Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 4

Today's case is involves an emaciated ewe that's losing her hair. They've already given us a tentive diagnosis, but I think they're going to throw us for a loop on wednesday (and based off the name of the case in one class's grade book, I'm pretty sure where its going.)

I don't know a damn thing about sheep, except that they taste bad (I ordered lamb shanks at the Elephant Bar once. Was not impressed). Thursday I get to actually put my grubby little mitts on real sheep!

And just for fun, one of my classmates posted a link to this video on facebook.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Humane Society crisis averted.

Tyler and I drove down to the Humane society today to iron out the pet's liscenses. I gave them the paperwork I had, showed them when all the critters were fixed, they asked when we moved to Pomona, and done. That was it. No late fees, no hassle about sterilization certificates, a completely painless process. I think poor Tyler just got the short end of the stick with the person who was helping him. I got the helpful, nice CSR, and he got the person who had a little bit of authority, and decided to go on a power trip.

I also spent about 4 hours in the anatomy lab this morning. I think I'm pretty solid on the bones and vessels of the pelvic limb, but I still suck at the muscles. My goal this weekend is to get them straightened out.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Damn horse case

So I figured since today was friday, we'd finally be told what the diagnosis on our horse case was for the week. It gave us some genetic info on his Dam, and then when we asked for a genetic test for the condition we thought we had, the case said "before being able to conclusively diagnose this horse, it was struck by lightning and died." Aargh! So frustrating, but I guess all our cases are based on real animals, so that's what actually happened with the horse in question.

I also went to that paleopathology talk today. It was really awesome. The pathologist who was presenting was talking about how she worked with Sue the T-Rex. I'm jealous.

I also got my required tan coveralls for when we do clinical skills at the ovine and bovine places. Tan coveralls just scream "put a ghostbusters patch on me" in my head. As tempting as it is, I don't think anybody would have a sense of humor about it. But really, why tan coveralls? Whats wrong with blue or green?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Struggles with the inland empire humane society

During the last day of orientation for school, I came home to find a letter hanging on my doorknob from the inland empire humane society (the group that covers Pomona and a bunch of other cities,) basically saying "leave a check and rabies certs for all your pets, for when we come back by tomorrow, or we'll slam you with late fees" So I found the cat's rabies certificates, wrote a check, and left it hanging on the front door. The next day, when I came back from the white coat ceremony, there was an invoice for all the critters, saying they still needed rabies certs for the dogs. About a week later, I got a letter in the mail saying that I owed late fees, plus they wanted to charge me the "unfixed" fee for each of my pets. I also still needed proof of rabies for my dogs.

Well, when I vaccinated my dogs last year, I forgot to print out rabies certificates. No big deal, but I since I didn't print them, I couldn't call work and ask them to print them retroactively. So I made an appointment with school for the first day they were available to get my dogs re-vaccinated.

Today was the first day that they could get me in, that I had a few hours off from class. I got the dogs re-vaccinated, got rabies certificates, and sent Tyler to the humane society to straighten it out while I was in class.

Apparently, the girl he talked to was a complete dick about the whole thing. She kept insisting that she needed spay and neuter certificates for each of the pets to prove they were fixed. Fair enough, except I don't think our clinic even offered such a thing. I didn't have "certificates" of their reproductive status, but I did send him with their freaking MEDICAL RECORDS, that document each of the surgeries. They wouldn't accept the medical records as proof of being sterilized. Then Tyler mentioned that the late fee was bogus - we had complied with their liscensing request, and it was within 30 days of moving here, even though we weren't able to iron everything out until today. The bimbo he talked to gave him the business card of the person to talk to, even though the person was right there in the office, and she could have just let Tyler talk to him then and there. Tyler wasn't sure how to proceed, so he waited to call until I got out of class - and now he's out for the day.

I guess I'm driving down there on Saturday to try to iron it out. But if I strangle somebody there, you all know why.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An unexpected twist

In PBL today, we got our genetic test back for our horse. It turns out that the genetic disease that made sense for his pedegree and symptoms wasn't the problem. *sigh* back to reading.

