A ‘Disasterous’ Valentine’s Day

Each year, Texas A&M University hosts the nation’s largest student-led interprofessional emergency response simulation, known as Disaster Day.

 

This event allows students from the colleges of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacy, Public Health, Nursing, and Medicine to

collaborate with the Corps of Cadets and the Texas State Guard to practice emergency response on a grand scale.

This year (on Friday, Feb. 14) was my second time attending Disaster Day.

Each year, there is a unique catastrophe presented for students to manage.

 

This year’s simulation was an earthquake that resulted in
building collapses and a train derailment; last year’s event was a research plant explosion that devastated the entire
neighborhood.

 

With actors covered in makeup and bandages, as well as first responders, hard-hats, and mock animal cases, this “disaster” teaches students the appropriate response skills needed for

such situations and allows them to learn the interprofessional channels of communication required when an entire community is affected by crisis.

The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) provides some of their actual medical response units for day. These trucks are outfitted with medical equipment and supplies needed for stabilizing and treating animals in the field during a

crisis.

During Disaster Day, we had to triage animal cases according
to the severity of their wounds or diseases and then chose
treatment plans according to what supplies we had on hand. Sometimes these animals had diseases that were transmissible
to humans, requiring us to collaborate with the human medical 
doctors and public health
officials on the proper containment protocols as well as owner education or care.

 

As a third-year veterinary student, I am about to leap into my final clinical year before graduation.

I think it’s invaluable for veterinarians to receive training in emergency response and become better prepared to take leadership roles in the community when the unexpected happens.

 

Events like Disaster Day are fun and exciting ways for me to apply my knowledge and feel equipped to serve my community when it needs me most.

Countdown to Fourth Year

In less than six months, I will start my fourth year of veterinary school here at Texas A&M University!

As I look forward to jumping into the last, clinical phase of my education, I am also looking forward to the first experiential phase of my career. Very soon, I will be rotating through different specialized departments in our large and small animal hospitals for a full 12 months, taking on real cases from real clients who bring their cherished pets here for care.

In preparation for this, my classmates and I are making the final decisions about our tracks, or paths, we will complete during those rotations. I plan to choose the mixed animal track and split my time between the large and small animal hospital.

My hope is that this prepares me and gives me confidence to treat any animal that walks into my clinic, no matter if I become a rural mixed animal practitioner or suburban small animal practitioner.

I also must make decisions about which rotations I will participate in—there are exciting opportunities like emergency and critical care, cardiology, orthopedic surgery, equine sports medicine, or even oncology.

I feel I have learned so much during my first three years and am starting to feel competent during case discussions when forming diagnostic and treatment plans, but there is still so much to learn.

As I plan out this final stage of my time here, I worry about fitting in all of the information I need in order to be a competent veterinarian. I worry about my first year after graduation and feeling knowledgeable enough to treat animals while continuing to learn.

Very soon, I will be the doctor in charge of medical decisions, responsible for the life and health of my patients. That’s equally exciting and anxiety-inducing!

Another part of fourth year preparations is arranging a few externship experiences off-site. These externships can take place in private general practice, in a specialty hospital, at another university, or even at different animal refuges, as long as you are working alongside other veterinarians.

One way that the CVM provides opportunities for us to network and arrange these experiences is through their annual job and externship fair. This weekend, more than 130 practitioners will converge on our school in the hopes of setting up externships with veterinary students and finding new graduates to hire. (https://vetmed.tamu.edu/dvm-job-fair/ ) 

It’s quite possible that one of these practitioners or externships will flourish into a job opportunity after graduation!

As I edit my resume and look at all the practices that will be in attendance, I have been thinking about what I’m looking for in a veterinary practice. What kind of team do I want to be part of? What type of mentorship am I looking for? Do I want to do emergencies after hours or live near an emergency hospital I can refer my patients to?

There are so many possibilities that I’m excited to explore!