Thursday, May 29, 2008

PhD Student for the Summer

While the NIH Student Veterinary Research Program is suppose to teach vet students about a veterinary career in research, which it has, after my first official week in Dr. Liwu Li's Innate Immunity lab, I feel more like an overworked PhD student. The research project I am involved with, which I am still learning about, requires many Real-time PCR experiments. These are very tedious, require pipet precision ( I don't have), and have a multitude of steps. It is a miracle when the results come out correctly.

But each day I understand a little more, and I will surely benefit from this summer experience. Unfortunately, the vacation is over and my main focus is doing my best in the lab, no matter how many hours it requires.

Needless to say my summer projects may not stand a chance for a while, although I do need to dig out my immunology class notes from first semester.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Too many options, not a long enough life

I emailed thank you notes to all the veterinarians who took time out of their schedules to meet with us. They all have opportunities for vet students to get involved, ranging from helping with organic fish labeling (a subject of personal interest), pig-human animal modeling at the USDA, FDA current issues, lab animal medicine at the NIH.

All of these opportunities excite me! I also want to get more clinical experience next summer! I feel excited, invigorated, and overwhelmed! Is there a way to dabble in it all until I figure out which way I should go?

I asked Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Director for the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, to be my mentor and she accepted. I hope she can help me to sort all of this energy out. I need some focus!

I am sure I am jumping the gun, but it's hard when so many issues are close to the heart, challenging, and can pave an exciting career. Ahh the opposite of finance...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer Research Program Starts with a Bang

Monday May 19 was the first day of the NIH Summer Student Research Program that will occupy the majority of my summer. The first 2 days were in the DC metro area visiting with veterinarians working in alternative careers, most of which require a dual DVM/PHD degree.

We met with veterinarians working for the USDA, NIH, and FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. There are a wealth of opportunities in what appear to be very rewarding careers. Exposure to these different career paths was enlightening and at the same time daunting because so many aspects of the field excite me. My entire group listened in awe at these amazing careers and after each veterinarian finished we all looked at each other and said, "Now I want to do that!"

I am excited about my summer research project, and once the ethics training required by NIH is completed I will start the actual work after Memorial Day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

1 week out

It's hard to believe that over a week ago I finished my first year of vet school. I think I have caught up on sleep, cleaned up the house, and restarted my fitness program, all of which feels great. In fact, I could go for another week of lounging around. Unfortunately, my summer research position starts this Sunday night on my birthday May 18. :( Sunday night is a kickoff dinner and the itinerary for the week will be announced. Monday and Tuesday are spent visiting with veterinarians with alternative careers in research at the FDA, NIH, and academia. Tuesday afternoon/evening I head back to VT.

The apartment in Blacksburg also needs a good cleaning and organizational renewal. I suppose it's handy that I like to clean when I am upset or bored.

So my quality time with the house, cats and Matt is coming to an end. My 11 days off flew right past me. At least it will end with a birthday BBQ tomorrow night (please don't rain) and spending the day with Matt on our bikes (again, please don't rain).

Poor Garfield is still straining to pee, so I think I'll have to take him back with me when I go to my vet tech shift at the Hope Center tonight.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Impossible Happened

By some small miracle my first year of veterinary school has come to a close. While still awaiting the ill-fated parasitology grade, all the other classes I have passed.

The end of the year bash was a blast. I hadn't seen my classmates so happy and smiling since the day before spring break. As much as the past few weeks dragged on, it is truly hard to believe that the first year is done. They are not kidding when they say it goes by really quickly!

Anxiety for 2nd year will develop shortly, of course, but for now it's time to enjoy some summer freedom!

On a side note ironically the night before my urinary pathology exam, my cat Garfield came down with a lower urinary tract infection, which slightly dampened the celebration. He is at the trusted Hope Center clinic under excellent care, so I know he will be okay. I cannot wait to give him a big hug today when I get back into town.

Monday, May 5, 2008

May 7th never felt so far away

Well I know it can and will be worse, but right now it's just plain horrible. 3 finals back to back is grueling and everyone is exhausted, and all we get to do is go home and study. I haven't even had enough time to work out the past 2 days, so more of my stress is building up. I feel like crying, laughing, sleeping, running, and laying down helplessly. These are some of the longest, frustrating 3 days of my life (that may be a slight exaggeration).

It will either be a relief or a horror to have anatomy done tomorrow (20% of the exam is cumulative and I remember nothing), but having to study for 1 last exam will be excruciatingly painful indeed. At least that is the comparatively easiest final for the least % of the final grade as a consolation.

May 7 feels out of reach and it's 2 hours away from May 6...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

3 more exams left

With the worst exam of the entire first year behind me, I am poised for the next 3 exams. I hope to reconcile my parasitology grade with a stellar performance on the remaining 3 subjects.

One weekend left to study (not much else to do but pack), 4 more questionable nights of sleep, and 3 more school days remain.

Some friends and I relaxed with manicures and pedicures yesterday in honor of a birthday and the end of parasitology! It felt nice and it's really downhill from here.

Neurobiology on Monday, Anatomy on Tuesday and Pathology on Wednesday. It's hard to believe we are down to the very final days.