We also had a "club day" during lunch. All the clubs set up booths, sold random stuff and food, and recruited members. I ended up joining the Zoo, Wildlife, Exotic and Conservation club, the pathology club, and I'll probably end up joining the student chapter of the AVMA and the emergency and critical care clubs as well.

Yesterday, I had my first morning at Banfield. Did a physical exam on a boxer, ran bloodwork, and did a blood differential. Not a whole lot for being there for 4 hours, but it beats sitting through a lecture. I think I have 3 more clinical experiences before midterms: one with VACS, our school's mobile spay/neuter van, one with sheep and ruminants, and one with horses. One of the vets that was teaching us exam skills was telling us how jealous he is of the early exposure we're getting. He said he was super excited when he went to vet school, because he finially got to touch a cat his third year.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week 3

Just got home from our first day of week 3. We have a horse case this week. We're dealing with a yearling with muscle spasms and "Impressive" lineage (horse people or Fugly Horse of the Day readers will know exactly what we're dealing with here), a lame limb, worms and cryptorchidism.

I'm trying to get started researching everything I need to. I know what physiology I need to look up, the parasitology, the pharmacology, and everything else - but I don't know what I should read about in anatomy to prepare for anatomy lab tomorrow. Hock? Testicles? A certain muscle group? Aargh.

After I posted this, I just checked my email, and HECK YES!!!!

The study of diseases in ancient animals, like dinosaurs, is complicated by the lack of most clinical tools -- lab values, pathogen culturing, genetic analysis, symptomatology, even soft tissue. Neverless, some diseases are revealed in the fossil record. Their analysis is profoundly affected by modern animals used as comparitive reference models. This is an excelent opportunity to learn about cases of pathology in pelycosaurs and dinosaurs, and the techniques used to arrive at "diagnosis"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Feeling pretty good

Yesterday was pretty awesome.

In the morning, we had a couple hours to practice clinical exams on some of the faculty member's dogs. I got to hear a heart murmer on an older lab mix. I found a skritchy spot on a norwitch terrier that made it try to scratch with both legs at the same time, so it just ended up with its butt bouncing on the table. Best of all was when I went to do an exam on a min-pin mix. I walked up to the table it was on, and said hello to the dog. It ran over to me and licked my face, with its little nubbin wagging like crazy. The vet who owned it said "that's really bizarre. He never warms up to new people that quickly!" He then proceeded to growl at all of the other students that approached him, but would then turn around and give me kisses. Win!

In our PBL group, we had to present what we would tell our client about how we would reccommend proceeding with their dog's back/hip problem. We covered getting further, more in-depth imaging, surgically repairing it, and how to manage it medically, if they didn't want to spring for the more expensive option. Turns out that our group nailed it - our fictional client decided to try to manage it medically, with an MRI and surgery as a last resort. And our reccommendations for managing it medically were spot on!

I did screw up a bit yesterday. After our micro/cellular biology class, I forgot that I was supposed to get my 2nd rabies vaccine. I've emailed people, and hopefully I can schedule something to get it done at another time, but I'm kicking myself for spacing it. And it seems like it'd be so easy to space things. We have some things that happen every week no matter what, but things like working at the clinics, or some of our labs are constantly changing, and I'm always worried that I missed an email, or that I didn't copy something down correctly.

Anyway, I'm going to spend the weekend catching up on anatomy and histology. I also still need to buy rubber boots and coveralls for my large animal clinics, and a pair of paddock boots for my equine clinics. I'm also going to see if I can either download "The Girl who Played with Fire," or if I can get caught up enough, see if I can talk Tyler into driving down to Pasadena to see it in the theater.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hard not to be a bit paranoid...

A few days ago, when I was sitting at my front porch, a neighbor stopped by to chat. He mentioned that while I was in class, somebody in a red car had been at my house, and around back (looking for me?) I don't know. He was telling me this in very broken english, so I kind of brushed it off and didn't think anything about it.

