Back with a Vegence

I said I would be back!

So, here I am, the night before orientation. Unfortunately, I have to repeat the long hours of orientation (although I’m not quite sure why). Just like last year, we will have 1 day of orientation followed by 2 days of the Florida Learning Experience (summer camp! Vet school style), a rest day, and a club fair day. Classes start in a week! This fall schedule, in my opinion, is a lot nicer than last year in regards to exam schedules so I’m very happy about that! I already know some of my new classmates, and I’m excited to meet the rest of the vet school family that will help maintain sanity for the next 4 years.

I absolutely love the support I receive through UF CVM; I have no complaints.However, completing my medical withdraw was an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE. The red tape and bureaucracy at the university level was insane. Which to me was very disappointing–the people going through a medical withdraw obviously are having problems and deserve support. Instead, the process became a source of much anxiety and frustration.
The first issue with the process is that it is designed for undergraduate students. In order to complete my retroactive withdraw, I had to get a letter from every single professor/course coordinator for each one of my classes. Well, UF CVM doesn’t operate on a regular semester schedule, we have block schedules. I was expected to go to my veterinary molecular biology professor, who I only had the first 3 weeks into the semester, and divulge the ugly details of why I am undergoing a medical withdraw and ask for his blessing; even though I passed the class. Do this x8 for the amount of classes we take. Absolutely ridiculous. Nonetheless, there was a deadline attached to when the letters had to be submitted in order to qualify for the tuition refund.

Furthermore, I constantly received conflicting information regarding deadlines and proper paperwork. I am a dual DVM/MPH student and planned on taking masters courses this summer: unfortunately, even though the university had on record that I was in the process of a medical withdraw, my account showed a balance of over $7,000 for the classes I withdrew. My only option if I wanted to continue was to pay the University the balance while I waited for my medical withdraw to be approved, only to have them refund it back to me. Unfortunately, I don’t have 7 grand laying around, so I could not take the courses. Which meant that I couldn’t take out student loans to help support myself over the summer. This all came with great timing, as I had just racked up my credit line for an emergency dental procedure when I was in so much pain I couldn’t eat. Game on, poverty!

Luckily, I had no problem finding jobs. I ended up quitting the clinic I was hired at that I mentioned in a previous post to go be a bartender at World of Beer (why not?). Now I work at a veterinary clinic that I absolutely love.

The medical withdraw was eventually finally accepted… at the end of July (apparently, even though I delivered my letters in person and made it very clear my file was ready to be reviewed by the committee, the message never went through and I found out a month later after I called to get an update that my file was never put on the agenda to be reviewed. Awesome!). I was proudly informed that the tuition refund and re-admission would take 6-8 weeks to process! Which wouldn’t be a problem except my program started in 4 weeks. Another battle. I had the Dean of Students Office email me the approval letter which I hand delivered to the Bursars and Registrars office to try to expedite the process. I still haven’t registered and my re-admittance hasn’t gone through… which is cool because my classes start next week. Luckily, the Office of Students and Instruction at UF CVM assured me they can twist some arms if it is not done in a timely manner. Go team.

This long rant about my experience is leading up to me saying that the process needs to change. Especially for professional programs that don’t abide by the university calendar. I have hopes to appeal to the student government once they are back in session to call for reform. Hopefully I can get some good out of this.

The most important thing is: I am here and I am not letting the past get in the way of vet school. I’m excited to start so I can start kicking some academic ass!

Anyway, here are some pictures of my adorable lil dingo puppy. She was dumped at my job with the mobile clinic up in Tallahassee. I picked up the poor little thing and knew instantly she was mine. Her name is Anya!

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NOMS STICK
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Anya and one of her friends, Zach. Our neighbor
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She loves the cats; the feeling isn’t mutual
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Dingo-ing around on the ground
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Before/After. HOW COULD SOMEONE GIVE THIS BABY UP??
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Behold, my dingo and my wonderful boyfriend who puts up with my shenanigans

Stay tuned for more,

Megan M

 

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When it’s time to step back

I have been the worst blogger, this is a post I’ve been somewhat reluctant to write.

I documented some of my problems last semester in previous posts, from my messed up leg to my ovarian cyst rupture. My goal, my intention, was to completely power through the rest of the semester. However, it was much more than just my medical status (although I was essentially bed-ridden for a week and a half during finals week… not helpful), I also had quite a bit of personal issues with certain immediate family members that drew my attention very far away than my studies. I was offered a medical withdraw while this was happening and I declined… it was November and the end of the semester felt so close. I struggled to pass the rest of my classes, and in the end I barely scraped by (surprisingly, I didn’t fail any classes, but I didn’t get the grades I could have).

