Sunday, May 6, 2012

Time flies!

Wow! This year certainly flew by! I'm sorry for not updating at all, but I've been so busy this year! Let me update you now with some highlights from throughout the year.

I began my final year rotations on ICU nights, which was actually a fantastic way to start the year. In our tired state our group saw each other at our worst, and survived the test, and actually I think this was one of the best weeks. Sure it was tiring, but our group really bonded.

ICU days quickly followed, and although there wasn't a huge amount going on, we had a lot of tutorials that were really useful (and I still remember now, which is always a good sign!). Despite our having to fight to stay awake during them (going straight from night shifts to day shifts is exhausting!), we really enjoyed the week.

And, I just realised I can't possibly go through every single rotation, but suffice it to say that this year has been amazing. I even really enjoyed working in the equine and farm animal hospitals, and got to see some fun cases.

My favourite week was probably Small Animal Internal Medicine. I loved that week because it was so very relevant to my future career, and I learned a ton, and got to the point where I actually feel like I knew what I was doing.

I also loved Farm Practice (I know, who would have thought I'd have ever said that?!) because it was something so completely different than anything I'd done before. I got to go out to farms with the other students and the farm vets, and do surgeries out in the field. Farm medicine seems a lot more straightforward to me. Whereas in small animal you often rely on countless tests and diagnostics to determine a course of action, on farm you have to go with your instincts and just do what's necessary. So I enjoyed it because of that aspect. I still don't think I particularly want to be a farm vet (I don't really like being dirty and smelling like cows), but I also feel like I am capable of being one, which is good, as I suppose given limited job prospects around this area I might have to take a mixed animal job!

Anyway, here are some pictures from my Final Year!
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3-layer Red Velvet cake with Raspberry filling and dark chocolate frosting! (Recipe Here)
 I know, weird that I start off with cake, but at R(D)SVS there is a final year tradition called 'Cake Friday' on which every Friday someone in each rotation group makes cake or cookies or something else yummy. This was both delicious and incredibly horrible for my waistline, and I am (I can't believe I'm saying this) looking forward to NOT having cake thrust in front of my face every week. However, during this year I have contributed to many a Cake Friday, and have made some pretty awesome cakes, so I've included a few of my favourites!
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 Another successful Cake Friday! Vanilla sponge cake with Strawberry jam and Vanilla bean icing!
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A cute chinchilla I saw during our week on Exotics! I loved this week, mostly because some of my favourite staff members are on this week. I was really looking forward to working with lots of exotic species. Sadly, we only really saw rabbits and this one chinchilla, but it was still a fun week. Truthfully, it was probably more relevant to small animal practice than if we had seen lots of other crazy lizards and things because rabbits in gut stasis is probably one of the more common thing you'll see in practice, as rabbit's seem to be rather poorly designed and things go wrong rather often (much like with horses and colic!)
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 A cute foal during our week on the Equine hospital! Despite not really loving horses so much, I actually really enjoyed the equine hospital as well. It was very different to the small animal hospital, and I felt like we didn't get to do quite as much in relation to communicating with clients and doing full physical exams and things, I did learn a lot about how to handle the common problems I would see if I were to ever get called out to a horse, and I actually feel like I could pretty confidently deal with most run-of-the-mill problems horses get like simple colic and lameness issues.
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 A (less yummy) but more creative Cake Friday creation. Chocolate and Vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow sheep and horses! This took a LONG time, let me tell you, and I think I prefer cake on  the whole because I'm not so into frosting, but I was pretty impressed with my marshmallow animal skills.
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 My awesome amazing group - The A Team - during our week on Equine Hospital
L-R: Graham, Me, Emma, Bobby
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 Possibly my best Cake Friday cake. It didn't really look as nice as the others, but it was the best cheesecake I've ever had, and I think I converted a few non-cheesecake lovers as well. I may have made it three times (it was just that good!)...
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Sadly I couldn't take many pictures this year of animals and our activities during uni (client confidentiality and all), but we definitely had a blast. Sure, at times it's nerve-wracking being asked questions you really don't know the answer to, and you feel like you have to study ALL the time, it has been remarkably stress-free. I figure, this is what vet school was all about; this is the year that I've worked up to since I was a little girl, and what's the point of doing it if you're going to worry and stress about it? So I just tried to have as much fun as possible, and (maybe if I'm lucky) pick up some information on the way! Fortunately the rest of my group thought much the same way, and I think that's why we got along so well, and why we were nominated for "Best Rotation Group" by the staff (we lost out to some rugby boys, boo! but we know we were better than them anyway!). I have enjoyed working with my group so much, they have become some of my best friends here in Edinburgh.

Sadly, The A Team was split up in the last rotation because of the numbers involved, but fortunately Graham and I still ended up in the same group for the last 3 weeks. Our new group was really fun too, and I enjoyed getting to know some new people better, whom, frankly, I wish I had gotten to know earlier. Hopefully we'll all keep in touch when this is all over.

