The Merck Veterinary Manual provides veterinary practitioners and students with practical explanations of what to do to diagnose and treat conditions in all of the major medical and surgical specialties. It covers when to suspect a disease, a sequence of evaluation, and treatment options along with selected alternatives.
These words from my professor reverberated through my mind. As soon as they left her mouth, the entire class began to mumble. Eyes widened around the room as we all felt the same collective feeling of being unprepared.
‘I’m not ready,’ I thought to myself over and over again. I could feel the anxiety begin to rise at the thought of being out on my own. Of having my own patients. Of making my own choices.
A year stands between me and the working world. It doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to prepare and feel truly confident in my abilities. Though, I do have to remember that over the course of the next year, I will be spending most of my time in various veterinary clinics, getting real-life experience.
I have been told by other veterinarians that upon graduation, new veterinarians are basically walking encyclopedias. We have an endless wealth of knowledge. At this point in our lives, we will know more about veterinary medicine than we ever will in the future. This is due to the fact that the moment we step out of our teaching institutions we slowly lose much of the information we learned.
Most of us will funnel ourselves into specific fields of veterinary medicine and forget some of what has been taught to us about animals we will not practice on. A swine vet does not necessarily need to know about reptiles and vice versa.
At the end of the day, I guess what I am getting at, is that we are a wealth of knowledge. We often underestimate what we know and even though we are nervous now, we are more prepared academically than we ever will be. Paired with our clinical teachings we will all be ready to hit the ground running.
Yesterday I gave my first tour as a student ambassador for my veterinary school. After being a student ambassador for my undergraduate university I was eager to get back in the saddle and give tours to prospective students. Our evening of tours included giving the pre-vet club at Virginia Tech a tour of the veterinary school. Within the first few moments of the tour, I quickly realized why I loved doing this so much. Talking to students that were in my shoes just a few years ago brought an excitement and sense of achievement to the front of my mind. These will be the future students that will be following in my steps in a few years.
The students were full of questions and vigor to get into veterinary school. I saw myself in each and every one of them as they asked about our classes, the curriculum, and the labs. It was amazing to see how enthusiastic they were about my experiences and advice on what to do with their future. With long days in a classroom and a large midterm around the corner, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony of the days running together and lose that sense of passion I had just one year ago after receiving my acceptance. After two hours of touring, dinner and giving out my email to several of them, I felt a renewed sense of passion. It was a great reminder of where I have come from to get where I am and how blessed I am to be here.
Raptors are some of the most amazing kinds of wildlife. They are admired for their tenacity, their beauty, and the wonder of their “bigness” in comparison to other birds. There are lots of things that go into raptor care in veterinary medicine. One of the most important things is safety. As with any animal, it is important to determine what part of the animal is most dangerous–or what their “weapons” are. In raptors, their weapons are their feet. Raptors have extreme grip strength and incredibly sharp talons that are made for catching and carrying prey and for ripping it apart to eat.
Some of the essential tools for raptors include “raptor gloves” which protect you more from talons and help you to get a hold on a raptors’ feet in order to make sure they are controlled while you handle them. Raptors also have strong wings and sharp beaks that can cause problems in handling if you are not carefully restraining them. Because all raptors are wild animals, proper restraint is essential to getting a good physical exam and giving treatments to sick birds.
Medically, raptors are hardy species and can often recover after intensive veterinary care for problems that appear to be very severe. It is amazing what I have seen raptors get through in the veterinary hospital. It is also important for veterinarians who plan to treat wildlife to have good relationships with wildlife rehabilitators in order to provide a more long-term recovery spot for raptors. There are also some medical conditions, which, in domestic animals are not life-threatening, but in raptors can be reasons for euthanasia or for keeping a bird in captivity for the rest of its life. One of these conditions is blindness. Raptors rely on their excellent eyesight to catch prey and avoid hazards. Even blindness in only one eye is a condition that makes a raptor not releasable back to the wild because it puts them in danger of obstacles in the wild and of starving to death because they cannot see their food well enough to catch it. Certain wing fractures can heal and birds can be released, but some fractures can become infected, or occur in places that cannot be stabilized and eventually lead to amputation or inappropriate angles of healing that do not allow for flight. Obviously, the lack of flight would be a reason that a bird must remain in captivity.
