Saturday, February 17, 2007

A short guide to vet school

Chris asked me a question yesterday that made me realize that most people don't know what the heck I'm learning about ("So, what *is* physiology?"). So here's a short guide to what my classes are about...........

Physiology: Last semester, anatomy taught us about the architecture of the body- bones, muscles, organs, etc. Physiology teaches us the engineering of the body, how the heart moves blood, how the kidney filters nasties out of blood, etc.

Genetics: Bah. I don't like genetics. Basically, it's how DNA (and problems with DNA) affects animals.

Pharmacology: Drug class. Next year, we'll actually be learning about specific drugs and how they work. This year, we are learning how little pills (and shots and gas) can affect what's happening inside the body. For some reason, I really like this class. I think because it is turning something the seems magic (this pill makes my headache go away) into something that I can understand.

Neurology: *Least* favorite class. This is brain class. We learn about different regions of the brain, the different types of cells, what parts deal with what type of sensory input, etc. We also cover the "special senses" (ears, eyes, nose), and the structure of the organs associated with them. It's okay, but frankly doesn't seem very applicable to vet med. How many veterinary brain surgeons are there? None.

Clinical Skills: The class where they let us play with live animals! This is where we learn about the basic skills, like how to do a surgical scrub, how to insert an IV, how to do a physical exam, and how not to get crushed by cows. Last semester was large animal clinical skills, and this semester is small animal. We get to get experience at a clinic that we'll choose soon. I'm pretty excited to learn something that I can see myself needing to do regularly (sorry, but I don't think I'm gonna be a horse/cow vet).

Professional Skills: Usually a crossword class, although not always. This is where we learn about things like how to get out from under our enormous piles of debt, how to prevent or get help for substance abuse, how to relieve stress, and how to deal with difficult clients. Meh. I know it's important, but generally pretty dry.

Defense Against the Dark Arts: Just seeing if you are paying attention ;-)

Animal Populations: By default, usually has to do with large animals. Basically, it's about how to treat animals as a population rather than individually. Cattle herds, chicken flocks, etc. Again, crossword class. We do get to go on field trips for it though- last semester was a goat dairy, and this semester will be a dog breeding facility and I think a chicken farm. No tests, which is nice.

Immunology (Host Defenses): How the immune system works, and what happens when it goes haywire. Infection, fever, allergies, tumors! Mucous, vomiting, antibodies, histamines! It's fun, but complicated.

Virology: How viruses work and make life a pain for animals. We haven't started it yet- not til March 1st.

Organology: Generally, how the big organs work and what the cells look like normally. We had our first class last week, about the kidney. Still pretty dry, but better than Neuro.

Behavior Core: For one week in May, we get five 8- to-5 days of straight behavior. A second year told me that Winnie, with her housebreaking and anxiety problems, has already taught me most of Behavior Core.

That's it for this semester.... Will post another next semester!

(the puppy in the picture is Mabel, one of Winnie's dog-friends... awwww...)

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