My philosphy

My philosphy

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Align my heart, my body, my soul.

Wow. This past week has been so different. First off, I started my final semester in the Veterinary Technology program, and therefore my externship. I decided to do my externship in a Laboratory Animal Research facility at our local medical university. I wanted to see something different from general practice, where I have worked for 8 years. After taking Laboratory Animal Medicine over the summer, I had a new found understanding for this field. I didn't know much about it, but was fascinated. Here is a quick overview of this past week.

Monday: I started my externship, I attended a staff meeting, met my new supervisors and did some important IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) training modules. I spent about 8 hours at my externship, talking, training, reading, and finding out that I could observe surgeries on Friday!

Tuesday: I worked the morning, and my first Probability and Statistics class was canceled.

Wednesday: My first Emergency & Critical Care Class. We had lecture about what makes an emergency, monitoring equipment, and other emergency equipment. That night Todd and I had a discussion about my future in school, as a vet, our current situation, money, etc. I had a difficult decision to make.

Thursday: I went up to work early to talk with the office manager, and I gave my letter of resignation, effective immediately. I found myself unable to give 110% at work, *AND* do my externship the way I wanted, *AND* keep my house clean, *AND* study for school, *AND* not lose my mind. I didn't want to compromise on this amazing opportunity I have to learn, and my end goal is not in general practice. I love what I do for a living, but am sick of seeing animals suffer and being euthanized from PREVENTABLE diseases that are truly not cost prohibited to prevent in the first place. I could tell that the path I was heading down would only lead to resentment. I didn't want to resent my job, my coworker, compromise my patients, and hate myself for sacrificing the chance I have with this externship. The decision to leave my job was difficult, and I was scared. Thankfully I have an amazing, loving fiance, an equally awesome best friend and parents, all who offered to help out however they can. As Todd told me "you are going to be a doctor damn it, you should be focusing on school". Now I can do just that.

Class was spent rotating through 3 lab groups, practicing simple laboratory tests such as PCV/TS, BG & Physical exams. PCV/TS are two easy to run and important screening tests in animals. Packed Cell Volume, or the percentage of red blood cells in a sample of blood. TS are the Total Solids, or amount of protein in the serum or plasma.These tell you if the animal is anemic, over or under hydrated and if they are losing protein. BG is the blood glucose. We also practiced reading blood smears and quantifying the different white blood cells (there are 5) and platelets (they play a role in clot formation). Afterwards, I had my first probability and statistics class, which wasn't too bad. According to my instructor, those that don't do well in algebra do well in prob & stats, and vice versa. Which means, I should *ROCK* this class! It helps that prob & stats is actually used in the real world, and is especially used in epidemiology. I may actually enjoy this class!

Friday: I spent all day at my externship watching amazing surgeries for a study not being done ANYWHERE else in the world!!! I cannot go into details, but let me state this....these animals in the study are given better pain management protocols than I have *EVER* seen in a clinic! Fentanyl patches, which are an opioid that is delivered over 72 hours are used, along with a pre-medication injection of an opioid that lasts 6-8 hours (Buprenorphine) and is repeated for several days post-op. I was amazed to see the anesthetic protocols, and how money is no concern, patient welfare is. The animals are treated with such respect, and the employees (vets, vet techs, MD's, etc) are all compassionate toward them. I have learned so much the first 8 hours of actually doing hands on work.

Monday: Back to my externship. It was more slow, but still interesting. I was able to place some IV catheters into rabbit ears, which was easy but frustrating to tape in. My hands are used to taping IV catheters into cats and dogs, not bunny ears! Thankfully my catheters stayed in and as it became easier I looked less foolish! My afternoon was spent reading SOP (standard operating procedures) and absorbing all the knowledge that the clinical veterinarian I am working under shared with me. I started to notice a bad headache by the end of the day, again.

Today, Tuesday: I was able to hang out with my Mom for a bit, then head to my prob & stats class. I noticed about half way through, I started with another headache. After discussing with family, I think I need to get my vision checked...I get headaches frequently, reading computer screens are an eye sore, I realized I was holding a magazine awfully close yesterday and when I pulled it further away, I could read the words but the surrounding page was blurred and I had to focus hard, driving at night gives me headaches and the lights are especially bright and bothersome....yeah, just what I need, to pay out of pocket for an eye exam. It's important, I understand that, but expensive!

So far this year has been full of change! Lets see, I am graduating and earning my first of many degrees this May. I am taking my exams to become an Licensed Vet Tech (LVT) this Summer. I am getting married this Halloween. I will still be in school full time. And now I get to have an eye exam to figure out if I need glasses, and if not, what is causing my headaches and eye strain! My my, that is a lot!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Bubonic Plague

Being home-schooled since 4th grade, I was able to really study and learn the subjects that fascinated me and get graded on it. My *favorite* subject was The Bubonic Plague. Whenever I was able to do a project about this disease, I did. History, Biology, Microbiology, yea...The Bubonic Plague! Yersina pestis is the causative agent and this disease is still present today. I am a little slow when it comes to current events, and reading some e-mails, so when I was cleaning out my inbox today, I came across this article, with a link to another recent case.

