Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Blog Alert- Veterinary Brainstorm

I have been on blog hiatus since graduating veterinary school in 2011. My hiatus has been due to a number of factors including a veterinary internship in small animal emergency and internal medicine, relocating to Phoenix, AZ and starting a career as a small animal emergency clinician, and writers bloc. As I began to settle into my career and make my way up the learning curve, I found myself closing 2012 wanting more from my career and thinking, "is this it?" Before my previous fans get too upset let me explain.

I enjoy small animal emergency medicine and become more confident each day.  There are frustrations, however, and after 4 months in practice, I started to revisit my long-term career goals. I realized that I missed my connection to the broader veterinary community, as well as veterinary students. I signed up to be a mentor through the AZ VMA and joined their Young Leaders Advisory Council and PR task force committees. These groups have been invigorating and enabled me to network with veterinarians in the local community and have an impact on the community outside of my practice.

While hiking with my husband, I was mentioning how I'd like to compose another blog, but I had nothing to write about. Writing a blog in vet school was easy, there was always something new and exciting happening or an exam to stress on. Daily practice, even emergency, is not always that exciting once it becomes a job.  He came up with many ideas such as discussing transitioning from school to my internship into practice, inspiring cases, and the list kept going. The foundation for Veterinary Brainstorm was forming.

The excitement to start another blog occurred on a trip visiting Mississippi State veterinary school as a representative in training for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI). This position will be discussed in a future blog entry, but it made me realize that a new blog would further my connection to prospective veterinarians, students, and others in the profession beyond the local level.  My prior blog ( inspired many people who reached out to me via email, telephone, and even spawned some in-person meetings. I hope this blog will inspire similar connections and discussions about relevant topics in veterinary medicine and my new career as it takes shape. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

4 Years in Reflection

Clearly, I like lists I am a type A vet student. As the week of graduation quickly approaches, I wanted to reflect on the top 10 things that have happened to me over the past 4 years.
  1. Traveled to China, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Scotland and England, and Spokane, Washington.
  2. Attended many veterinary conferences: North American Veterinary Conference, Merck Summer Scholars Conference at Michigan State, VBMA National Meeting, SAVMA Symposium at Ohio State, VVMA conference in Roanoke, VA.
  3. Rescued my dog on a Humane Society RAVS trip.
  4. Learned how to handle wild raptors, songbirds, and mammals.
  5. Lived alone.
  6. Lived in Blacksburg, VA, a special place indeed.
  7. Became a crossfit junkie.
  8. Discovered rock climbing and kayaking.
  9. Created and developed lifelong friendships.
  10. Became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
There are countless other moments that occurred over the past 4 years that have changed my life and shaped who I am. I have become stronger and wiser, while remaining humble and ignorant of many things left to learn. I left a lifeless career to enter a bright, challenging career with the bills to prove it.

Thanks vet school. Thanks to all my friends for their endless support. Thanks to my amazing 3 cats and wonderful dog. Thanks to all my teachers. Thanks to myself for persevering and finding the strength to get through the 4 years. Lastly and most importantly, thanks to my husband. He never wavered when I wanted to quit and drive 500+ miles a week to support me. I cannot wait to support you on your journey of higher education.

This blog entry marks the end of life of a veterinary student. I hope to create a new blog entitled "Life of a Veterinary Intern." Thank you followers for making me a part of your journeys. You can always email me with questions or for inspiration. 7+ years in the making and I can tell you, anythign is possible if you are passionate and work hard enough.

Wildlife Center of VA

This rotation presented challenges and amazing learning opportunities, much like my last few blocks of vet school. I realized how much I have committed to memory about small animals and how little I know about birds, other mammals and wildlife management. After 3 weeks, however, I can collect blood from turtles, vultures, foxes, owls, raptors and songbirds. Today I collected blood from a painted turtle (super hard because you can’t see a vein) and a Turkey vulture both on the first attempt. I am now familiar with radiographs of these species as well. I learned how to identify baby birds, how to bandage broken wings, and when to try and when to euthanize wildlife based on injury. I absolutely loved the cultivated learning environment. Every single case was made into a learning experience by the staff in a hands-on fashion. Kudos to an excellent wildlife teaching hospital.

