Fourth Year is Almost Here!

rebecca gooderIn just 15 months that are sure to come and go in the blink of an eye, I will officially be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine! We are currently about halfway through our sixth and final didactic semester of veterinary school, and I must say, the light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright!

Come May 6, it’ll be time to pack up all of the knowledge I have gained and make that highly anticipated journey from the Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) over to the Large and Small Animal Hospitals to begin clinics.

Clinics span an entire year; we spend two weeks on each rotation collaborating with classmates, technicians, residents, and clinicians in a quest to apply our veterinary knowledge in a clinical setting with real patients.

Core rotations that we all must participate in include small animal emergency & critical care, veterinary radiology, anesthesiology, and equine medicine & surgery, just to name a few. My very first fourth-year rotation will be small animal emergency & critical care, and while it certainly sounds intense, I am looking forward to jumping right in.

At Texas A&M, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to “track” during our fourth year, which means that, in addition to the core rotations that all veterinary students must participate in, we can focus our remaining time on either small/companion animal, equine, mixed, food animal, or alternative rotations.

Considering my dream of becoming a dairy veterinarian, it is no surprise that I chose to track food animal.

Preparations for this began last year, as students choosing this track are required to select a mentor and enroll in food-animal focused electives during our third year; some of these elective classes include “Advanced Food Animal Medicine & Surgery” and “Advanced Herd Health Production.”

For me, a big advantage of the food animal track is the opportunity to participate in off-campus production rotations, which count as two of our track-specific rotations. Both of my production rotations are scheduled with dairy practices—one in Dexter, New Mexico, and the other in Los Banos, California—and I cannot wait to gain more experience in my field of interest.

Other benefits of the food animal track include having three food animal medicine & surgery rotations (for a total of six weeks!) in the Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital and a rotation with the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

It is very surreal to think that I am almost 75 percent of the way to being all done with veterinary school. With clinics, NAVLE (the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination) studying, and job searching coming up within this next year, it is sure to be very busy.

But as busy as I will undoubtedly, I am so excited to being so close to realizing my dream.

As I finish writing this, I realize that this will be my very last blog as a CVM Ambassador. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to represent our college and guide tours for prospective students and guests and I value all the memories I have made!

Food Animal Fun

Catherine T.In February, Texas A&M hosted its annual Food Animal Wet Lab, an event designed to give students exposure to all sorts of food animal medicine techniques and topics we don’t always cover in enough detail in class.

Because my main career focus is working with beef cattle and other livestock after graduation, this event is always a great time for me! I learned about castrating calves, giving epidurals, and performing C-sections, all of which can be the bread-and-butter of a food animal vet’s practice.

Even though I’ve known I want to practice in this field of veterinary medicine for a long time, it’s fun to see my classmates from all walks of life getting involved, too. Even if you plan to be a bird vet or a radiologist, who doesn’t love to play around with animals and learn from our knowledgeable and entertaining professors? Plus, you never know when a great experience may change your career goals for the better (and, yes, that is a shameless plug for food animal medicine).

While I had a lot of fun participating in the different wet labs, one of the most interesting parts of the day was meeting other students from different schools and even different states. I was able to work with and help teach several pre-vet students from West Texas and was excited to see their passion for this kind of work so early in their school careers.

I also got to learn alongside veterinary students from Oklahoma and Kansas and share interesting tidbits about how our curriculum and veterinary experiences differ. I also got to learn some things that make me grateful that I go to Texas A&M, such as the fact that it was 8 degrees in Manhattan, Kansas, the day before the wet lab.

In my upcoming fourth year of vet school, I’ll have the opportunity to travel around Texas and to California and Colorado on externships. I’m excited for the opportunity to venture out from College Station and meet other students and veterinarians from different backgrounds.

The great diversity of veterinary medicine, and everyone’s unique experiences and perspective, is just one of the things that I love so much about this profession!

Tracking Food Animal

Michelle M.Now that Christmas break has come and gone and we are now back at school this week for spring semester, I am finally in the homestretch of my path of becoming a veterinarian. After my spring semester finals, I will be going straight into my clinical year this May. During our clinical year, each student takes a core set of rotations in both the small and large animal hospitals, since as veterinarians we are licensed to work on all species.

But for the remaining rotations, we get to pick a track that most closely follows what we are interested in doing once we graduate. I want to work primarily with dairy cattle, so before break I chose the food animal track. I will spend several rotations in the Food Animal Department, where they treat food and fiber animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, pigs, and even the occasional camel. I then have the opportunity to conduct externships that will give me more experience in my chosen field.

Because I am hoping to get a job as a dairy veterinarian when I graduate, last summer I spent time in the Texas Panhandle working with dairy veterinarians. There, I worked to develop skills in areas such as diagnosing a cow as pregnant, hoof care, drawing blood for testing, and surgical techniques. I also participated in an externship back near my home in Pennsylvania, where I got more dairy and small ruminant experience.

My externships this next year will be across the country so that I hopefully will gain a better idea of how dairy medicine is done throughout the United States.  I will be going to California, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and the Panhandle again to get more experience under different veterinarians.  I’m looking forward to what the next year and a half will hold for me. It’s hard to believe how soon I will be making medical decisions and helping patients, and I can’t wait to see what I will learn!