Today when I was out front, a car pulled up behind mine, and a guy with long grey hair got out. He said he was with the neighborhood watch, and wanted to know if the name of the park across the street for me was X park. I said yes. He then asked if my landlord was Ms. X. I said yes. Then he snapped a picture of the front of my house, presumably getting Tyler and I in the frame, then drove off. WTF? It was creepy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 2 begins

After a rocky start, I'm almost halfway through week 2.
This week's case is about a medium-large mix breed dog with hip and lower back soreness. Been doing a lot of research not just into hip displasya, but also other musculoskeletal degenerative diseases, and a bajillion other tangentally related subjects.

One thing I've noticed in our 2 PBL cases so far, is that when it gives us the pet's history, the diet information is skewed towards Hills. When the dog presents and its obese, our case tells us that the owner is feeding Ol Roy, but then at the end of the case, they tell us that we suggested Hills r/d, and now the dog's a healthy weight. This week's case has a dog that's a healthy weight, and other than the hip issues, is in good shape. Of course they mention that the dog is eating Hills science diet. Before I enrolled here, I asked a couple people about the corporate involvement, and they insisted that it was very minimal - 2 4 hour shifts at Banfield per semester, and Hills just had their name on a building. They didn't mention the subtle pro-Hills agenda in our cases. Luckily, our curriculim encourages us to seek out reliable, varied sources for each subject - so I fully plan on getting all my nutrition information from as many sources as possible. I'm not one of the pet food nuts, I don't feed BARF, I don't think there's a commercial pet food conspiracy. But I also don't think that commercial interests have a place in higher education, and it feels like there's this subtle pressure on everybody to feel indebted to them, so after we graduate, we all carry their "prescription" diets.

This is embarassing to admit, but I think I should be honest about it, especially if other vet students are reading this blog. The end of last week, Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday were all one big meltdown on my behalf. I'd stress out, thinking I can never learn all this information in a set time, then I'd cry. Then I'd try to pep-talk myself into thinking I could do it, but since I was so stressed out, I wouldn't remember a damn thing. Then I'd cry again. Its been a terrible cycle of feeling stupid, self-doubt, and thinking that I made the biggest mistake ever by coming here. For some reason, today I woke up feeling ok about everything, which is weird, considering that yesterday, I was contemplating the consequences of breaking my lease, getting a moving truck, and returning to Colorado. It has been one giant mind-fuck moodswing. Why am I even admitting to something so embarassing? Because today, when I was going into the anatomy lab after hours, I ran into a classmate. I asked a generic "hey, how're you?", and he looked at me wide-eyed and said "Not good. I don't know if I'm studying too much, or not enough, and I don't know how to handle everything." So I told him what I've been going through, and he really seemed to appreciate that he wasn't the only one. So If you're reading this, and you're a classmate, or if you're reading this years from when it was written, and maybe experiencing something similar, YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE. Nothing to do but plough through it, do your best, and hope it gets better as you acclimate.

I don't spend any time in the clinics this week, but next week, I do 4 hours in Banfield, and the week after, I get to spend 4 hours at Cal Poly with SHEEP!!! I don't know why I'm so excited about that. I don't know a damn thing about sheep, but I know I'm head over heels for goats, and sheep seem like slightly fluffier, less-cute, dumber goats. Its something to look forward to, at least.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Made it through week 1

Sooo... interesting week. We have PBL sessions 3 times a week, where we talk about our case, and come up with learning issues, then we go home and research those issues. For instance, in our case this week (a dog that was limping on its rear leg), we had to look into the radiology of the leg, why his radiograph was different from normal, different diagnostic tests, the pharmacology of certain drugs, the types of surgery to repair his injury, the histology of the joint, and a bunch of other things. I really enjoy that part, because each piece of information you learn has a "why" attached to it, you can put in in context, and you feel like you're making progress.

We also got to spend some time in the Hill's wellness center this week. We learned how to do physical exams, and just covered some very basic clinical skills. So its nice, while being buried under this avalanche of information that you actually get to do some hands-one work, and get a peek at why you're going through this in the first place.

We did have a couple "lectures" throughout the week. We discussed a journal review on cartilage degridation, had a Q&A session where we reviewed the radiology of our case, and talked about a speech our small groups have to get for a class called "Veterinary Issues."