I started the spring semester still somewhat exhausted from the fall. I struggled to stay focused and still had some family problems. A few weeks into the semester my apartment was broken into and that really spiked my stress levels. I decided to have a meeting with the dean and I was offered the medical withdraw for both semesters. The medical withdraw will make me eligible to have my tuition reimbursed and my vet school GPA will reset. How many times in your life are you offered a redo button? So, I decided to take it.

So, I am in the process of withdrawing from veterinary school. I will be re-enrolling this fall in the class of 2020. I’m really going to miss all of the friends I made in the class of 2019, but so far I am incredibly happy that I made this decision. It was hard to make. However, veterinary school is expensive. I come here not to make a grade but to learn to be the best doctor I can be. The situation I am under did not make it conducive for me to get the most out of my education. So, I am taking a step back.

This is the part where I brag about how lucky I am to be a student at the UF CVM. The outpouring of support has been incredible between my classmates, my professors, faculty and staff. They treat me like family, and that is exactly what it feels like. I couldn’t imagine having a more supportive group of people around me. I will forever be grateful to everyone at the UF CVM for doing everything they can to help me during this time.

So, what am I doing with my life? I now have an adorable puppy (which I did not intend to acquire but you know how it goes, she’s a rescue), a new job at a very busy clinic, and all in all I am taking this time to ground out, get my affairs in order, and restart veterinary school with an eased body and mind and ready to kick some academic ass.

So, there it is folks. This blog is absolutely going to continue, just be mindful that it will be taking a detour until August : )

Signed,
Megan M

Murphy’s Law

Last I left off, I was about to start off a week filled with finals that started with Immunology & Hematology on Monday, Anatomy on Thursday and Ophthalmology on Friday. I jokingly said something along the lines of hoping I survived; unknown to me that may have been a foreshadowing of how that week would go!

On Sunday, while studying on campus, I ended up having a TERRIBLE pain in my left flank that felt like someone had just stabbed me. The pain made me so nauseous that I ended up vomiting and staying up all night (I convinced myself out of going to the ER about 3 times). I missed my exam, and finally got to a doctor that Tuesday with the diagnosis of having experienced an ovarian cyst rupture. I was pretty much incapacitated for a week and missed all of the finals. Furthermore, I had a family emergency and my dog passed away the same week. I ended up having some slight trauma to my side that prolonged my recovery and the pain for about another week. To top it off, my kitten had a horrible suture reaction at her spay site that ended up having to be seen by the fine doctors at the UF CVM Emergency Department. Thankfully I had one win there–I had originally thought she had a hernia and was pleasantly surprised that it was just severe inflammation from a suture reaction. She is doing a lot better now.

November has never been a good month for me. Fortunately, I got in touch with the dean of students at the vet school and they have been incredibly accommodating to my situation. I did consider a medical withdraw, but I am so close to the end of the semester, I’m doing my best to try to power through. I made up my anatomy and ophthalmology finals last week and will be making up immunology & hematology after I come back from Thanksgiving break.

So, a pretty depressing update. Sorry guys. I am thankful, however, that I ended up not needing surgery (after they rupture there’s not too much you can do but sit and wait it out) and that my kitten is doing okay. I’m waiting on my grades for my make-up finals and just hoping that the rest of the semester can pass without any more insane scenarios.

Until next time!

Signed,

Megan M

11 weeks into first year

Hi there!

I’ve been slacking on my posts! This one is going to have a lot of pictures though, so yay!

So much has happened in this past month. I finished my endocrinology and animal behavior courses and had a small animal anatomy practical and exam. I also jumped off the football stadium, presented vet med for career day at a middle school, and of course there was Halloween. It also may be true I’m using this new post to procrastinate… next week I have final exams in immunology & hematology, small animal anatomy, and ophthalmology. The week after that I start Neurology and Parasitology! The fun never ends!!

To start, I had mentioned in a previous post that I was participating in a repelling wet lab as a part of the Public Health and Service Club and UF’s Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service (VETS). VETS is a very cool organization at UF that responds to any animal emergencies/natural disasters to aide in veterinary service and animal rescue. In the repelling wet lab, participants got to climb over the side of the stadium and repel down to the ground. It was an awesome adrenalin rush the day before our endocrinology final!

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Over the edge I go!
Over the edge I go!