Most recently (last Fall), during microbiology, we had to present a power point presentation about an emerging disease. I asked the instructor if I could present Y. pestis, only because I am still so enamored by it. Thankfully she appreciated my nerdyness and allowed it. I received full marks on the project, and enjoyed presenting yet another project on my favorite epidemic of all times. Yes, it's my favorite. I fly my nerd flag proudly!
Think about it, this bacteria infects a specific species of flea (the rat flea) which has an entry valve to the stomach that allows for full gastric distention after a blood meal, and doesn’t allow regurgitation stomach contents at next feeding. A blood meal containing Y. pestis, allows for multiplication of the bacteria in the stomach, which then form a ball of microbes & blood. This inactivates the stomach valve, so at each feeding the flea regurgitates the bacteria.  At least 25,000 bacteria are regurgitated, and the flea, frustrated and hungry, finds a new host to feed on and starts the cycle again. The flea will literally starve to death.
·         In human blood, Y. pestis does not reach high enough concentrations to cause a gastric block in the flea’s stomach, so it is not spread from person to person via the flea.

I am amazed at how bacteria and viruses can evolve to better infect a host. I also think it's pretty nifty that there is now an antibiotic out to specifically treat the plague. 

Oh diseases and zoonoses, how I love thee.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The many facets of vet med

I touched on my current "Flavor of the Week" during my previous blog post, public health. This post is to shed some light on a concentration of vet med that most people are unaware of. Typically, when one thinks of a veterinarian, they think of someone who treats cats and dogs. Period. This is something the vet med community is working to change. Right now there are too many students applying to vet school, and too little openings to accept them. There are not enough jobs for the overwhelming amount of new graduations, and most cannot pay back their loans. This is a terrifying thought, even for someone who is passionate and knows what they are getting into. The large animal field needs vets, the lab animal field needs vets, the food industry needs vets, and the military needs vets, not just the cats and dogs.

Public health is an important aspect of vet med, although it is not the most glamorous. To be honest, up until recently I didn't know you could work in public health as a DVM, let alone know that some veterinary schools offered a dual enrollment degree of DVM/MPH (Masters of Public Health). I've started some research into the dual enrollment programs, and they want students with experience in public health. After researching some more, I found out the College Of Charleston (a local college) offers a B.S in Public Health! I looked into the classes, and they are right up my alley.

Here are a few of the more interesting classes:


Human Anatomy 
Human Physiology  
Medical Anthropology 

Disease, Medicine and History

Disease, Medicine and World History   

Medical Sociology 

Social Gerontology  

Biomedical Ethics  

oh hell, even 

Biostatistics in Health Sciences   

sounds interesting! Pretty much anything relating to the medical field is interesting to me. However the Public Health B.S will not cover all of my pre-reqs for vet school. After *even more* research, I think I figured it out. I will finish my Associate in Applied Science at TTC, which will fulfill all but the biochemistry and genetics courses I require. At CofC I can major in public health while minoring in biology (to take those final two classes). This way I can get a good idea about a career in public health, while still earning the degree needed for vet school. If I change my mind, no worries, because the vet schools really do not care what your degree is in, as long as you fulfill the required classes! 

So, by the end of it, if I stay this course...I will have earned
An Associate in Applied Science, Veterinary Technology
An Associate in Applied Science
A Bachelors in Public Health (minor in biology)
A Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine
A Masters in Public Health

FIVE...that's right, count them...FIVE degrees!

BUT, I will be doing something related to diseases, a *major* interest of mine, AND working as a veterinarian for the betterment of both human and animal health. How cool is that?! I'll admit, I am slightly afraid of the dual DVM/MPH course load, and having to do a research project/thesis...but the classes will be interesting, I know I can handle them.

I of course looked into what exactly a DVM/MPH graduate would do, and I am fascinated. The CDC of course hires veterinarians, and epidemiology is a *HUGE* field for vets! Apparently they will also help pay back student loans, and of course have great government benefits! Not only could I have a dream job, but the benefits and job security would be amazing as well. However, the hours may be long, and having to travel all over the world can be exciting, but having to leave behind family to do so...

Here is a link to a great, albeit long, video. It's 30 minutes long, but quite interesting! The video is a lecture done by a Veterinarian Epidemiologist who works for the CDC!

Did you know that 60% of current documented human infectious diseases originate from animals?! Here is another great link discussing zoonoses, and just how important veterinarians are in public health.

Even some non-zoonotic diseases may help treat, cure or prevent human diseases! Last May, researchers discovered that dogs have a Hepatitis C virus similar to humans, and it may assist in studying the disease in humans!

Okay, last link I will share...the other day I watched one of my favorite movies, Contagion. I loved the medical/scientific accuracy of this film. Once I saw the special features and interviews with the MD/MPH's, the epidemiologists, and other scientists that the writers, directors and actors worked with, I fell even deeper in love! There was a link to this website, and I am hooked! I love the information provided, my quite large nerdy self is satisfied!