The part that has me in a sheer panic is anatomy (and a little bit histology.) I SUCK at straight memorization. I went in today, and spent an extra 3 hours in the anatomy lab with my group, and they were kind enough to let me basically dissect a whole leg, but I'm having the hardest time remembering the names of the muscles, and the features on the bone. Its had me in tears at multiple points throughout the week, and I've even thought that its not too late to pack up and go home. I've been giving myself pep talks pretty much all week, and forcing myself to work on remembering everything, but I can pretty much guarentee that this will be a thorn in my side for the next 4 years. I need to talk to the school about getting a tutor, or something.

Oh, as far as anatomy goes - I like how the school handles it. Instead of using purpose-bred dogs for dissection, Western only uses donated animals. So each group has a dog of varying size, age, breed and health. We have the opportunity to stumble across some abnormal features due to illness or injury. Its cool. But, they do try to emphasize that these were once pets. Many dogs still have collars on. Ours doesn't, but her name is written on her ID tag. Its a bit unsettling, but I suppose it would be more unsettling if they tried to completely erase her history.

Anyway, that's week 1. PBL has an amazing way of highlighting just how much you don't know, but its also rewarding when you make big dents, and convert it to what you do know. There's so much information being thrown your way, and the schedule changes on you, and keeps you in this constant state of not knowing what to expect, or what's going on.

I've decided to study until Tyler wakes up (lucky bastard gets to sleep in today,) and then do something fun, just the two of us - I feel like I've been ignoring and neglecting him all week. Then I'll spend Sunday studying, and playing catch-up so I can start Week 2 on the right foot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

First "real" day of vet school

So today, we had our first real PBL case. The way it works, is you're presented with a case, just a little information at a time, and you have to identify what issues you don't know about within the case. You then request diagnostic testing, and get back more information. Each case is spread out over a week (PBL groups Monday, Wednesday and Friday,) and then labs and clinical stuff happens during the rest of the week.

I don't know how much information I can post about the cases, since it sounds like some of them get re-used. I want people considering Western to get an insight into the PBL process, but I don't want somebody to dig up my blog in a few years and know what each case is looking for exactly, so in the interest of academic honesty, I'll keep them very vague.

Today's case involves an overweight, geriatric dog that comes in with a limp. So within this case, we have to identify what the "Learning issues" are. For example, just from what we got today, we need to learn the anatomy of the hind limb, the range of motion (what is normal, and what is abnormal,) how to do an exam of the legs, how to read a radiograph of the stifle, and then there's a nutrition componant (since the dog's obese and the owner is feeding it Ol' Roy,) and a parasitology componant (he's an outdoor dog, so information on the lifecycle of fleas, and common diseases that use fleas as a vector.) Some of this information is broken up and researched seperately within our group, but most of it we each need to find and learn on our own, whether through textbooks, journal articles, websites (no, I'm not going to wiki my way through school), or podcasts. Remember, no lectures, we are responsible for aquiring and learning the information on our own.

After our PBL session, I got my first rabies shot, then ran to the bookstore and bought some anatomy and radiology books. After the walk from the bookstore to my car carrying my laptop and three large textbooks, my arm that I got the vaccine in is really sore. Luckily, the next two shots of the series happen on a friday, so if there's any effects, I should have a weekend to sleep them off. And that pile of books? Between it and my backpack, the stack on my passeger seat coming home was heavy enough to make my car think it was a passenger.

Tomorrow we have our first anatomy lab, and Thursday I'll be in the clinic for the first time. I'm going to go see about buying some furniture we haven't gotten yet, and then I imagine the rest of my afternoon is going to keep me with my nose buried in books.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last couple days of orientation

Thursday brought another day of rah-rah teambuilding, forced dancing, and more free food. I already ranted enough about wednesday, so I don't need to anymore. I was a bit jealous when I found out that some classmates had been smart enough to play sick through the whole thing.

Friday started with university orientation - us, the dental, pharmacy, PT and master's students were all herded into a room where we sat through various presentations that applied to the whole school for a few hours.

We then had lunch with our big sibs. They gave us all boxes of goodies - a water bottle with the school's name (and purina's) on it, an ethicon kit for practicing tying sutures, an AVMA squishy donkey, and some other loot.

