8 steps to having a good first year in vet

With the end of my first year of veterinary medicine finally coming to a close it seemed fitting to share 8 steps I used to help me have the best first year of vet school!

Don’t work too hard 

  • Hard work is amazing. Never run away from hard work; you get out of it what you put into it. You’ll need to study, memorize, practice, learn every day in vet school. But I hear classes only get harder and the schedule gets busier, so don’t destroy yourself in first year trying to keep up.

 

Make sure you make good friends with lots of people

  • One day these friends will turn into co-workers! For right now they are study buddies, best friends, network contacts, etc. University days are supposed to be the best days of your life–and good friends help with that!

Get involved with clubs, exec, off campus activities

  • This was something I did in my undergrad degree and it generated a lot of favourite memories. Becoming a part of a club or team will allow you to get to know people better and make more friends. I also found it really important to have friends outside of vet.

Get to know your profs quickly

  • Believe me, this will help when it comes to networking or studying, or feeling like you belong. You can be friends with your profs! If a professor knows who you are they will better be able to answer questions or frustrations you may send them while studying; they’ll also be more willing to offer up industry contacts or experience.

 

Don’t share your grades with friends

  • This might not be helpful for you, but for me–I’m ridiculously competitive. By not sharing my grades with other people I’m keeping my stress levels down. I’m working hard on studying, getting grades that I’m satisfied with and not constantly trying to outdo everyone just for the fun of it (this has made for a much more relaxing school year).

 

Change your study habits

  • I have found that there is a lot of students who have entered vet without an appropriate study technique. These students definitely need to speak to other classmates and professors to find the best way to learn material. I was confident in my study habits, but I changed some of them up for something new —it gets a bit boring when you’ve been studying the same way for 5 or 6 years. It is also important to recognize that different classes may need to be studied for in different ways. Example: class A would be great to learn via flash cards; class B would be great to learn via straight memorization; class C would be great to learn by drawing out flow charts, time-lines, and summaries.

Keep your doors open

  • So many students come in to vet knowing that they want to do cats and dogs or large animals. (Right now I want to do large animals when I graduate!) However, I think that everyone should embrace the wide range of knowledge and opportunities gifted to us in school. Try and learn about all animals and don’t discount something because you do not believe you’ll ever work in that field. The amount of vets who graduated and then completely changed their area of interest is huge!

 

Never forget where you are!

  • In case you didn’t notice: YOU ARE IN VET SCHOOL. How hard was it to get here? How long have you been working for this? Would you want to do anything else with your life? When exams and papers and lower grades feel like they are piling up just remember that one day you’ll be a doctor (and that is a HUGE accomplishment)!

Volunteering at the Royal Melbourne Show

Some of my absolute favorite memories in life have been made while interning or volunteering. I absolutely love it and this weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Royal Melbourne Show! The RMS is like a huge carnival with trade shows and games and food and lots of different pavilions. I signed up to work in the Heritage Sheep Exhibit for 2 days.

The sheep pens all cleaned up and closed down for the night

The sheep pens all cleaned up and closed down for the night

My time was spent making sure the sheep had enough feed and water all day and were not being stressed or abused by any onlookers. I was also able to answer the questions that members of the public had regarding the exhibit, breeds, and sheep farming in general. Most people were quite excited to hear my accent and asked about my background in agriculture in Canada.

My supervisor and I were required to keep the area neat and tidy and free of all escaped bits of straw—this included some frustrating sweeping between the legs of thousands of people!

All of the sheep came from different breeders and so they were not allowed to intermingle. The Cheviots were very sweet and appreciated a scratch behind the ears. The two Shropshire lambs required bottle feeding a couple times a day; their names were Pickles and Beeper.

Meet a Dorset Horn with a stubborn personality!

Meet a Dorset Horn with a stubborn personality!

At the end of my second shift we had to muck out all the stalls. For those who don’t know, this means that we had to take a pitch fork and pick up and remove all the heavy soiled straw from the pens and sweep it out into large piles to be removed. We then had to break up new bales of fresh straw and lay this down as clean bedding in each pen before the sheep are allowed their supper. This is hard work, especially when you have to watch the sheep don’t escape! By the time I got home that night my boots had been stuffed FULL of straw (which promptly exploded all over the hall of my apartment)!

Good thing my vacuum cleaner is broken!

