Changing lives, one patient at a time

I think we can all agree that this summer has been… slightly out of the ordinary. In my community, I have sadly witnessed several businesses that have been forced to close their doors with no reopening in sight.


When it comes to animals though, their health cannot be put on hold. I was extremely fortunate to be able to maintain my position in a veterinary clinic during these past few months. Despite the overwhelming hardship that this pandemic has caused, we have been given the invaluable opportunity to use a bit of creativity and see patient care from a whole new perspective.


At my hospital, we have been offering “curbside service” for our clients and patients. Aside from the brief acquiring and return of the pet, all of our communication with the owners has been over the phone – from getting the history, to the doctors sharing their findings, even receiving payment for the services, while the animals are the only ones allowed inside. Although challenges with this are inevitable, I have witnessed so many more successes.


It can be very scary giving your beloved pet to a stranger and not being right by their side in a stressful environment. Yet from this, we are reminded of the importance and value of trust from the owners. Our clients are putting the life of their child into our hands, and we are so honored to be able to care for them amidst the craziness of the world around us. Additionally, these new operations have enabled us to strengthen our bond as a team. In the brief opportunities that I get to catch my breath in between running around and speaking over the phone, I marvel in the help and support that is always evident in the clinic, despite the stressors. Even though things might look a little different right now, and we greatly miss our typical client interactions, we are still here to enhance pets’ lives, one patient at a time.

This too shall pass

With the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it has been interesting how the world has been able to shift into a completely different way of life.

Before classes resumed this past week, I was panic-stricken thinking about how I would adapt to so much change. As it turns out, humans are pretty good at dealing with change; with our access to technological resources, we have been able to continue college from wherever we please.

Self isolation has also enabled me to take a step back and prioritize aspects in my life. School always comes first, but I have also been able to give importance to things I did not have much time for in the past.

Growing up, I played competitive piano, learned South Indian classical singing, took tennis lessons, and my mom taught me how to speak, read, and write in my mother tongue, Tamil. As I entered college, I started to lose touch with all of those skills.

With this extra “me time,” I have been able to revisit these hobbies and skills I used to have. My mom has started to reteach me how to read and write in Tamil because I slowly forgot how without enough practice. Additionally, I learned my first piece on the piano since my senior year of high school.

And most importantly, I have been able to spend time with my family. I am extremely grateful for that since I do not get the opportunity to see them so often during the school year. Many people are not privileged enough to be able to enjoy self isolation

like I am, but it is important to try to seek out the positives in a time like this. In Tamil, we say, “idhuvum kadanthu pogum,” or in English, “this too shall pass.”

This situation is extremely unprecedented, but hopefully, we can all come out of this as more unified and more informed members of our society.

Vet School from a Distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has, in a matter of days, changed just about everything in our daily lives, and our veterinary education is no exception. Near the end of our spring break, we received word that classes during the subsequent week would be cancelled to allow planning for a pivot to an online format.

What does an online veterinary education look like, you ask? Great question!

As I write this, our veterinary classes are set to resume in a few days, so I don’t have all the answers. What I can tell you is what life for me has looked like for the past week. Although no formal classes were held, our instructors continued to post class material so that we could continue our learning.

Back in College Station, our instructors have been working tirelessly to revise their courses to an online format. They posted new syllabi to reflect modifications to class formats, exam schedules, assignment due dates, and exam formats. Some classes will lecture by virtual video conferencing (such as Zoom), other classes will have content posted ahead of time for us to watch at our leisure, and other classes will ask us to review content ahead of time then meet virtually during our normal class time for a Q&A session. While it will be challenging to adapt to the various learning styles, I am extremely grateful that we may continue our education during this unprecedented time.

Day-to-day life as a student looks a little bit different for everyone. Many of my classmates, myself included, are in their hometowns to be close (albeit socially distanced!) to loved ones. I am currently living with my partner and his roommate in Oregon.

Because of the time difference, I am trying to wake up early each day so that when classes resume I can cope with taking tests and being functional at 6 a.m. Pacific Time. It’s a small price to pay for being able to stay home and close to my parents and loved ones. My classmates and I study and collaborate via Google Docs. When the weather is nice, I take a break from studying by exploring the nearby walking trails. I stay in touch with friends and family by phone, Facetime, and social media. When all else fails, there are always board games to stay entertained.

Although these are uncertain times, I take comfort in knowing that my classmates, my instructors, and I are all doing our best to adapt to the evolving situation and keep each other safe. Our resiliency has helped us get to where we are now, and it will help us get through whatever the next few months hold.

My Mountain to Become a Great Doctor

They say life doesn’t stop because you are in vet school. This semester, it really didn’t stop.

For whatever reason, the spring semester of our second year has been a trial for many people in our class, me included.

Over Christmas break, I had a migraine and right-sided persistent numbness. I spent four days in the hospital undergoing MRI’s, CT scans, and a spinal tap until my diligent doctors concluded that I
have an aggressive form of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

While I would have preferred to spend my break planning my wedding and skiing with friends, I spent much of my time reflecting on not only what it means to live with a chronic illness, but also to manage that chronic illness as a medical professional myself.

In school we spend so much time talking about the art and practice of medicine. We are here because we are problem solvers and because we like a good challenge. But what happens when you are the problem but can’t provide your own solution? That vulnerability is not something we are accustomed to as veterinary students.

I am not the only one who has learned a thing or two about putting your life in other peoples’ hands. As you read in a previous blog, one of my classmates is currently battling cancer, others have had car accidents or supported family through illness.

In school, our days are consumed with understanding radiology, identifying pathology, and honing our anatomical understanding, but suddenly this knowledge couldn’t help ourselves or those closest to us.

In the months following my diagnosis, I perhaps leaned what my professors had been trying to teach me all along. Great doctors not only possess precise yet broad knowledge in their field of specialty, but they also sit by your bedside and explain the complexity of an MRI as many times as it takes for you to understand. Great doctors follow up, take extra time, make sure
you understand each piece of a complex diagnosis.

They also don’t quit until they have an answer. Great doctors persevere.

And while I have previously persevered through five-hour anatomy practices, late night study sessions, bad grades, and emotional breakdowns, I see this as the most important mountain I will climb both in vet school and my career. Like so many of my classmates who have faced unfathomable challenges during their veterinary training, I now know how those challenges will turn us in to better veterinarians.