Lunch was followed by another practice PBL session, and we wrapped up the week.

Saturday I woke up early, picked up dad from his hotel, realized I left the tickets for the ceremonies at home, went back up to our house, grabbed tickets, waited in line to park at the convention center, then realized that dad's hotel was only 2 blocks away from the convention center. We were late, so we missed the beginning of the ceremony, but didn't really miss much. Sat through a bunch of speeches, then headed across town to the white coat ceremony.

The white coat ceremony is basically a ceremonial entrance into the profession. It stresses the importance of education, compassion, and the trust placed on you as a health professional. Each student walks across the stage, where a faculty member helps them into their white clinical jacket. After everybody is wearing their white coat, they recite a pledge to basically be the best student they can be. Pictures followed, then we went to the campus to get some bbq.

Tomorrow, I get to hang out in LA with dad, and prepare for Monday, when actual classes start.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Leadership Training," Day One.

So today, the third day of orientation, focused on "leadership training." Instead of wearing business casual, like we've been instructed to do for orientation, we were all supposed to wear our matching teal "DVM 2014" shirts.

For those of you who know me, you can probably see where this is headed: a very unhappy Karin. To be fair, I know I'm starting a new program, and I know I need to not make a shitty first impression, so I did participate, but I definitely was pretty grouchy about the whole thing all day.

I showed up wearing business casual - just in case a decent sized minority decided not to wear their class t-shirts. Unfortunately, everybody did, so I quickly threw my shirt over what I was wearing. Usually, I wouldn't have a problem being the one sticking out like a sore thumb, but first impressions and all, I figured I should cave.

After a welcome speech from the Dean of the college, we were herded back into the same room as the previous days. We were then greeted by a guest speaker from WSU, who runs these "Veterinary Leadership Experience" camps. So yes, he's associated with a school, and he's a DVM, but he's also got that cheeseball professional "inspirational speaker" vibe to him.

So its not going too badly - cheezy powerpoint lectures with "funny" (yes, that's in quotes for a reason) pictures and videos, and lots of talks on personal responsibility, self actualization, how preconceived notions color your perceptions, and responsible leadership. Nothing too bad.

Untill he throws on some terrible music, makes everybody stand up, and start doing some coordinated line dance. It occurs to me at this point, that I can just leave, and go back to Colorado. If it had been at an undergrad college, I probably would have. However, since at this point, this is what I want more than anything, I decide that since I already made it this far, I might as well be a sheeple and join. Yes, I died a little inside.

Then we break up into small groups, and go outside. We form a circle, and have to play a "get to know you" game with a rope, and going around the circle answering questions about ourselves. I'm pretty burnt out on this whole thing by now, and its not even lunchtime.

For lunch, we're packed onto yellow school busses, and shipped to a hotel conference room, where we're fed banquet food provided by the California Veterinary Medical Association. After a free lunch, and a talk about the CVMA, and its insurance arm, we're given dog food scoops, and pens bearing the name of the insurance company.

We're shipped back to the school, more dancing insues, there's a speech about imposter syndrome (which is actually a pretty interesting subject I've read tons about) was touched on, then more leadership crap, and meyer's briggs personality tests were touched on.

Outside again to do a "teamwork exercise," that is just like this computer game, only with us standing on paper plates, and we had to use teamwork to solve it. Whee! Can you just hear the fun meters going off? Seriously, at this point, I'm wishing that cyanide capsules were part of the required school supplies.

Inside again more more pop psychology brainwashing. Out again for another game (where people have to form a circle, and play a bizarre form of tag where groups of three have to act out animals.) This was supposed to teach us empathy for the person who was "it." Apparently, we were supposed to feel bad they were "it." I didn't. I was insanely glad that somebody other than me was "it," and was using my best "fuck off and die" vibes to keep anybody from tagging me while yelling "ELEPHANT!"

Back inside one last time to hear the Hills rep say something to our class, and try to buy our loyalty with free backpacks and planners.

