Let’s Talk Family

Howdy! My name is Chau, and I am a biomedical sciences major
with high hopes of pursuing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy as the
next step in my education. This is my second year as an ambassador,
and I am excited to get to share my love for this college from the
perspective of an undergraduate.

ChausFamily

Chau and her family

If I were given an opportunity to stand up and speak in front of
a crowd, I would speak on behalf of my parents. I would speak about
their dreams for our family and their humbling personalities that
have made me the person I am today. I am an Aggie, but one with a
unique start. When asking high school senior Chau for her reasoning
to attend Texas A&M University, she would say, “Because TAMU
has friendly campus.” This is true, but it has turned into so much
more. The Aggie Core Values are what I embody and love to share.
The pride I hold when someone asks me where I attend school is
quite extreme. It is that power and the lessons of the
12th Man that rubbed off on me and made me convert my
entire family to Aggies as well. As my senior year goes, I have
found that I reflect and have had that bittersweet mindset
throughout the year.

I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam this summer and visit
both my parents’ hometowns. My dad was a city boy, and mom was a
country girl. It had been more than 10 years since I visited
Vietnam, and I was stoked to end my anatomy and physiology-filled
summer with a trip visiting family. I got to hug my 91-year-old
grandma, the strongest women I know; drink Vietnamese coffee with
my favorite uncle almost every morning; cook vegan meals with my
aunts; and drive on scooters with my cousins. It was these little
things that were most important to me to celebrate and
appreciate.

Even more so, I got to experience my culture and my unfading
love for a grand amount of people I have only known through Skype
conversations for the majority of my life. We all share multiple
things in common, including our selfless personalities and the
honor and respect we have toward each other and the world around
us. Coming back from this trip enlightened me. I built bonds and
created connections even though we are once again on the opposite
sides of this earth. My family members are my backbone, and they
make me smile even on the most stressful days as a college student.
I like to compare my family as true Aggies because their character
and positivity is my inspiration and motivation in many of my
rigorous classes.

School is tough, but my time here has definitely been worth
every moment. Being an Aggie makes me feel like being part of a
bigger family. Throughout my three years (going on fourth, WHOOP!)
here at Texas A&M University, I don’t like to say that I have
changed, but I have. I took a huge leap attending a school that
separates me by six hours from my parents, a school with which my
family had no association. My biomedical sciences major has
broadened my horizons and let me meet people who share the same
passion for healthcare, and I have found that it is the little
moments, like bus rides to West Campus and random hallway talks
waiting for the classes to start, that remind me of the memories I
made with my family in Vietnam. The strength of my family and the
Aggie spirit is strong within me.

Piecing Together the Puzzle

Ali C.We are now over a quarter of the way done with the semester! Whoop! Veterinary School is really good at keeping our minds and bodies busy, so even though it feels like the clock is barely ticking during some class days, it’s actually FLYING by! I can feel the jittery excitement in the air, because all of my third-year classmates can finally see a glimmer of light at the end of the vet school tunnel. We are gaining confidence, skills, and wisdom; we finally feel closer to being doctors and further from students.

We third-year students have gotten more comfortable with basic surgical procedures so far this semester; nevertheless, I still sweat bullets the entire time. Putting non-powdered surgical gloves onto sweaty hands should be an Olympic sport. Gold medal goes to me for my hilarious and laborious struggle with such a menial task! This week, AFTER I took 10 minutes to get my gloves on, I proceeded to accidentally poke a hole in the glove on my left index finger with a stray towel clamp, which meant I had to stop what I was doing, remove my poked glove, and start the whole gloving process over again. It’s definitely a learning curve.

Luckily for me, sweating doesn’t interfere with my paper test-taking skills! 3VM students had a BIG Small Animal Medicine test this week covering a month and a half of oncology and endocrinology material. These are probably some of the most common diseases I will be dealing with as a small-animal veterinarian once I graduate. Unfortunately, at least 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 will get some form of cancer, which is why it is so important for us to learn how to treat and manage cancer patients. It may be surprising to you, but dogs and cats are candidates for chemotherapies and radiation, just like humans! Our professor, Dr. Claudia Barton, made sure to emphasize the fact that cancer is indiscriminate of species; therefore, observations from cancer in our domestic animals can be studied and incorporated into human oncologic research.

For endocrinology, we are taught by Dr. Audrey Cook, who has a wonderful European accent and a remarkable passion for the diseases she presents. I actually printed out all of her notes, put it in a binder, and labeled it my “Cook Book,” since I plan on keeping it on my shelf in my veterinary practice in the near future. My favorite disease she has talked about is feline hyperthyroidism. I like it because it is a disease that likes to hide behind the façade of just “old cat syndrome,” but when correctly diagnosed and treated it can really improve the lives of our aging kitties. It is nerve-wracking to learn all of these common, everyday diseases while having aging animals of your own. I find myself wondering which diseases my own cat will get someday—and hoping I will be sharp enough to spot them early and treat them!