The first 10 days were extremely challenging, but I persevered and the reward has been invaluable. I am equipped to answer wildlife and exotics questions from my clients. I am no longer afraid of handling birds; in fact I love birds. This block in many ways was similar to my equine block. I went in fearful and apprehensive and left loving it. However, wildlife medicine has its downsides. Many animals cannot be released and are euthanized and many days it feels like you kill more than treat. On the upside to that, for many animals you stop their suffering and there is no client or financial decisions to interfere with the medicine.

The past 3 weeks have again confirmed that I love emergency and critical care; it's where my passion lies. I watched a blockmate who truly is passionate about wildlife and realized that is exactly how I feel about emergency. I am so thankful I had the chance to explore different areas of vet med over the past 4 years: Research, government work, lab animal medicine, wildlife medicine, organized veterinary medicine and many others. It is ironic that all of my exploration led me back to emergency medicine. We'll see how much I still love it after the next year of hard hours. I am ready...bring it on!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Block 16 into Block 17

Spring fever has arrived and graduation fever arrived with it. My locker is cleaned out. My coveralls, surgical gowns, extra scrubs, old stethoscope sold to other students. Received my internship schedule today for the next 12+ months. Only 1 more rotation left between Class of 2011 and graduation day. That day we thought was impossible, that now is going to happen. I have been reflecting on how much I have grown through this process and how excited about my new career I am.

My last rotation at the teaching hospital has been more fun than I ever expected. My week on equine field services included going to Mill Mountain Zoo to help work on a 15 year old snow leopard with chronic vomiting. I jumped in and drew blood, ultrasounded his abdomen and learned once again that a regular vet can do zoo work on the side. The vet was humble, nice and applied his small animal knowledge to the leopard. I felt comfortable ultrasounding him and with his work up and thought to myself, "I could do this." It was a great trip and I learned they make portable fun.

I have truly enjoyed working with horses. WHile I still don't know the lingo or how to lunge a horse, I do know a nice horse when I meet one and totally understand why they are deemed amazing creatures. I hope to have some trail/pleasure horses one day and definitely want to learn how to basic ride.

Meanwhile, I can count my days left in the Burg on 1 hand, but they are fun days. Saturday is 3.2 mile for 32 run in remembrance, a run I have done every year while I was here. Saturday is also Spokane's last agility lesson. Then it is off to Northern VA for a day to unpack the house and transport the cats for the final time. When I return to Blacksburg it will be graduation week, time to celebrate, canoe and camp with friends and get ready for a new chapter.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

37 Days

I am currently on the last senior rotation I will have at the veterinary teaching hospital at VT and I cannot believe it. In some ways I feel ready, in some ways I don't want to leave. It has been one busy block on large animal services, but I absolutely love horses. They are amazing, and I am no longer afraid. I have been blessed with some really great patients to work with, including a baby camel and her mom, who was thankfully nice as far as camel mom's go. I barely had a weekend last week, but as for my last few weeks in Blacksburg I cannot complain. The cases have been rewarding and I have learned a lot. I am more comfortable than I ever imagined I would be and I hope to learn more about horses as a hobby in the future. Lameness is so much more exciting when it is happening in a horse and not in a lecture.

Today I got to experience some alternative medicine therapies applied to chronic back pain; tomorrow I will massage my horse with a human electric massager! While I am nervous that I have been out of the small animal realm for a while before starting my internship, it will be a long time before I get to do this again and it's fun. I realize more each day that life really is the journey and not the destination, although reaching your destination is extremely fulfilling it's the journey that makes it that way.

9 more days of horses than off to work with wildlife. I cannot believe that my life as a veterinary student is coming to a close.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Only 2 Rotations Left!

I have mentioned it before in recent postings, but I cannot tell you how odd it is to be happy and sad at the same time with a dash of disbelief on top. I can vividly remember second year feeling as if becoming a veterinarian was a path with an unattainable destination. Well the destination is heading toward me very quickly.

