Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Become a Doctor and Other Random Updates

I just found a very easy way to become a doctor. Apparently, all you need to do is get an abstract accepted to present at a meeting. Then all communication with you is addressed as Dr. whoever even if you constantly reply and give no indication that you are possibly a doctor. I get that it's the safe way for these people to address me when they are uncertain, but I am not ready for people to be calling me doctor.

Lesson 1: Spell Good: A doctor was reading a history from a referring vet and came across a misspelling - I think "strider" instead of "stridor". She made the comment that she immediately thinks he's an idiot even though the more likely explanation is that he was in a hurry. It was a good lesson to pay attention to detail because little things like misspellings can decrease your credibility with your colleagues.

I started this a long time ago and there were going to be more lessons, but I can't think of any right now.

Well, just got back from a research trip to Alaska. It was cool since it was my first time there and I got to see a lot of the state and talk with a bunch of mushers. It was awesome to drive around and have mountains in the background everywhere. The rest of the research team was super cool too. We were joking around most of the trip and got serious for business so it was a great atmosphere the whole time despite the very little sleep.

Third year started and it was funny because none of us were prepared. There's a sense of we don't care and don't stress out anymore. We're all sick of the classroom and ready to start clinics in January. I just put in my preferences for clinical rotations which should be interesting. I feel like I have no clue what's going on in school. I just had a lab that I was completely unprepared for but it was very laidback and we were learning how to anesthetize animals. I actually saw a bunch of it on my trip so it was a nice review. I need to get back to watching the lectures I missed and will try to update this more regularly.

A lot of stuff is coming up - I need to make a poster for my research by the end of the month and exams will start soon and then I need to review my presentation from last year to present again in mid-October. I volunteered to help in the anesthesia lab on Thursday to hopefully anesthetize the dog and scrub in (I hope I get to do something because it looked boring from what I saw today) on a spay/neuter. It should be good practice for later this semester.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So I had some exams at the end of the semester which was fun. We had 9 exams in 15 days. That's ridiculous!!! That means we basically had 2 weeks of finals because they wouldn't fit in one week. Oh and the 1st years were done on Thursday and had easier finals than we did last year. Um, I'm sorry but if you don't have at least a full week of finals, I do not consider that vet school.

Systemic Path had the most memorable final. The professor decided to make it cumulative this year to make it EASIER. I don't understand the logic either. While studying for it, we realized that we had no idea what to study or how questions would be asked for certain sections - mainly derm and ophtho. We were given 40 review images with the diagnoses so I memorized all that info and expected to see the images on the exam. Wrong!! I learned absolutely nothing from those sections and it's very difficult to diagnose/describe 3d lesions using a 2d image on a computer screen. But I did learn to always use "ulcerative" when describing a lesion.

Oh, and I got sick during finals which made the experience so much more enjoyable. In the end, I'm glad the semester is was the worst thing ever...grades were bad, but could've been worse. My class thinks I'm extremely interested in orthopedics now because of my research and one professor that pointed me out a couple times that semester. I'm cool with ortho, but I'm not all about it. And another prof has become my new BFF and I don't know how or why. He sneaked up on me the other day when I was working on my research so we had a chat about what I'm doing this summer. It's all really weird. I've never been a fan of professors trying too hard to be friends with the students.

So the night I finished finals, I couldn't sleep because of the emotional high and I remembered that I had to write a grant for my summer research and submit it by the end of the month. It was a little bit of a freak out moment. It turns out that it wasn't that bad and was just submitted today. I've also been working on client consent forms, letters of support, and a bunch of other technical things that are apparently involved in research. So far, it's been a fairly laidback summer so that's good. I had a list of things I would do everyday (like practicing suturing) but none of that has happened.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Burnt Out

Needless to say, school has kept me a little busy lately. A lot of tests, wasting time, and not being able to focus are a bad combination. I don't know what happened this past month but it was a bit scary. I would study to a point where I knew I could pass the test and then stop. My grades show that I was slacking off too.

Some cool things that happened last month are that we learned how to do some nerve blocks, epidurals, and bandaging. It's nice to do some practical stuff amidst the many hours in the classroom. Oh, the classroom - so when it starts getting warmer outside, the heating system doesn't realize it and keeps pumping hot air into the room and BAM - welcome to the SAUNA, good luck focusing while you're dripping sweat.