This upcoming Monday is one of the few Mondays that we don’t have an exam. To take advantage of my lessened weekend stressors, I am headed back to my hometown of Boerne to visit my parents, my 103-year-old great-uncle, and my three brothers. I haven’t seen any of them since summer and am starting to feel the homesickness. I try to make time during the week to reach out to all of them, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen with everything else going on. Hopefully they can get my head out of my textbooks, help me to relax, and have a little fun before diving back on Monday.

What I have found to be so incredible and different about our third year of vet school is that we are finally putting all the pieces together and understanding veterinary medicine on a different level. Our veterinary puzzle is actually starting to come together, and it is SO EXCITING!

Keeping Swimming via Wet Labs

Nantika D.Time flies quickly—I feel that this is so true. One-third of the fall semester has already passed. When my day starts, usually at 6 a.m., it does not stop until midnight or as late as 2 a.m. As Dory, from the movie “Finding Nemo,” says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”…that’s each day for me. It seems tiring, but certainly not boring, because along the way I am learning many different aspects of medicine for different species.

As a second-year veterinary student at Texas A&M, there is still a lot to learn until I become a veterinarian. With little clinical experiences prior to applying to the program, I felt like a deer in front of the headlights. But soon enough, I learned that opportunities are always around, not only in the clinical skill labs provided in school curriculum, but I can also easily get clinical experiences outside of the classroom. The more I practice my clinical skills, the more confident I will be when I graduate.

One of the ways I receive hands-on experience during the semester is through wet labs. A wet lab is set up by the student organizations, of which there are more than 20 at the CVM, including student chapters of the national associations for Equine Practitioners, Bovine Practitioners, and Internal Medicine, and Emergency and Critical Care; groups focusing on Laboratory Animal Medicine and Zoo, Exotics, Wildlife Medicine; and many others. These wet labs are scheduled for the weekend or after-school hours, and each is supervised and taught by board-certified veterinarians who are specialized in the field being covered in the wet lab. Last weekend, I participated in a dermatology wet lab. Dr. Alison Diesel, who is board certified in veterinary dermatology, came to teach us to perform sample collection and diagnostic evaluations for ear cytology, skin scrapes, and impression smear cytology in dogs and cats.

Last year, I participated in five web labs. First, during an internal medicine wet lab, I learned to perform centeses (thoracocentesis, abdominocentesis, and arthrocentesis), esophageal tube placement, lymph nodes aspiration, and organ and skin biopsy (aspiration and punch biopsy). Second, during a lab animal wet lab, I learned to handle and restrain the rats, as well as to administer drugs and medications. Third, during a Surgery Club wet lab, I learned how to scrub, gown, glove, wrap packs, and suturing techniques and patterns. Fourth, in a cytology clinical pathology wet lab, hosted by the Pathology Club, I learned to look for abnormal cells under microscopes, which prepared me for when I take a pathology class this year. My last wet lab last year was the small and large animal dentistry, hosted by the Dental Club, in which I learned to determine the age of dogs and horses and how to perform canine teeth cleanings.

I recently signed up for an emergency and critical care wet lab. In it, I will get a chance to practice techniques such as temporary tracheostomys and watch the clinician demonstrate open-chest CPR. This year the Internal Medicine group also will offer an equine echocardiogram wet lab.

Participating in these wet labs allows me to explore more about veterinary medicine; it is a part of my veterinary school journey I really enjoy, a part that helps me to “keep swimming.”

Learning: It’s for the Birds

Karly B.As a second-year veterinary student, it is sometimes very easy to forget that there are things outside of charts, notes, and endless PowerPoint slides. But, recently, I was reminded of the other learning opportunities we have here at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. One of those many fun and inspiring aspects of our professional program is the chance to head over the Avian Health Complex, where a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of practicing handling pigeons and tortoises.

I was elated to go to that rotation because I love exotic animals. After being debriefed on the safe and proper manner of handling birds, we got started. We gloved up to protect both the bird and ourselves, as we both can transmit diseases to each other. I then had to catch my pigeon! I caught mine pretty quickly; she was a lot less rambunctious than some of the others. My partner and I both took turns doing a complete physical exam on her, checking her eyes, ears, wings, musculature, and many other body parts. We identified in a report that she was healthy and then we moved on to weighing her. Lastly, we drew blood from her wing vein so that the flock could be screened and given a clean bill of health. I loved handling the birds.

The tortoises were a bit trickier. You see, when a tortoise does not care to be picked up, it has a very effective method of defense—IT PEES ON YOU!! And this is not just a little trickle; these little guys can aim! Part of our task was to do a bunch of similar examination techniques on the Texas Tortoises, but there is a huge difference between a tortoise and a pigeon—a tortoise has a shell, of course! So how do you take a heart rate on a tortoise? Well, I am glad you asked. I found it quite fascinating. We used a Doppler. A Doppler is a type of ultrasound machine that you place in the crook between the tortoise’s head and forelimb. Through the machine, you can actually hear the pulse of the heart.

For me and my partner, we got through our physical exam with no incidents. Others were not so lucky and went home with a little bit of tortoise urine to commemorate the event.

Nobody really minded.

It’s all in a day’s work.