Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FInal Freakout

I just went back and read my very first post, about how scared and anxious I was to actually be starting school. It is a feeling I remember quite well, something some friends and I were commenting on the other day. Joe asked us all if we had any idea at the start of all this, that vet school would really be this hard and draining and tiring and frustrating and endless. No, we all replied. But, I also chimed in that I never thought I could have so much fun over such menial things, make such incredible friends, that my marriage would actually be better off (not that it was rocky to begin with) and mostly that I could actually make it through first year. I suppose I should save all this reminiscing of first year until it's actually over though, I'll wait 'till next week when I am FINALLY DONE WITH FIRST YEAR!!! Until then though, I am up to my eyeballs in finals.

I am trying to stay more on top of studying this semester than last, remembering to run and sleep and eat well. So far so good, but finals don't start until next week. We have already taken a few "finals" in one hour classes and a few labs--more out of the way is better. And I learned a few things, especially from my physical exam final. The assignment was to choose a species (canine, feline, bovine or equine) and preform a complete physical exam with proper history taking, note taking and communication. Dress, professionalism, efficiency, knowledge of the subject and physical exam skills were the criteria on which we were being graded. It is difficult to actually study for something like this, I mean where exactly do you start? I thought about just walking up to random ranchers and asking if they could take some time out of their day to chute a cow and let me poke and prod her, but I didn't actually go that route. Instead I went the same ol' route I use for studying for every other class, I memorized. Our professors HATE that we memorize things, they want us to integrate the information, utilize it in our day to day lives. But the cold hard truth is that when you are never allowed to see live animals it's a little hard to "integrate" clinical signs for Equine Protazoal Myelitis. So, we memorize. Turns out that was NOT a good idea with the physical exam final. I was so focused on making sure I didn't miss palpating any lymph nodes, that I checked the udder, got an ear tag, worked in a systematic fashion...that I completely forgot to ask big bold blaring things that were staring me right in the face.

Here's the situation: dairy cow (Holstein), 3 months fresh (that means she calved 3 months ago) now has watery diarrhea. So I asked, what ration is she on? Is her milk production down? Is she vaccinated? Is she eating? Is she lame? How's her urination habits? (For you cow people out there this seems like a ridiculous question, and it is, but our small animal professor FORCED us to ask this--she said we would fail if we didn't). Questions that I forgot to ask that should have been FIRST on my list: Are any other cows/calves affected? When was the last time she was dewormed? (seriously, probably the most important question.) What's her water intake? Is this a closed herd? I also keenly forgot to check her hydration status. IDIOT. So, lesson learned--don't memorize for the real world. I was so focused on making it through my memorized list, I missed the entire disease and diagnosis because I memorized some stupid list. And I know better. I actually did pretty well on the exam- grade wise. The clinician was impressed with my physical exam skill, but he did mention that the diagnosis was basically staring me in the face and I just shoved it out of the way to find the pre-scapular lymph node. Damn.

So, as I prepare for finals I will try to practice what I preach and not memorize. But, there is just so much information and not any good way to integrate it right now. So, I think I'll just try to manually shove it in and pray some of it stays there until 4th year. Here's to finals!!!

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