Tip for any future final year vet students: ENJOY YOUR FINAL YEAR. Seriously. This is the time you've been waiting for, so what's the point in going through it constantly stressed out! I will tell you now that you will know more than you think you know, just by going and paying attention. For example: at the Dick Vet we had a short exam every month after each rotation block, and I did not study for any of them. Not one. Instead, I payed attention during the week. I asked questions and I discussed cases and treatments with my group, and if we didn't know the answer, we went home and looked it up. And I consistently passed every single one of them. So don't sweat it. Final year is awesome!

Another tip: LOVE YOUR ROTATION GROUP! If you can't stand them, switch, before it's too late. I cannot tell you how important it is for you to get along. Clinicians see when you don't get along, and it will make your year much less fun if you're constantly wanting to punch one of your team members in the face.

Last tip, I promise: IT IS NOT A COMPETITION! Especially not with your final year group. You are there to support one another, and the better you work to make sure everyone gets a shot at doing everything, the more fun your year will be. Trust me, you will make no friends if you constantly hog the good cases, and it will be equally crappy if you can't step up and say "hey, I've never done this before, can I try?" There is ample time to try everything, usually more than once, and in the end no one cares that you got to place 8 catheters during your week on SA practice. They will care that you worked well with others.

Anyway, enough of that. So aside from studying and endless cakes, Andrew and I also had tons of fun outside of uni. Here are some pictures to highlight some of the fun things we did!
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Andrew and I moved! We have an adorable house, in a nice neighbourhood, with a huge, beautiful back garden! :)
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We also got a new kitten at the same time! Maisie is so cute! She's not nearly that small anymore, but she's still adorable (although Tsuki doesn't like her much!). Funny story: we were told she was a boy and had named her Jasper (we didn't really think to double check), but as she got slightly bigger we thought, hang on, those parts don't look boy-like. So when I took her for her first vet appointment I brought it up and the vet confirmed our suspicions. I'm really glad I spoke up, because I'm pretty sure it would have been embarrassing if the vet thought I couldn't sex a cat as a final year!
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 Ok, I lied, more cake. But I didn't make this one. For my birthday, Andrew got me an ADORABLE cake. So cute! I almost felt bad eating it, but eat it I did!
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Thanksgiving was the day after my birthday, and was amazing, especially because we hosted it in our new house! I'm definitely going to keep up this American tradition. My future children may grow up in the UK, but they will learn to love Thanksgiving! :P Sadly I didn't manage to take any pictures this year (wtf?). I think I got caught up in the craziness of trying to make a full Thanksgiving dinner without a day off for it and forgot. I'll do better next year, I promise.
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Ok, so there's more cake. For my birthday present, Andrew got us a cookie and cupcake decorating class! It was in December, so it was Christmas themed, and it was very yummy.
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The results of our decorating. Skillz.
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 We got a full sized (but a bit scraggly) Christmas tree this year. I feel like a real person now! After seeing the tree that Andrew's friends Fi and James got, which was bigger, fuller AND cheaper, I think we will do better next year. It still looked and smelled great, and I can't wait to celebrate more Christmases in our house!
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 Andrew, Maisie and Me! Tsuki was far too angry to be picked up in such proximity to the little cat.
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We had a lovely Christmas dinner at Andrew's parents' house. It was very relaxed and fun, and we played board games and just sat around chatting. It was great! They are like my second family :)
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After Christmas, Andrew and I took a trip to Dunnottar Castle, which is beautiful and majestic! This is why I love Scotland! The castle was home to one of the most powerful families in Scotland, the Earls Marischal from the 14th century on and housed the Honours of Scotland (the crown jewels) for awhile.
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 At our Staff-Student Dinner we had a lot of fun chatting to staff members and hanging out and getting dressed up. Here's my awesome group again!
Poon and me!

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Every year the Final Year puts on a 'Final Year Revue' which celebrates (and makes fun of) our experiences during the year. It was a lot of fun, but mostly because I got to hang out with my friends and forget about studying for an evening!
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For one glorious week back in March we had 20 degree (C) weather and sunshine, and Anik and I spent most of it lying out in the garden soaking up the vitamin D. Now it is May and snowing. I miss that week...
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During that beautiful week of sun, we planned a BBQ with some of my and Andrew's friends. Sadly, it became cloudy and cold as soon as it started. Oh well! It was still fun to hang out and the conservatory was pleasantly warm.
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For Margaret's (Andrew's mum) birthday, we surprised her with dinner in St. Andrews and a cheeky monkey cake with a firecracker on top!
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On my week off, in between studying I decided to hike up the nearest Pentland hill. Our house is somewhere just beyond the left side of the picture.
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Poon and I had to take a trip down to London to take the NAVLE (North American Veterinary License Examination), which is a SIX HOUR test of all multiple choice. Needless to say, it was long, and tedious, but I think it went okay. Afterward we celebrated by walking to Chinatown and eating dumplings before catching our train home.
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This is what Maisie looks like now, she's almost a normal sized kitteh! She is always getting into trouble, and harassing Tsuki, and trying to eat our feet in the middle of the night, but she's adorable, really.
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Anyway, our 3 weeks of electives start tomorrow, and then are exams! I've signed up for oncology, which should be really interesting, as I'll get to see a lot of things I probably wont see in practice, and hopefully it will give me a good background for diagnosing cancer in my own patients.

