pre-DADT-repeal conversation:

me: Hey, Dr. AirForce, can I ask you a question about the lab?

Dr. AirForce: Sure, what's up?

(insert conversation about cell signaling here)

me: You mentioned that you used to teach in the Air Force?  That's awesome.

Dr. AF: I really enjoyed it. Hey, if you're interested, there are plenty of opportunities for veterinarians in the armed forces.

me: Thank you, but the military doesn't appreciate my lifestyle.


Dr. AF: Well...times are a-changin'!

tips for visiting a veterinary school: a client.

1. It mildly behooves you to know someone who is affiliated with the hospital.  This person can provide you with many useful tidbits. For example, at this hospital general practice appointments are given individual time slots, and seen almost immediately on time.

On the other hand, ophtho appointments are usually overbooked to the max. This means the folks with early appointment times are in and out in a reasonable time span, but by 11 am the clients have piled up like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert and you miiiiight be out by 2.  Maybe.


This is a basic truth that should be accepted, metabolized, and moved on from as quickly as possible.

3. You will probably not see the same doctor at each appointment. You may actually see multiple doctors in a day, and then see a whole new set the next time.  This is because service chiefs, interns and residents rotate on and off services weekly, and there are hordes of them.

4. You will probably wait for a very long time.  You might be here the whole day. Many services see all appointments in the morning, and then do all procedures in the afternoon.

5. If you leave your pet's collar/blanket/jacket with us when he or she is admitted to the hospital, it has an approximately 98% chance of being lost in the bowels of the hospital laundry system. Do not be a dick to your doctor when this happens.

6. The student assigned to your pet's case probably spends the most time out of anyone caring for and thinking about your pet.  Here, each service student has perhaps 1-3 patients. Each service resident has 6-20 patients. Each service chief has 15-ALL the patients.

Here, the student does the morning and evening treatments, calls you (the owner) twice a day, updates the resident with changes in your pet's condition, and updates the medical record with findings from the resident's exams. They are the person hand feeding your dog, sneaking chicken from the cafeteria to tempt a picky eater, and saying yes, maybe an antiemetic would be a good idea.

7. It is uncool to wander around the hospital.

8. It is also uncool to ask your student or doctor to tell you about other people's pets. That is not legal.

9.  The birthdate listed in the medical record is only there to give us the year of birth.  I've met several clients who find it deeply offensive that our records do not always reflect an accurate day/month of birth. Why is this, you may ask?  If you don't provide a specific birthday when you fill out your paperwork (just a year), we...make one up! Yaaaaaaaaay!

10. If it's June or July and your doctor looks like they are shitting a brick, they probably are. They maaaaay have just started their current job yesterday. They know things. They are good doctors. Be nice.

vet school sports:


The six mile (okay it's shorter but it seems that far) dash from the hospital to the lab with blood from the ER case that arrived ten minutes before the lab closes.

The "racewalk" to keep up with the 6'5'' surgery chief without jogging.

The sprint after suddenly remembering that a clay paw has been in the oven for seven hours longer than the recommended thirty minute bake time.


The Olympic deadlift...of the 140lb neuro dog onto the gurney.

The attempted leading of the beef cow - often ends in a rousing drag through the barns and around the parking lot.

The multiple 5-liter fluid bag carry from the storage room to the treatment area.


Scrubbed into a GI surgery?  Awesome!  Here, hold this retractor for five hours.

The neverending surgical pathology slide rounds - but, bonus! One can discreetly fall asleep by leaning into the eyepieces of the multi-headed scope. Just don't tip over.

 It's 9 pm on a Friday, and all the patient treatments are done.  Now sounds like an excellent time to round for three hours on fracture stabilization.

a stablehand in real life:

Before I went to vet school, I spent some time working as a groom for an upper level jumper rider. It was an inordinately stressful experience, but I learned a few weird/valuable lessons AND (most importantly) I had a lot of fun.

I worked for two women, who we'll call Susan (rider) and Jennifer (her romantic/business partner) We were a staff of 6-10 people, depending on the season and how successful Jennifer was at hiring replacements for the constant staff turnover. We also all lived in an apartment above the barn.  This was mostly cool with me, except for when:

1) one of my co-workers was a drug dealer and stole money from me/other co-workers/the farm.

2) Jennifer unknowingly hired a person who smuggled saddles out of her last place of work shortly before being fired. Her last boss contacted Jennifer, who then sent me to "supervise" this poor woman as she packed her things and left.  Wow, that was terribly awkward.

I worked very, very hard. It was my first experience working regular twelve hour days, with the occasional memorable stretch of several eighteen hour days in a row.  It was good, honest work. Cleaning stalls, scrubbing buckets, grooming/tacking up/caring for horses, tidying up the barn, and wrapping horses' legs are all tasks I love to do, and the horses were absolutely magnificent.

Plus, I learned some highly fancy medicine. Nothing like working for an Olympic rider to see the best equine sports medicine in existence!  Fun times.