Also, I almost got a ticket last week. I'm riding my bike, yes BIKE, back to my apartment and fly through a no walk signal - it was perfectly timed as cars were coming from both ways and I had plenty of time. I stop at the next traffic light and watch a cop car turn a quick U-turn and pull up next to me. I was thinking if I did something wrong it would only be a $20 ticket.
Cop: Do you know why I'm contacting you?
Me: Uh, no
Cop: Why didn't you stop at the no walk sign?
Me: Uh, I didn't know I had to.
Cop: Well, you do and you're riding on the sideWALK and crossWALK.
He takes my license and gives me a warning if I agree to tell all my bicyclist friends (there's one that I know of) that we need to ride in the street (some places there are designated areas but if not just on the right side of the road) because it's safer. I learned that it's a $100 fine for riding in the crossWALK and sideWALK and a $150 fine for running a traffic signal in the street. Lesson learned: Use the crosswalk to run a red light and save $50. The funny thing is that as we were talking, a bunch of bikes were flying by on the walk areas and he was yelling at them. Then when he let me go, I almost rode across the crosswalk, but luckily I remembered and got off my bike and walked it across the street.

The annoying things: it's supposed to be safer? riding a few feet away from cars where I'll probably get run over when they turn is probably not safer than riding 15 feet away on the sidewalk and having time to react if someone tries to kill me. Why are the bike racks off of the sideWALKs? How do I get to them? Some of the sidewalks on campus have designated biking areas....uh, mixed signals? I think I'm going to call the police on all the little kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk around my apartment because they should be riding in the street where it's safer.

As you can see, sadly the most exciting thing that happened in the last month was me getting stopped by a cop on my bike.

4 more weeks

Monday, March 29, 2010

Update on Terminal Surgeries

So the new curriculum was explained to us and it sounds pretty good. We will have the opportunity to do more procedures on cadavers than how it was in the old curriculum on live animals. I think the class concerns are still about bleeding and individual confidence. Knowing about the advantages, I'm looking forward to next semester and my only concern is my confidence as a surgeon.

Here is a good article about what's going on.

If you think this is awesome because less animals will be killed - uh, FYI: We are still using about the same number of animals. They were just killed at the pound instead of the school. I guess the only difference is that they will not be purpose-bred dogs.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Terminal Surgeries Have Been Terminated

Last year, we received an announcement that got rid of the rumor of no more terminal surgeries. However, we were just told that our class will not be doing terminal surgeries, instead we will learn on cadavers. I don't know where anyone stands on this but here's the facts:

Terminal surgeries are the first surgeries the students get to do. Animals are anesthetized and provided proper analgesia (pain meds) during surgery but never wake up from the surgery. Cruel right? Well, the reason they aren't recovered is to prevent further pain. We are just learning so hopefully we did everything right and then we are not skilled in handling tissues without causing much trauma (read pain after surgery). Basically if the animal woke up, it would probably be in a lot of pain. In Michigan the law requires us to use animals bred for this specific purpose and it is illegal to use animals in pounds that will be euthanized anyways (no idea why).

Reason for this change: school and faculty are under a lot of pressure. Victory for animal activists everywhere!!!! Right? Hold on, last time I checked cadavers and live animals are slightly different. So people that think this is a victory, please bring your animals to me when I start doing real surgeries. Hopefully, your pet won't bleed too much because I'm not used to bleeding - those cadavers didn't bleed. Oh and operating on intestines in an actual animal instead of on a table may throw me off a bit too.

I don't know about you, but I would rather have students learn on animals without owners than those with owners that are attached to their pets.

I think it's ironic that people think this is a victory because they THINK they are relieving pain and suffering in animals when these people are just uninformed and are probably actually causing more pain in animals.

Just some thoughts.

Spring Break is Almost Here!!!

OK, the 5 exams in 2 weeks is over and I survived. GPA-speaking there was nothing to brag about so I guess there won't be any easy finals this semester. This week was extremely busy too:

Monday - Cardio exam. No pressure but if you fail this class, just add another year to your current graduation date. I thought I knew the stuff, but the questions were different and harder than I expected. I also didn't use my time wisely and ran out of time when I was taking a second look at it. Barely passed, good except for the whole goal of preserving GPA. Later in the week, the professor gave us points back which made me much happier and feel like less of a loser.