Good thing my vacuum cleaner is broken!

I did hear a few rumors that the Heritage Sheep Exhibit might be on its last legs and be non-existent in a few years. This is heartbreaking news to hear as ag education is something very dear to my heart. I think it is SO important for society to be exposed to livestock, farming, food, agriculture, etc. People need to be educated on where their food comes from and how it is produced. Amazing shows like this provide a fantastic learning opportunity for curious people to learn more about something they are unfamiliar with. Since the wool industry is massive in Australia I think it is very important that exhibits such as this one remain in place!

I had a fabulous experience volunteering in the sheep exhibit; I was able to pick my supervisor’s brain, get some hands on experience with sheep, practice my agriculture/public engagement, and do some networking. I love making connections and I’ve met some very kind and helpful people this weekend. I hope to be back working at the show next year.

This is Bob Marley who is an English Leicester.

This is Bob Marley who is an English Leicester.

This is Mrs. Marley who is also an English Leicester

This is Mrs. Marley who is also an English Leicester

Semester 2

I think its about time I sent out a quick little update! After finishing my first semester of DVM the winter break in July was much anticipated! Now I’m back into the thick of it, and have just finished my first midterm of semester 2. The classes I am in this term are:

Cardiovascular System

Foundations of Animal Health 2

Animal Health in Production Systems

Cardio takes up a lot of my time, but I find it quite interesting! This is the first class I’ve taken where I’m actually required to build on knowledge I’ve learned in previous classes (last semester) to understand whole concepts. Previously I’ve just gathered knowledge, but now I’m starting to integrate it. We have had some cool practical classes in cardio so far, listening to equine hearts and trying to hear murmurs, testing out our stethoscope skills on dogs, trialing drug reactions on organ tissue, and practicing blood pressure readings.

Foundations of Animal Health 2 is a continuation of FAH1 that I took last semester, currently we have been learning about controversial animal welfare issues. A lot of these issues I learned about, researched, or wrote on in my undergrad (beak trimming, tail-docking, de-horning, housing systems/confinement, sentience/ability to feel pain, etc), however, it is now very different to learn about the issue from an Australian perspective. I’ve also been able to discuss some more Australian-specific issues such as: jump racing, kangaroo culling, and mulesing. So far I;m liking this course a lot better than I did last semester!

Animal Health in Production Systems has so far covered the different types of animal industries that I might be working or involved in. We have focused on swine, (pet) exotic birds, dairy, beef, camelids, sheep, and horses. This course included the information and handling practice I completed during my very first week of vet school! The lectures we have had on birds have been really interesting to me! While working in vet clinics I have seen many sick birds come in; now I have the background knowledge and husbandry tips to better understand this cases. The dairy industry has probably been my favorite for a few years now; I love working with the sweet girls and learning about the reproductive management on dairy farms. The Australian dairy industry is vastly different from the North America one so that has been difficult to wrap my mind around!

That’s it for now, I’m out for some fun this weekend after a long couple of weeks of studying/cramming!

A group of us hanging out and learning how ECGs work and how to read the traces to tell us information on heart disease.

A group of us hanging out and learning how ECGs work and how to read the traces to tell us information on heart disease.

Horse Vet Checks

On Sunday I had the opportunity to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and drive a couple of hours away to work with some horses! For a vet student I have been feeling particularly animal deprived so I was pretty excited for this day. We don’t see too many live animals in our classes or practicals at school. I don’t have any pets here and I don’t work at a vet clinic here either so I was needing a little time to do what I do best– be with animals.

This was a cross country and jumping event with a couple hundred horses. After the horses were finished competing the riders would bring them to our vet paddock where they would walk them and cool them off. I was there with a couple other first year DVM students and some second year DVM students. It was then our job to assess the horses’ demeanor, heart rate, and if there were any obvious injuries present before allowing the horse to go back to its trailer. The vet supervising us was amazing and made sure that the vet students did all the work so we got quite a lot of practice! By the end of the day I was feeling really comfortable with taking heart rates on horses! There was a couple of horses that passed through with slightly more medical problems and then we could ask the vet questions on how she would handle the problem and future concerns.

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Ideally we wanted the horses’ heart rates to be returning to and under 80 bpm before heading back to their trailer

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The vet student crew! 

I have only a couple days of classes left before heading into the exam break… pray for me, wish me luck, and I’ll see you on the other side!