Journal Entry #7

July 18, 2006

    Well I am now a veterinarian!  It's official.  Last time I wrote, I hadn't even finished my case reports.  Not to mention taken the final exams!  It was back at the end of April when I last wrote.  A whole ton of things have happened since that time.  First, I finished my case reports and also the equine rotation.  I managed to get mostly B's on my case reports so I was quite happy (it was a lot of work!).  My review at the end of the equine rotation went just fine.  The last day of the equine rotation was the last day of veterinary school ever, and also my birthday.  My equine rotation group-mates were very nice and we had a BBQ and "party" (with really funny games and a cake) to celebrate it all.  The weather in Glasgow was fantastic those last couple of months (of course it still rained on occasion though). 

    Then I went back to Orkney to see the abattoir (aka slaughterhouse).  I had half a day of orientation and saw two days of killing.  It was very interesting and the people who worked there were friendly, enthusiastic about their jobs, and willing to teach.  I am happy for that experience and I still want to eat meat.  I wrote my abattoir project report the next week, and then began studying for final exams.  All that seems like a blur - the studying, I mean.  I barely remember it at all (er - did I study?!).  I was also cleaning out my room, stacking things up, and packing things, throwing them away, or giving them to the cancer research charity shop.  I guess I do remember attending numerous tutorials and revision lectures for the exams.  They were very helpful. 

    The final exams came and went.  The small animal exam was split into 2 sessions (2 days).  The first day was a nightmare - it was held in the histology lab and we had 5 minutes per question (I think - even that is blurring now!).  This was the "interpretation exam" where we had mostly clinical pathology and a few odds and ends (like prescription writing and dermatology stuff).  Everyone I know ran out of time and that totally made us feel bad.  The final part of the exam were the actual OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Exams) - 5 mintues per station, something like 15 stations in total.  There was a good mix of communication stations and practical skill stations.  I remember having to demonstrate gecko handling, having to examine a dead dog's stifle and answering questions about the ACL, having to look at a cytology sample and answer questions, having to give discharge instructions about a dog with a bandage, having to gown and glove properly (maintaining asepsis), having to set up for thoracic radiographs, having to communicate about hypertension and hyphaema, having to place an IV catheter on a fake leg, having to do a wellness exam on a real dog, having to communicate bad news, having to listen to heart 3 sets of sounds and describe them, having to do a hand tie (suture), having to interpret an abdominal radiograph with a contrast study, and having to take a history and communicate.  It was a pretty cool exam, I think.  It tested you in so many ways.  It was SO stressful beforehand though.  The large animal/public health exams were worse (but I am better at small animals so it's only expected that I would feel that way).  They truly were interactive/oral.  I had 3 equine stations at first.  They asked about pre-purchase exam (I had to do a PE on a horse), equine Cushing's & laminitis, and bandages/wound healing.  Then I had 2 farm animal stations.  I had to examine sheep (and take a history), discuss sheep diseases, perform a pregnancy diagnosis exam on a cow (scary!) and answer cow reproduction questions.  Next came public health.  I had to look at/examine various rejected organs/parts and describe how to properly examine them (i.e. if you were a meat hygiene inspector or OVS).  Finally, I had my "oral exam".  It consisted of 2 people asking me questions for 20 minutes each.  I survived!  I felt good afterwards, and so I left on a happy note.  Later that week we found out that we passed our exams!! Everyone went celebrating at Lock 27 and many also went to a club afterwards (not me, as I avoid clubs due to noise pollution).

    I flew home to California after that.  I had 3 days in southern California before my parents and I moved my stuff up north (8 hour drive) with a U-Haul trailer, a car and a pickup truck.  We found my new apartment and I really like it (especially now that I'm settled into it).  The only bad thing is that it's in a gated community...but my actual apartment is outside the gates (so I have to open the gate with a key in order to get to my car!).  My actual apartment is also on a fairly busy road, but the traffic noise isn't that bad.  The pool here is nice but small.  I'm happy to have a covered parking spot assigned to me.  My apartment has one bedroom and is about 710 square feet in size.  Right now only Cosmo and I live here, but I want to get a cat as soon as I can (to keep poor Cosmo company).  I leave the radio on for Cosmo during the day.

