Last Day of DVM1

WOW! I love vet school so much! Today was simply amazing, not because it was my last day of lectures—but because of all the fun and interesting things that happened:

I came in before my class to help my roommate with a bake sale she planned to raise funds for the Australian Rhino Project. We baked 300 cupcakes and decorated them all and then sold them in front of the student’s union building. All of the proceeds are going to the Aus Rhino Project who is working to bring a breeding herd of rhinos to Aus as a conservation measure. There will be 80 rhinos brought over in the next 3 years. The bake sale was an idea inspired after listening to a completely engaging and terrifying lecture on the future of rhinos in Africa (and how close they drift towards extinction).

Save the rhinos! Buy a cupcake!

Save the rhinos! Buy a cupcake!

I left the bake sale to go to a case study. This year we have 2 to 3 case studies a week (one for each class) that works to bring a lot of the learned concepts together. This case study was HUGE! It was complicated. And I understood…most of it…. (I might have to go home and review my notes again). The class worked through a dog that was brought into the clinic after being hit by a car. After looking at physical exam results, radiographs, ultrasounds, and blood gas analysis we determined that the dog had a pneumothorax and a uroabdomen.

Next was a practical class where we watched our professor artificially inflate a pair of sheep lungs to demonstrate ventilation/perfusion matching, pneumothorax, atelectasis, etc. It was very cool to see this instead of just reading about it.

Then I caught a quick tram ride to Melbourne Zoo where Zoos Victoria was hosting a Zoo Conservation Ethics/Welfare Q&A lecture with Jenny Gray and Peter Sandoe. The discussion was HUGELY stimulating, intellectually diverse, and even heated at times. We raised many complicated questions of best methods for zoos to work in conservation, culling, public education, and how to categorize zoo animals (are they wild animals? domesticated? tamed? companions?). By the end of 2 hours my brain was exhausted— but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my first year of DVM!! I can’t wait to see what my last day of DVM2 looks like 🙂


Now excuse me while I go hermit away and study for finals!

Blood smears and bone marrow

Every week we have several practical classes. These are the classes where we have hands on contact with animals, or are looking at microscope slides, or handling and assessing preserved tissues, etc. This year we have mostly had pathology practical classes. We spend a few hours in a cold room wearing our labcoats and gloves and handling tissues. Some of the tissues/organs we have been looking at are: digestive tracts (rumens, stomachs, esophagus), livers, kidneys, hearts, lungs (they have all been preserved). We look for signs of diseases, different presentations, abscesses, parasites, cancer, infection, inflammation, abnormalities…the list goes on! Usually the classes are long and overwhelming with information!

This week we did something a bit different than handling cold preserved organs. In the first half of prac we did some hematology work. Did you know that red blood cells are also called erythrocytes? We practiced blood smears; this is a common diagnostic test done in clinics. A blood smear lets you examine which cells are present, if they look normal, if there is too many cells or too few. This can give a veterinarian a lot of valuable information on a case!

My blood smears; practice makes perfect!

My blood smears; practice makes perfect!

We also checked packed cell volume (PCVs) of different animal bloods. PCV tells you the percentage of red blood cells in a sample (the other 2 parts of blood are plasma and a buffy coat (white blood cells and platelets). If there is not enough blood cells seen on a PCV, the animal might be anemic. We also spent some time looking at cells under the microscope to see if we could identify all the different types.

In the second half of prac class we got to practice bone marrow sampling. Did you know that red blood cells are made in the bone marrow and then move out of the bones into the blood? The bone marrow is sampled to check for signs of infection, disease, or other problems. We learned the correct way to use a bone marrow needle and the specific locations on the body that the needle need to be placed. The needle needs to be inserted through the skin and into the center of a bone in order to suck up bone marrow. After a few tries (on deceased animals) I was starting to get the hang of it!

This was a really fun and practical afternoon of practicing some clinical skills. I wanted to share with everyone so you could have a bit more of an understanding of what I do in uni!


A bone marrow aspiration needle. Image from:

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!