Ironically enough, the man closest to the camera in that last picture was my endocrinology histology professor. He was jokingly drilling us as we were going over: “what hormones are being excreted by what gland? What portion of your adrenals is synthesizing the epinephrine?” It was a lot of good fun.

I also had the pleasure of presenting veterinary medicine to 8th graders at a local middle school. I went with another 1st year and I brought along my snake, Vladimir, for the kids to play with. Vlad was a huge hit! The best part was while I was exploring the other booths while holding Vlad, I started talking to 2 guys who teach karate. One, who was wearing a black belt, once he realized I had a snake, bolted off running!! His partner laughed at him and said “man he just turned into such a girl” and then turned bright red and apologized as I gave him -that look-. I laughed, it’s a girl who owns the snake! The kids loved it! They were all so respectful, interested, and the ones who were scared of Vlad all ended up holding him and saying “I want one!” A couple of kids even gave me a hug out of appreciation. It is so satisfying seeing kids get excited about this awesome profession and animals!!

Behind the table is myself and another 1st year who came with me, in front was a 2nd year who took over when we had to leave for anatomy lab with her beautiful GSD!
Behind the table is myself and another 1st year who came with me, in front was a 2nd year who took over when we had to leave for anatomy lab with her beautiful GSD!
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How can you be afraid of my cutie Vladimir? (yes, he lives in a tank that looks like Bikini Bottom)

For Halloween, the class of 2019 decided to dress to the theme “Cats and Crazy Cat Ladies”. It was outrageously hilarious. All of the guys in our class ended up dressing as crazy cat ladies, and all of the girls in our class looked super cute as cats……. and then there was me:

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a lot of us participated and it was great

Finally, I’ll give you guys a look as to what we’ve been doing in clinical skills: “practice” venipuncture on specialized dog and horse mannequins, bandaging, and large animal signals of pain.

What tube has what additive? What does it do to the blood components? What is the method of aseptic transfer into multiple tubes without contaminating them with additive? What tube would you submit for certain immunological tests? Endocrine tests?
What tube has what additive? What does it do to the blood components? What is the method of aseptic transfer into multiple tubes without contaminating them with additive? What tube would you submit for certain immunological tests? Endocrine tests? Do you already know the answers?
Thanks for tending my fake wound Katie!
Thanks for tending my fake wound Katie!
Sorry Adam, we recommend euthanasia. (Just kidding! Maybe)
Sorry Adam, we recommend euthanasia. (Just kidding! [Maybe])
Adam's amazing nap chair is amazing for naps during lunch between classes.
Adam’s amazing nap chair is perfect for naps during lunch between classes.
Sometimes I skip morning classes......
Sometimes I skip morning classes……
Sometimes I forget to bring a fork for my ramen and resort to using knives as chopsticks...
Sometimes I forget to bring a fork for my ramen and resort to using knives as chopsticks…

Also, an update on my 3 legged kitten, today I was able to scrub in on her spay and this time she didn’t try to die like she did after her amputation. Way to go, Vivian!

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And that, my friends, are the updates I have for you currently. I will update you if I survive exam hell week next week and let you know all about the many adventures to come. In 2 weeks I’m a judge for a science fair at a magnet high school and going to my alma mater’s, University of Central Florida, pre-vet society with some of my classmates to present tips on getting in and what it’s like to be a first year vet student. I am also attending an advanced 2-day training course for FEMA with the VETS team on complicated animal rescues, doing my small animal rotation in our beautiful small animal hospital, and making my second visit with my interdisciplinary family health patient, Rose (a human!). I still need to write about that program. STAY TUNED!

Sincerely,

Megan M.

“You want to do what in veterinary medicine?”

Whenever I meet someone new and the conversation gets started about being in veterinary school, the usual response is “oh that’s so cool! Do you want to do small animal or large animal?”

I have a very complicated answer to this question. It’s a mix between both and neither. I am studying to not only have a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, but also a Master’s in Public Health. “Oh… so, what do you do with that?”

My answer is, what can’t I do?

There is currently a very important movement happening in medicine, and it is the concept of “One Health.” Never heard of it? the AVMA provides the definition as such:

“One Health is the integrative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment. Together, the three make up the One Health triad, and the health of each is inextricably connected to the others in the triad. Understanding and addressing the health issues created at this intersection is the foundation for the concept of One Health.”

This movement aims to promote integrative efforts of multiple disciplines of medicine to reach a common goal: human health, animal health, and environmental health. This is all connected. Also involved in the movement are healthcare administrators, healthcare policy makers and enforcers, environmental science specialists, economists with understanding of global trade, and law makers. The scope is large, but with the growing clinical specializations in both human and veterinary medicine, it is easy to lose sight of the many factors that play into the overall health of a population.

