Connecting the Dots

Rebecca G.As happy as I am to be back in College Station and in the midst of my second year of veterinary school, I can’t help but long for the days of this past summer—waking up at 2:30 a.m. each day, throwing on my coveralls and tall rubber boots, and having the amazing opportunity to spend my days working alongside veterinarians and health technicians on a commercial dairy in northeast Texas. Whether we were ultrasounding cows to confirm pregnancy, performing a necropsy, discussing a mastitis outbreak, dehorning heifers, or vaccinating calves, I loved it all; each day ended with me being even more excited about pursuing a career in dairy production medicine upon graduating from vet school in May 2020.

Summertime during vet school is the perfect opportunity to get out of the classroom and laboratory setting, further explore our veterinary interests, and gain valuable hands-on, clinical experience. What made my experience so beneficial, in particular, was how I was able to utilize all of the knowledge I acquired from my first year of vet school. For example, thanks to microbiology, from the spring semester, I knew that those Johne’s calves were infected with Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis and that this pathogen is primarily transmitted via the fecal-oral route. Or, now that we are taking pharmacology this semester, it makes perfect sense why pirlimycin was being used to treat Streptococcus uberis mastitis—pirlimycin is a macrolide antibiotic that targets gram positive aerobes and S. uberis is a gram positive aerobe! I only wish I knew then that bile imbibition is a normal post-mortem change and that fibrin is associated with acute inflammation!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day “grind” of vet school, but experiences like this summer remind me why I am here and why I am just so excited to be working my way toward that Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. I look forward to spending the rest of this academic year soaking up all of the new knowledge I can so that I can go into next summer’s externship at a big dairy practice in California as prepared as possible!