Overall, raptors are very cool birds who are important in the wild for the health of ecosystems and the balance of life in the wild. As veterinarians, we have the ability to help protect and serve the wildlife of our world by providing care for animals like raptors. Personally, I hope to be able to do this for the wildlife in my community in the near future, with the help of wildlife rehabilitators who rescue and rehab these amazing creatures to be released back into the wild.
Finally, the results are in. After graduation, I will be heading to a university for a one-year rotating internship.
Throughout veterinary school, I have found joy in learning almost every subject and obtaining experience in various aspects of veterinary medicine. However, knowing that my career goal is to specialize in veterinary medical oncology or feline medicine, I’ve made the decision to pursue a small animal rotating internship since I was a first-year veterinary student. Upon the completion of the majority of my clinical rotations, I further comprehended the importance of a small animal rotating internship to my career goal. The remarkable depth and breadth of veterinary knowledge and the high level of compassion and professionalism demonstrated by interns, residents and board-certified clinicians that I’ve worked with have positively impacted and solidified my decision. They have reflected the value of the advanced training, and I want to be like them when I grow up. I desire mentorship, a broad category and high volume of cases, and plentiful exposure to oncology and feline cases during my internship year. And I am looking forward to abundant primary case responsibilities to enhance my veterinary medical and surgical skills, and fine-tune my communication and time management skills.
Four years of rigorous coursework in veterinary school has not only endowed me with a comprehensive knowledge base of veterinary medicine, but also the quality of intense self-reflection, pride in the veterinary profession, and a never-ending quest for self-improvement. Can’t wait to graduate and be a real doctor!
With the final week of my external in Vermont winding down I’ll soon be headed back to Virginia. I’ve certainly enjoyed my six weeks back home and I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience. What’s even more exciting is that this will be my final trip back down to veterinary school. The next time I leave school I will have my veterinary degree.
With only a few more months until graduation, the thought of finally being done is exciting. Everything that I’ve ever worked for is finally coming together and soon enough I will be a veterinarian. To make things even better, the last several blocks are going to be some of my favorites. Besides a three-week stint in community practice doing small animal yearly checkups, my last three blocks are all topics that I really like. I have a small ruminant block, then necropsy and lab services before ending with food animal ambulatory medicine.
The last week will also be great because my birthday is on the Friday right before clinics end on Sunday. Using my personal days, I will be able to finish clinics and my time in veterinary school the day before my birthday. After all the hard work and dedication needed to get to this point, I couldn’t think of a better birthday present. Graduation will be a week later and then veterinary school will finally be over.
Yes, it will be sad to leave Virginia and, more importantly, all my friends behind. School was rough and my time here probably wasn’t as happy as I thought it would be while I was a pre-veterinary student. But it has become an important place in my life and I will miss it. My time here coming to an end marks the beginning of my veterinary career and the start of a new adventure. Things are starting to get real and I’m ready to see what the future has in store.
My first glimpse of Marigold was impressive: A russet-colored donkey, feet planted and head outstretched, stubbornly refusing to walk through a large entryway despite treats and several barn staff straining at her halter. Only after startling her with a few loud claps did she finally take the last few steps inside.
Marigold presented for several days of decreased appetite and spending too much time lying down. Bloodwork showed she was dehydrated and had high triglycerides, indicating that she was on the cusp of developing hepatic lipidosis (also called fatty liver disease), a condition common in donkeys, minis, or obese patients who aren’t eating. Results of the abdominal ultrasound and rectal exam revealed dilation of the stomach and an impaction of the small colon. Passage of a nasogastric tube confirmed that the stomach dilation was due to an impaction of the stomach.
Marigold was given fluids and dextrose intravenously, to help correct her dehydration and prevent the onset of hepatic lipidosis. Her nasogastric tube was left in place to allow for periodic gastric lavage and enteral fluids, to help break up her gastric and small colon impactions. After two days, her impactions had resolved and she had developed stinky nasal discharge, a sign of irritation and secondary bacterial infection due to the nasogastric tube. So her tube was pulled, to her immense relief.
Marigold’s appetite didn’t return as readily, but after transfaunating her to support her gut microflora and tempting her with a variety of foods, she finally started nibbling on some grass and hay stretcher. (Of course, fresh grass is very hard to find in January in New England.) She soon learned to use her “cute face” to her advantage: Absolutely no one could resist feeding her some grass once they took in her long ears, tilted head, and nibbling lips.
To no one’s surprise, Marigold was just as stubborn when it came to leaving, and again it took a small crowd of people to move her through the doorway.