It is usually about this time I receive a blank stare and I ponder whether or not the person I’m talking to regrets ever asking the question. I can get a little over-passionate, haha.

I have a strong interest in politics (always have), epidemiology, determinants of health status, veterinary medicine, and infectious disease. So, why settle for one when I have a field wide open for me to have the credentials to work in any of these fields? Hence, why I decided it would be worth it to take even more classes and pay a substantial more for a master’s on top of my DVM. Usually, when I get the question of why I’m getting an MPH too, my short answer is “I just really love being in debt.” (haha)

The truth is, I enjoy my MPH coursework and the avenues it opens up for me. The curriculum is scheduled to not overload me; I take the majority of my MPH classes online during summers that I don’t have DVM classes. I am required to attend a few seminars (that I can choose from) that take place often at the University of Florida within the College of Public Health and Health Professions. I am required to complete an internship before I graduate (many of those who have done this dual degree program before me have interned with state health departments, the CDC, or at the county level in health departments). To top it off, many of my veterinary courses apply towards my MPH.

The summer before I matriculated into my DVM courses, I completed 4 of my MPH classes. One of those classes was Public Health Disaster Preparedness which required the completion of various FEMA courses that now allow me to be on UF’s Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service that responds to animal rescue emergencies all over the state. Just a couple of weeks ago I participated in a wet lab on how to set up and safely use equipment in the event of rescuing a horse from a sinkhole! Next month I will be participating in a two day weekend FEMA course on campus to become certified for advanced rescue procedures (which I am able to do because I’ve completed the other FEMA pre-requisites, yay!). I’m also going to be rappelling across the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the VETS team, and participating in a water rescue wet lab. TELL ME THAT’S NOT AWESOME??

So, my real answer is: I’m not exactly sure what I want to do, yet, but I know it will be in public health. A dream job would be to work for the AVMA as an advocate for the veterinary profession and One Health efforts, the Public Health Service (a uniformed but unarmed portion of the military service), and to spend two years as a part of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (have you seen the movie contagion? They based it off of the EIS). I want to be one of those people who works with very scary disease in the midst of an outbreak. Whether that be on the ground, epidemiological studies, or research remains to be seen. Hopefully I can do all of the things!

For more information on OneHealth and the One Health Commission, visit this site!: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/One-Health-How-was-the-One-Health-Commission-Formed.aspx

For more information on the EIS, visit this site!: http://www.cdc.gov/eis/

To get super excited about veterinarians and other healthcare professionals in the EIS, read this book! It changed my whole outlook on my career!: BBTD

For an hilariously true article about zombies and veterinarians, visit these sites!:
https://www.avma.org/public/Health/Pages/you-want-a-veterinarian-on-your-team-in-a-zombie-apocalypse.aspx
http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm

For any other information ever, shoot me a message or leave a comment!

Signed,

Megan M

38 Days into First Year

I’m so torn from responding to the fact that it has been 38 days since my first day of class between a sighful “it’s only been 38 days?” and “I cannot believe it has already been that long.

Today is Monday and my class just completed was is commonly referred to as the worst class of first year: Veterinary Molecular Biology. I was pretty excited about the class, to be honest. My degree is Micro & Molecular Biology, I’ve taken at least 5 or 6 related classes. I’ve got this one in the bag! Lololol– I defintely could have if I didn’t pend the majority of a week recovering from back to back exams in anatomy & microanatomy and then another week preparing for my anatomy quiz on Friday. Before I knew it, Molec’s final was here! What also certainly didn’t help was somehow spraining my ankle late last week. The pain meds are just enough to allow me to function but keep me loopy enough to have a really hard time focusing. I found myself actually poking my hand with a pencil during the exam just to try to stay awake and focused. That was definitely the worst test experience I have had so far here. Now we play the sit-and-wait for grades to come out game. Oh, the horror.

After limping back to the vet school from our testing facility I did have the pleasure of participating in a photoshoot to show off UF CVM’s brand new clinical skills lab. It’s pretty beautiful.

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Large open area for clinic simulations/labs
examination rooms with models
Examination rooms with models
Large animal simulation area
Large animal simulation area
Horse model for fluid therapy and IV catheter placement
Horse model for fluid therapy and IV catheter placement
Me, practicing physcial examinations on live dogs!
Me, practicing physcial examinations on live dogs!