Ok, this is a bitchy and cynical post. Anytime something is billed to be "fun" when its not actually fun, I'm going to be annoyed. Especially if said activities are pretty much forced down your throat. Last time I checked, I was entering proffessional school, not elementary school. Enough with the juvinile games. And I get annoyed when information that could be delivered in a couple articles that could be read in less than an hour, is stretched out over 8 hours, then made worse by forced "fun."

And I've complained already about how we're given so much stuff from all these different companies (and I'm only 3 days in and haven't officially started classes). Its worth checking out the No Free Lunch website. Its geared towards how all the free stuff piled on med students influences their decisions as a physician, but there's no reason why the same wouldn't hold true for dogfood companies and vet students. Basically, when you're given something for free, like a pen, or lunch, or whatever, it makes you feel indebted towards x company. Then when you're practicing, instead of looking for the company or product that's most appropriate, you tend to lean towards the one you feel indebted to. No free lunch advocates turning down all freebies to avoid this. I figure, that just saves the companies money on students that won't be profitable for them later, since they're resisting the manipulation. My plan is to cost them money in freebies, then as a practitioner, ignore the hype and do the right thing. Maybe by taking their stuff from them (and then re-homing it,) it will raise the costs of "buying" students, and hit them in their wallets. Like that hills laptop backpack I got today? Its going to goodwill, or a school supply drive.

Anyway, tomorrow's another 10 hour day of leadership/teamwork bullshit, and then back to more informational, less "inspirational" stuff. After today, I really can't wait for classes to start - I'm done with orientation. And when classes get bad, I can always think "well, I'm completely overwhelmed with what I have to learn, and I always feel like I'm behind, but at least they're not coercing me into dancing again."

And just an image to sum up how I feel about today:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vet school orientation

I just finished day 2 of vet school orientation.

Day 1, we showed up, picked up our orientation packets, which included our parking passes and white coat ceremony tickets. Then we had to go through several stations, which included ironing out any admissions issues, setting up our laptops (basically setting up our email clients to get the pop3 western mail,) and photos. The photos were funny. Basically, we took one for our IDs, and then they through a gown/robe on us, then had us take our graduation pictures. Taking my grad pictures before classes even started cracked me up a bit. I also picked up my white coat and nametag, and got a "Western U CVM 2014" t-shirt.

After that, we sat through a series of introductions, had Chipoltle brought in by Purina (They apparently try to start buying our loyalty early,) then 3 more hours of speeches of what to expect.

Day 2, they had the financial aid office talk to us, then talked about the cirriculum for awhile. Then Schering-Plough supplied pizza (once again - jumping in early to buy our loyalty), then we did a practice PBL session about a dog brought in for a wellness check, more lectures about the school, then an "expert meeting," where we circulated around and met with different faculty, talked about their areas of expertise, and they reccommended which books they prefer.

There are some things that are a little disorienting about the way Western's set up. They don't have any required books - they just tell you to test books out from the library, then only buy the ones you like. I did, however, enjoy the practice PBL session. Its going to be hard for the next 4 years, but it'd be hard at any school - at least this way I don't have to sit through lectures.

We got a list of required supplies, which I suppose I should start trying to accumulate - surgical tools, stethescope, scrubs, coveralls, boots, otoscope, and a couple other things.

We also got our schedule. It looks like mondays we'll be in class in the morning, then have the afternoons off. Tuesdays and thursdays have us in clinics in the mornings, then in the lab in the evenings. Wednesdays and Fridays are more classes. I'll probably scan my copy of my schedule later in the week.

Tomorrow and thursday sound pretty unpleasant. The schedule says "leadership training," but the 2013 students make it sound like forced teambuilding. Nobody will tell us what it involves, just to wear comfy clothes that we won't mind getting dirty. Now, I'm sure some people like the teambuilding crap - but I'm not one of them. Hopefully its not too bad, and hopefully its over soon. I think one of the days is almost 12 hours. I'm definitely to the point to where I'll be happy when this week is over, and real classes start.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Can't Sleep

Orientation starts tomorrow. Its 12:30, and I should probably be asleep right now, but I'm more nervous than tired. I wish the tired would kick in. I've got butterflies in my stomach, but I am so excited. In 7 1/2 hours I will officially be a vet student!