As of 9:32 a.m on May 6th, 2008, I am officially done with my first year of studies at the University of Elsewhere College of Veterinary Medicine. It has been absolutely more than I could imagine-- more work, more pain, more suffering, more long hours spent over books and notebooks and dead bodies than I thought a person could undertake and survive. It has also been more informative, more practical, more fun, more hilarious, and more fulfilling than I would have thought I'd ever be able to drink in in an entire degree's worth of schooling, let alone two short semesters.
In this time, we have hosted fund raisers, completely dismantled four different species, thrown parties, completed a low ropes course, organized fraternities, discussed everyone's top three choices for birthday party attendance, witnessed football failures and triumphs, and run a successful Open House event, complete with zebra. We have also unfortunately lost five members of our original 96-- one to pregnancy, two to job offers, one to poor performance, and one to mysterious circumstances that may or may not have included an internet love affair. There is the possibility we will lose at least two more due to bad grades. We are among the record books for most students ever lost. We've earned the reputation as the “slacker” class, and because of us, the UGA CVM Class of 2012 has a stellar incoming grade point average.
With all that being said, I'd like to share some of the more pertinent things I've learned from my first year in vet school. Hopefully it will prove that the Class of 2011 did, in fact, learn a few things.
- Pollux = thumb, thyrus = shield, pudenda = shame, and Dr. Tom Purinton = Latin Root Champion '08
- Pampiniform plexus is a labyrinthine counter-current vasculature mechanism that allows cooling of the testicles. Also, takes 2nd on the “Top Five Awesome Anatomy Terms” list, right behind “gubernaculum”
- In the event that your blood smears get completely mixed up, and assuming all animals are without active infection or parasitism, species differences can be employed as a sorting technique. Avian and reptilian red blood sells are nucleated and oval-shaped, unlike mammalian RBC's. Equine species have eosinophils that have large mulberry-like granules inside them. Bovine species have a large number of lymphocytes. Or, you could just label your slides.
- Proper trichrome staining is basically the same as artwork.
- Microsporum canis is actually the leading cause of ringworm in cats.
- “What happens when you put a whole bunch of organisms in a big pile? That's right. They have sex. The bacteria in your gut are having more sex right now than you've ever thought about, I don't care who you are.”
- Pre-hepatic jaundice causes dark brown feces, hepatic jaundice has normal feces, and post-hepatic jaundice is evidenced by pale to grey feces.
- Insulin is the only true anabolic hormone.
- Dr. Hogan was born in the 1970's.
- Environmental microflora populate the entire (previously sterile) GI tract by 24 hours after birth.
- If you get a D.V.M, you will end up getting sued.
- A single antibody titer is needed to prove infection in the case of persistent intracellular pathogens, such as feline leukemia virus. In other cases, such as parvovirus, a paired sample set approximately two weeks apart is best.
- It is difficult to concentrate when your professor literally wrote the book, and is also a landlord.
- Lungs are for breathing, but also for acid balance in the body.
- PRRSV vaccine is ineffective. Probably.
- Biosecurity for calf hutches on a dairy operation can be enhanced by placing them on a grassy hill, at least six feet apart. Grassy to catch run-off, hills so run-off is possible, and six feet apart because that's about how far they can sneeze, cough, or projectile diarrhea.
- If you travel the globe and become a well-respected member of the international medicine community, you should take the time to try new things.
- There is no simple answer to proper animal welfare.
- Everyone loves cake. Everyone loves tiny cupcakes more.
- Mini bottles will mess you up.
- Saturday and Sunday are work days. The weekend starts on whatever day the tests are over, and ends 4 days before the next tests start. You may not see a weekend for a month or two.
- If you drop off an item at Mark Richt's office, he will sign it to say whatever you ask. If you don't tell anyone that, you can auction a football with a promise of Mark Richt's signature for several hundred dollars to support ongoing education.
- Black cats are much less likely to be adopted than any other color of cat.
- Nothing is more exciting than the coupon book that contains 8 crisp new crossword puzzles.
- There is always an excuse to wear scrubs.
- The forest elephant of Central West Africa more closely genetically resembles the Indian elephant as opposed to its savannah elephant cousin with whom it shares the African continent.
- 50% of your class will know what classes are happening the next day. 95% of them will know what free lunches are happening in the next two weeks.
- It is not appropriate to cut the tail off of your dissection specimen, place it in his mouth, and then innocently tell your professor that “he finally caught it”.
- Kayaking is serious business.
- Vultures regurgitate as a mechanism of self-defense. It smells about like you would expect.
- In high school, you had to sit in the same room with the same people day in and day out, and everyone knew everyone else's business. Just because you've already got two diplomas doesn't mean it's not still high school.
- Intra-class dating is extremely risky. Sometimes, it's worth it.
- Local breweries are rare places that should be investigated and enjoyed.
- Always sign up for free money. There's more of it than you think there is.
- A female horse is a mare. A female ox is a cow. A female cat is a queen. A female dog is almost always a set up for some sort of hilarious statement.
So, there it is. There is, of course, no brief way to sum up what I've experienced in the last year. The learning has not always been applicable, but that gets resolved very soon. The learning curve was steep, but we managed to slog through in a manner in which I can only describe as “admirable”. I am so appreciative of my classmates, many of whom I would never have expected to have chosen this profession, and more of whom I would have never expected to befriend. Here I find myself at the end of a brutal introduction to my career-- stronger, wiser, happier, healthier, and above all more committed. I am thrilled that it's over. I am terrified that this means I am one-quarter of the way to being an honest-to-God doctor. But here I am. I made it... and I'm not stopping now.