We are very lucky to be the first class to get to use this facility. I have a lot of clinical experience and still feel as though I am getting a lot out of it so far, can’t wait to learn more. This is also a very unique part of the UF CVM curriculum, as most vet schools won’t schedule you to touch a live animal until 3rd year or 4th year clinicals. We start our clinicals early, do a small and large animal rotation the first semester, and have this nifty lab to learn get used to clinic situations before we are thrown into clinicals (including animal restraint, technical skills, physical exams, cursory diagnostic equiptment, client communication, working the veterinary practice management software). How great is that? Last week my group and I practiced small animal restraint, the week before we worked with horses on basic handling and restraint. This week we are practicing performing full examinations and vitals on horses and next week back to small animal. It’s a nice break from the anatomy lab and sitting in lecture.

Luckily I think I have a whole week and a half before my next examinations, which means I have time to visit my “adopted” school blood donor mare and get caught up with endocrinology, immunology & hematology.

Next addition: Veterinary Students joining the “Interdisciplinary Family Health” program for graduate students in health at the University of Florida. Stay tuned!

Signed,
Megan M

My first month as a vet student

It has been officially one month since starting veterinary school. So, let’s start from the beginning.

Before starting classes, UF CVM hosted a two day orientation which consisted of general orientation shenanigans: safety talks, academic integrity lectures, visits from professional organizations such as the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, and taking our portraits to be displayed in the halls of the animal hospital for years to come. The faculty was introduced and everyone was incredibly welcoming. The following Monday and Tuesday, my class was invited to a nearby YMCA for a two day “Freshman Leadership Experience.” At first, to be honest, I thought that it would be two days of cheesy leadership exercises and forceful team bonding and I wasn’t too thrilled to spend two whole days reliving my elementary summer camp days (also, in my defense, I had just returned from a mini-vacation to New Orleans, and what can possibly top that?). Fortunately, my predictions were entirely correct, and I honestly had a wonderful time. I got to know my classmates (who are awesome, I only have great things to say about the rest of my class) and had some great speakers. By the end of the 4 day orientation experience, it is safe to say that I was pretty geared up to start school the following Thursday. The day before, they had scheduled us a rest day to prepare for starting classes after FLE (while others were resting, I attended my mandatory is MPH orientation, I was a very busy bee that week). Thursday classes started.

As far as classes go, I am sure that most pre-veterinary students have heard the course load is heavy. You heard right! This semester, in a staggered schedule, I am taking Interdisciplinary Family Health (I’ll post with more information on this program later), microanatomy (histology & embryology), veterinary molecular biology, small animal gross anatomy, Animal Systems 1 (includes: endocrinology, immunology & hematology, opthalmology, and neurobiology), parasitology, animal behavior, and clinical skills. I am scheduled for gross animal anatomy M-F and regularly spend extra time in the lab studying. So far, I have already completed my microanatomy class (histo&embryo) which had 4 parts to the final: a written embryology portion, a written histology portion, as well as a practical portion for each subject. This week I started endocrinology, immunology &hematology. I heard a very fair analogy last week comparing the amount of information you are expected to learn to the amount of water coming out of a garden hose…

During undergrad, your garden hose is on a low setting and you’re just trying to get as much as you can while balancing other things…
In vet school, that hose is actually fire hose on full power and you’re struggling to withstand the amount of information coming at you. Yeah. I’d say that is how vet school feels to me so far.
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I’m finding the adjustment from undergraduate to veterinary school to be quite difficult. I come from a strange way of life in the fact that during my undergraduate career, I booked up a lot of my time working (as a veterinary technician). I loved my job, I loved working with animals, I loved the medicine, and I used my job as my “escape” from the perils of academia. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love learning, but the didactic method of teaching is barely stimulating for me. In a way, working kept me sane enough to successfully complete my undergrad. It was my stress relief. Now, I am a full time student with no job struggling to find time to turn off the stress. I am the second dog, 110%.

I admit this in a long-winded way to say the habits that you develop in undergrad WILL stay with you in graduate school. I think that my transition is more difficult because my coping mechanisms for stress in undergrad were unsustainable for veterinary school, now I am struggling to balance it all. I’ll get it, and I will end up fine, but man this is something that I wish I could have conveyed to past Megan.

Luckily, I have a great set of family and friends reminding me that I am here for good reason that are maintaining my sanity. The support of faculty and staff is also great. Not to mention my wonderful fur babies who give me much needed cuddles on a daily basis.

I have learned so much in the past month and completed (and passed!) my first course. Here’s to many more to come!

 

Signed, Megan M