    I had 1 week of my internship orientation and missed the last day of orientation to fly back to Glasgow for graduation.  I came SO close to missing graduation and I was totally crying on the plane when it was delayed out of Newark (due to "some weather"!).  Anyways, God was looking out for me and I did make it.  It was stressful going from the airport to the main campus.  I was running around in my shorts and T-shirt trying to get my robes and paperwork done.  I had so much fun actually graduating after all that!  I probably looked like crap though (pardon my French).  It was a beautiful ceremony with a song in Latin (we all had to learn it just prior to the ceremony), a huge pipe organ providing the music, and a prayer in Latin.  The robes and hoods were all beautiful (the hoods were the colour of whatever faculty you were graduating from; an orange-ish colour for the vet school).  We received the real diploma when we went up onto the platform - something different from most US universities.  Also, we didn't wear caps (not part of the Uni. of Glasgow tradition).  Instead, we were "capped" with this beautiful velvet cap - the Vice Chancellor placed it onto each of our heads and then removed it as he uttered a Latin phrase; we then shook his hand and moved on to our left to receive our diploma.  We had time to eat lunch between ceremonies.  We also had our class picture taken.  In the afternoon we had the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) ceremony.  We said our oath and signed the record.  We received a certificate and some of us received special prizes.  I received two: one in memory of a student who made it through vet school with certain difficulties (I have hearing loss - this was *my* difficulty), and one from Idexx for being good at Diagnostic Clinical Pathology (I'm still surprised at that one). 

    That night of July 1st we had our Grad Vet Ball.  It was held at the Radisson and it was beautiful (I only wish that the ceilidh band had played first rather than second).  Everyone and their families attended.  I had my photo taken with my parents by the photographer.  Hopefully we'll receive that soon.  I noticed that I missed the group photo too!  I hadn't even known there WAS a group photo until I received it in the mail (without me in it).  That night around midnight and later, I packed up the last of my stuff from my room in Glasgow.  I flew home to Sacramento the next morning.  Sacramento is home!!

    I am currently finishing my last of my 3 week oncology rotation.  The rotation has been the absolute slowest of anyone's, from what I can tell.  We usually get 1-4 chemotherapy patients a day and if we're lucky we get 1-2 new patients or rechecks.  This is because the main oncologist is on vacation all these weeks, leaving the resident and one oncologist who only works Saturdays.  I have been getting Wednesdays and Sundays off during this rotation.  But I have to attend the Wednesday night intern lectures (or radiology rounds).  We also have journal club every other week (this week being an exception - there's a special one we had tonight) in the evening.  We have weekly grand rounds on Tuesday mornings (one intern is designated to present a case to lead the discussion).  We have daily rounds 1-2 times per day.  So there's always plenty to think about and do!  Unless you don't have in-patients, like me!  I *have* seen a few walk-in patients though.  I had a parvo pup (who recovered well) and a gastroenteritis dog.  I had an ADR puppy and a puppy to vaccinate.  I also attend to all the refill prescriptions that I can.  Mainly I have been very bored and feel trapped at work with nothing to do (while everyone else slaves away).  But I am told to enjoy it while I can!  Next week I switch to the "emergency II" rotation.  I work Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (6pm-9am).  Emergency and critical care!  I am actually kind of looking forward to it.  I can see exotics too (it's up to the individual intern's comfort level).  I will have another vet there to support me for the most part, and when not there I can call them at home with questions.  I am mostly worried about adjusting my body to sleeping during the day.

    So I am happy!  I have my California veterinary license, meaning I am a true vet (and it's not a temporary license, it's a full license).  I have my diploma, which I recently framed (I paid a LOT for the frame because it's such an important document to me).  I even (get this!!) have a new computer!!  Because I was stupid and spilled liquid on my old one.  :(  The new computer is really nice but I certainly paid for it ($1127 or so from Costco; another Toshiba Satellite). 2006-2007 C. Fulton