Recently on lab services, I have had time to do some activites with my 2 year old dog, Spokane. We are in the midst of grasping the sport of fly ball, starting the trail running season, and this weekend started agility lessons, with an amazing trainer in a beautiful Blacksburg setting. Of course as these activities start becoming rewarding for myself and my dog, they will need to wind down soon. While they can be continued when I return to Northern VA/Washington DC area, they will be more expensive, hectic to travel to, and impersonal. I am so grateful to everything this town has given me these 4 years, so here is a list for those Type-A's out there:

Blacksburg Greats:
  1. Blue Ridge Parkway proximity- a vista, mountain, trail, friendly face at every mile
  2. Pandapas Pond- best place on earth for biking and trail running
  3. Virginia Tech's spirit- 3.2 for 32, VT football, VT vs Duke basketball, etc
  4. Crossfit Blacksburg
  5. Akke's Yoga Place & In-balance Yoga- Akke you kept me level-headed years 2&3
  6. Blacksburg Farmer's Market-always seeing a friendly face and acquiring local goods
  7. Nellie's Cave Park and all my neighbors- the unofficial offleash dog area
  8. The lack of chain restaurants and quality of the independent restaurants-Gillie's, Souvlaki, Cellar, Cabo, Easy Chair, Bogens, Sal's, Sake House, Bangkok Bistro, Lefty's, Daily Bread
  9. Roanoke Non-Ultra Trail Series & Roanoke's charm
  10. The mountains all around at the end of hard day.
When I think of vet school, I think of the fun and my lifelong friendships that have developed and the sense of community I have never experienced before. I have tuned out the bad because at the end of this experience what remains is an appreciative, stronger (mentally and physically thx X-Fit), smarter, more confident, person, with a sense of self and better friends than I could have ever imagined. I will search the rest of my life to find those friends and community again; I wouldn't be at all surprised if in the end I return to Blacksburg.

There is a tension that develops inside all of us when facing a transitional period between what you are leaving behind and what lies ahead. I have chosen to embrace and feel that tension and it has helped face the reality that this crazy chapter of my life that has been so hard and so rewarding is coming to a close. I decided this week that I wanted to commemorate this time with a class ring, something I never thought or wanted to purchase before.

On a completely separate note, I enjoyed necropsy much better this week. I diagnosed Yew toxicity in a dog that died a sudden death and saw some other cool cases. I love histopathology (the microscopic aspect) and I may be coming around to gross pathology; however, I know for sure I do not want to be a pathologist when I grow up.

This week will involve more free time than I know what to do with. Time to pack, get organized and play wtih SPokane. Next block is primary care land of no life and horses, horses, horses.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Only 3 rotations left...Lab Services Finally Arrives

Anesthesia was an absolutely busy and amazing block. One of my favorites and 3 weeks where I learned an exponential amount of material and gained amazing clinical experience. It was also my last small animal clinical block.

So here I am 2 days into laboratory services, the "vacation rotation." It has been exhausting due to an extremely high caseload of large animal necropsies. The last 2 days I have left after 5 PM, smelly, dirty and tired with homework to do and a dog to play with. I truly hope the caseload lightens up, I feel beaten down and too tired to be a good mom to Spokane and make time for exercise.

In the morning it is crash review of previous material from bacteriology, virology, toxicology, parasitology and clinical pathology. The -ologies coming back from the dead. What I remember amazes me, what I forgot depresses me. But reviewing the material is helpful and so far the instructors have made it fun.

In the afternoon, it's time to play Dexter. Each day we have had 1 horse and 1 cow, and because we do not have an incinerator cutting up the animals for disposal along with the odor are the worst parts. You get pretty messy (#1 dirtiest job ever) and it is physically taxing. I, for one, need knife use 101. I truly hope that Spokane's energy level decreases slightly and that we don't have this level of cases for the rest of the block. In the past few months, I have heard my classmates complain about no necropsy cases today; well I want that complaint.

While I enjoyed pathology classes in years 1 & 2, this rotation made it clear to me that becoming a pathologist is not my gig. Even clinical pathology, which I do love, is not something I would want to do exclusively. Slides are fun, but patients and critical care is much more fun. I keep reflecting on how open my mind was 3 years ago. While I feel a tad guilty to not be as open-minded as I once was, I feel good that I know where my strongest interests lie. It took a long time and a lot of exploration to get to this point. For that reason I beg, please no more horses to cut into pieces please.