Though it would be wonderful if clinical rotations were all fun and games and consisted of playing with puppies and kittens all day, the unfortunate reality is that they come with their fair share of disappointment, sadness, and chronic exhaustion. Since starting rotations in March, patients get euthanized, you may forget to include pertinent information during patient rounds and get called out for not mentioning it, and goings-on outside of school make for more stress within it. A large portion of the pressure we face is heaped onto us by our educators, but much of the pressure comes from ourselves.
All that being said, there are certain days during which everything just clicks. You feel as though you are firing on all cylinders, your patients are improving to the point of being discharged, few (if any) new cases get transferred onto your service, the temperature outside is above 30 degrees, the sun is shining, and you miraculously get to leave the hospital before sundown. It is on days like this that I think of Ice Cube’s 1992 hit song “It Was a Good Day.” In the song, Cube discusses things in his life that made him feel good and how they all happened to coalesce together on the same day. The song was written around the time of the Los Angeles riots, and despite stress associated with that and all other aspects of life, he focuses on the positive…and serves as motivation for me to do the same in my life.
When I was in my pre-vet program, all I thought about was getting into veterinary school to pursue the career that I desire. Here are some thoughts that I would love to share with the passionate, enthusiastic pre-vet me:
You made the right choice! Veterinary medicine is one of the most wonderful professions in the universe. You are going to work with a group of people that has remarkable depth and breadth of veterinary knowledge, and high level of compassion and professionalism. They are lovely people that care about animals and each member in this profession. In addition, veterinary medicine is a constantly progressing profession and every day is challenging.
I would suggest you have more research experience, which not only makes a better resume but also helps you gain a better appreciation of “one medicine.” Major scientific breakthroughs in the human or veterinary medical field are applied to its counterpart on a daily basis. This is the beauty of medicine as there are no borders cross-species!
Be prepared to be separated from family for at least 4 years, which can be emotionally challenging but it’s never easy on the way to achieving your dreams. Make as many phone calls to your family members as possible to help you feel involved in whatever is happening with your family on the other side of the earth.
Even though I wasn’t thinking that much 4 years ago, I am happy that I persisted and pursued what I really wanted to do and the dream is becoming reality in just less than 2 months!
I spent two weeks working with the Physical Rehab and Integrative Medicine service recently. It was such an amazing rotation! As I worked with my patients, I got to witness the power of rehabilitation exercises, walks in the water treadmill, laser therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, TENS, NMES, and PEMF therapy and the potential that they hold to improve the quality of life for animals.
Several of my patients could not walk on their own at the outset of their therapy. In the short time I was able to work with them during my two weeks with the service, I saw such transformations in their physical abilities. By the middle of my second week of the rotation, some of them could sit on their own, hold themselves up and walk assisted by their cart or the water treadmill. In addition to physical progress, I was able to see notable changes in their mental state as well. It is difficult, of course, because our patients can’t tell us how they feel, but it was amazing to see my patients become visibly brighter as they regained their independence.
The animals were so eager to be able to come to the rehabilitation gym in a way most animals are not when they come to the vet. The little role that I was able to play in their rehabilitation made me feel like I was truly making a difference for them and their families. I learned so much from them and it has shaped how I hope to practice veterinary medicine in the future.
Listening to a lecture on wound management given by one of the veterinary interns, performing radiographs on a red-tailed hawk that presented for being found in the middle of the highway, and moving a mallard duck from a dry pen into a pool to assess its healing post-ulnar fracture are just a few of the things you might find me doing on any given afternoon in the wildlife clinic. Returning to the wildlife clinic for my official core rotation was a breath of fresh air after having had spent weeks locked up in both the large and small animal hospitals. I had spent most Tuesday afternoons during my second year spring semester there for our so-called ‘selective’ course during which my friend Mike and I shadowed the wildlife vets.
Whereas second-year students are typically not allowed to do as much as rotating students, I now feel more comfortable holding, assessing, and treating wild patients. While on the service, I got to interact with a bobcat, porcupine, Canada geese, red-tailed hawks, Eastern screech owls, hooded mergansers, a mallard duck, and several turtles. One of the more memorable experiences with my turtle patients was that of noticing that my snapping turtle had laid a single egg! This was notable since she had been in the hospital since 2016 and been kept in a pool by herself away from any male turtles. How could this be? It turns out that turtles can actually store sperm for five years. This fun fact is but one of many that I learn on a daily basis while working in the wildlife clinic.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.