After that it's some intense studying before finals, and then exams! I cannot tell you how nervous I am for these. I know that I know enough to be a good vet, it's just so difficult when you're put on the spot to be coherent and remember every little detail! I just need to keep reminding myself to stay calm. I can do this!

7 comments:

Ellie said...

Hi,
I just wanted to say that, as a *hopefully* future vet student, I really enjoy reading your blog. Its really interesting! I am, at the moment (this weekend), trying to decide between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow for veterinary and so I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me:

- I had heard that Edinburgh has good rabbit, exotics, wildlife facilities... do the vet students get the benefit of these, for example, do you rotate through them as part of the course? I'm just curious because I'm really interested in exotics.
- What is the academic support for students? I had heard that the advisor to go to is the Director of Studies... does that work in practice, are they helpful/approachable?
- Is there a gym/exercise classes or anything at Pollock/for the university. I had read that the gym membership was about 100 pounds/yr and was always crowded and not very good... do you know if this is true?
- General likes/dislikes?

Replying to any of these questions would be really helpful in me making my decision.

Thanks,
Eleanor

Tara Bergin said...

Hi Eleanor, I'm glad you've been enjoying my blog :) I'd love to answer your questions to help you with your decision. :)

- The exotics program at Edinburgh is fantastic. The staff is amazing, and some of them are my favourite staff members. We have one semester of "Equine and Exotics" and we actually have a really decent amount of exotics in it, and they're adding more all the time. We do rotate through exotics as part of our clinical year as well and get to see a lot of species. We do 1 week as standard, but then you can always schedule EMS work in your holidays or request them for your elective at the end of your final years. They are really enthusiastic and are great about having students do extra time with them.

- The academic support for students is pretty good, although truthfully I'm a sort of suck-it-up-and-deal sort of person, so I didn't use them as much as I probably could/should have. :P My director of studies was fantastic though, and really approachable and amazing. There were a couple of DoS's that were less available, but they are always helpful when they're needed, and if you don't get along for whatever reason it's pretty easy to switch. I do think they are replacing the director of studies thing with a different mentor-type thing next year, but from what I've heard about it they're taking a lot of student feedback into account, so it should be pretty good. Either way, most of the professors are awesome, and if you befriend one of them you can always go to them for help or advice.

- There is a gym for the university in the Pleasance area. I'm not sure what the membership is for students because I used it a few years ago, but when I was there I never really had any problems. There is now a (small) gym at Easter Bush now, which is where you'll be spending your time, and it's much cheaper and depending on what time you go seems to be pretty accessible, and I hear they're now running Zumba classes for staff and students!

- Overall I would say I have loved my time at the Dick Vet. The first 3 years were a bit less fun only because they were more lectures than clinical and a bit overwhelming at times, but it's still very interesting, and definitely worth it in the end. Final year has been an absolute blast, and I can't believe it's over! I also think that the students at Edinburgh are really supportive of one another, and the vast majority of the professors really want you to do well, and help you when you need it. I think the city is also fantastic. There is no shortage of good things to do in Edinburgh, and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather live.

Anyway, I hope that helps you. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask :)

Tara

Ellie said...

Thanks a lot for all that information - its really helpful! And congratulations on just graduating!!! :)

Eleanor

Ellie said...

Hi,
Thanks for replying previously - the exotics program sounds great! I actually had just a couple more questions, if you have time to answer them:

- I don't know if you had any vet friends at Glasgow, but I was wondering if you knew anything about how the program at Edinburgh compared to that at Glasgow?
- Also, I had heard that Edinburgh was going to be bringing in its own shuttle bus next year to transport students from Pollock Halls to Easterbush, but nobody from Edinburgh had confirmed that with me, do you know anything about it?

Again, thanks,
Eleanor

Ellie said...

One more question? :)
How much (if any) animal husbandry do you do in years 1 - 3?

I'm just trying to understand how the program works
Thanks!, Eleanor :)

Tara Bergin said...

Sure, no problem :)

- I don't actually know very much about Glasgow, unfortunately, although I've heard their programme is good as well, and their hospital is fantastic (it's a bit newer than ours). But other than that I can't really tell you much. :)
- They are trying to get a shuttle bus, there was a big petition going around earlier this year. All I know is that they're working it out, they haven't given us any information on that yet. I will say that buses here are really reliable, so it's no big deal either way to get out here, and you'll probably know someone with a car to carpool with anyway.
- We have more or less 1 year of animal husbandry, officially anyway, but you'll be learning about husbandry throughout the course really. Again, they've changed the course structure since I went through it, but I imagine that's probably the same :)

Hope that helps :)
Tara

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