Tuesday - Suturing lab that I didn't practice for and just relied on prior experience which paid off since I didn't get yelled at (always a success). Leave school, finish packing for presentation in Colorado, get on plane, get delayed 1.5 hours in Chicago, miss last shuttle of the night to Breckenridge. Continue to Wednesday ->

Wednesday - Day of presentation: Find a place to sleep in Denver airport until the first shuttle leaves at 8 am. FYI: there's a chapel that has fairly comfy carpet on the floor and is probably the best place to sleep - I use "sleep" loosely since I may have got 2 hours that night. Take shuttle to Breckenridge, look at mountains and everyone skiing and think how fun it would be to do that, go back to hotel room and practice presentation and study for clin path exam on friday, put on suit, register for meeting, notice everyone is wearing jeans, ski pants, and not at all dressed up - not even presenters, get rid of my suit jacket. Also, let me set this up with the fact that I am the only non-doctor presenting and that there were only 40 people in the room at 4 pm when the first presentation began. My presentation was at 5:45 and I noticed the room slowly filling as time went by. It also hit me that I was just before the key speaker of the night. It was my time so I started walking to the stage. Fortunately, I was too tired to panic as I looked at a full room with people standing in the back - estimate: 200-300 people. (Oh and sidenote: I'm not a public speaker at all. The night would be considered a success if I didn't pee my pants.) I made sure to mention that I was a 2nd year vet student in my intro in hopes that I wouldn't get any hard questions at the end. I finished the presentation and now for questions:

First guy: speaking really fast, "Words, words, words, concentration of BMP, words, words, words?"
Me: Stunned, trying to figure out what he said, "I don't know."
Audience laughs
Me: Dreading stating "I don't know" for a bunch of other questions.
Second guy: "It's ok to say you don't know." Tossing me an easy question, "What's your opinion on the importance of VEGF?"
Me: "It's super important." That was a summary. It was much more scientific.
Lady: Asks about COX1. Not sure what the question really was.
Me: Talking about one word from the question and hoping it somewhat answered the question.

The rest of the night I had a lot of people congratulating me presumably because I'm a 2nd year and not so much that my presentation was any good. It was really cool and now I can put it on my CV. I must say that it's pretty cool seeing your own name on the schedule for a somewhat important meeting. Overall, I think it was a mission accomplished.

Thursday: Leave for Denver early in the morning, fly to Chicago to be delayed again, get home, finish studying for clin path.

Friday: Take exam, finish classes, go home and sleep

Now I just have to finish some homework, study for one more exam, and listen to missed lectures. One week till spring break (aka a time to relax for a couple days and catch up on studying).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hibernation Will Begin Soon

I'm only 3 weeks into this semester, but I'm so far behind in all of my classes. I thought I would get caught up this weekend because we didn't have classes friday due to the state veterinary conference going on. The plan was to review all of the material we have covered so far in all my classes. This would be my last chance to catch up before the exams begin on Tuesday. However, reality happens. I was invited to attend a wound reconstruction wet lab. This is a $500 lab that clinicians around the state pay to attend. There goes half of my Sunday. The catch: help set-up and clean-up. Then I find out I need to attend 5 hours of lectures on Saturday to prepare for it. Goodbye, Saturday.

Don't get me wrong, the lab was awesome. I was learning meshing patterns to extend existing skin to cover a defect, relieving tension in the skin and on sutures, and isolating vessels to be preserved in rotational flaps. Yeah, I don't know what that last sentence means either. Apparently, we'll learn this stuff later this semester so I have a little headstart. It was also good practice suturing which I will also officially learn this semester.

The good thing is that I did close the gap in clin path for being 150 pages behind in the reading. I reviewed for my virology exam everyday and reviewed musculoskeletal material. I feel like our class schedule gives us a lot of free time, but my extracurricular activities are eating up needed study/sleep time. I don't even feel like it's that much either. I tutor 2 nights a week for a total of 3 hours, try to prepare for a presentation later this month, try to look for literature about my possible research project this summer, (the last 2 are more on my to-do-list than my actual list of things I do) and then indoor soccer starts this week. It's frustrating at times thinking that I'm so far behind, but I had every opportunity to be caught up. Oh well, I guess that's living the vet school dream.

Anyways, exams will begin on tuesday which means I will enter hibernation mode where I study, sleep, and attend class. As usual, my goal is to do well on these first exams to give myself room for error/slacking off at the end of the semester. I'm a little scared that my test-taking skills have been subpar so far this semester exhibited by my misreading questions on a couple quizzes. I don't think my brain knows the semester has started and it's game time.