Like us on Facebook & Instagram
Questions? Comments?


The White Coat

Submission by Gabrielle Woo (Cornell University) 

Last weekend my veterinary class received the symbolic doctor’s “white coat” marking our transition into clinical rotations at the college teaching hospital. We begin clinics on Monday.

At our White Coat Ceremony there were lots of photographs and many congratulations, much applause and more speeches than I can remember. But one particular comment has stayed with me over this week of spring break, and it is this:

Your white coat will only become heavier with time.

This is an exciting but sobering thought. On one hand, I’m thrilled to be able to treat real, breathing, sick animals in need of medical care. On the other hand, I’m struck by the weight of such an enormous responsibility. If I make a mistake, my patient could die. And sometimes, despite my best efforts, my patient will still die. Am I ready to face this?

My father jokes that I look even younger in this weekend’s white coat portraits than I did in my high school graduation photos. You’re still a kid at heart, but soon people will be calling you a Doctor! Thanks Dad. Much as I hate to admit it, he’s right – and in some ways I am glad. The thought of becoming grown-up, cynical, and too bone-tired to care makes me incredibly sad. I have seen it weigh down my friends, colleagues and mentors, and I fear it may happen to me, too.

I become more hopeful when I think about the past few days of spring break, which were my last real holidays for a while. This week held whimsical rambling trail runs and hikes, a couple of still-life photo sessions and not a few conversations with four-legged friends; mornings spent puttering in the kitchen, long afternoon naps and many lovely hours passed with my nose in a book and a drowsy kitty in my lap. There were also beautiful moments of music and laughter and sweet silence with friends as we enjoyed our last few days of vacation together.

In my heart of hearts, I think I am afraid that all these things that carry such joy – running, art, creation, friendships – will be overwhelmed by the demands of learning to be a veterinarian. Over this week, though, as I look ahead to beginning clinical rotations, I remember how excited and scared I felt when I was accepted to vet school at Cornell. Now, three years later, I am reminded yet again of how blessed I am to be among both two-legged and four-legged friends in a profession I love.

I suppose that in the end, the  “weight” of my white coat is not, and never has been, mine to carry alone.


Cutest Pet Awards

We had so many great pet photos submitted to our Photography category for this round ... so we couldn't resist making a new special category for "Cutest Pet"! Who can resist looking at these beautiful creatures??  Congratulations to the winners!


"White on White" Coco belongs to Taylor Owens from Texas A&M. SO DANG CUTE."Stare" Logan belongs to Amanda Amore from Washington State University. Don't mind if I DO stare!"Summer Bliss" Submission by Stephanie Skinner from Kansas State. I want to be where this cat is. "Matching Shoes" by Haley Casbeer. This photo makes me melt.


An Extern Abroad

Submission by Catherine Lang, Texas A&M.  Congrats on your 1st Place Experiences Award!

         Fourth-year. Clinics. The year we all daydreamed of while zoning out in first-year anatomy lab. The year we finally face live patients, as opposed to cadavers. The year we finally get to apply our book knowledge in a clinical setting. Instead of spending all day in the library pouring over books and powerpoints, we spend all day in the hospital – ordering lab work, running to the pharmacy to pick up medication, and learning how to think like a doctor.

         I’m tracking small animal because I’m interested in going into a small animal private practice when I graduate. As a result, I’ve spent the majority of my year in the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M. Built into the small animal track are four weeks of externship that I can use to learn about how veterinary medicine is practiced outside of the University walls. Most people use this time as an opportunity to work in a private practice in the U.S. – perhaps as a way to learn more about a clinic that they’re interested in working for after graduation. I decided to expand my options, leave my comfort zone, and do my externship in Faxe, Denmark.

         Why Denmark? Well, I have studied abroad twice before in Padova, Italy: first, studying physiologySidse (5th year veterinary student at the University of Copenhagen) and I with a patient recovering from a foreign body surgery. during the summer of 2012, and second, participating in a food safety and public health seminar during the summer of 2014. I consider each trip to have been an invaluable portion of my veterinary education as a rare opportunity to learn about veterinary methods and practices worldwide. Because of these past travels, I learned that outside the arena of scholastic learning, I really enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures – especially those in Europe. I knew I wanted to spend at least part of my externship time at a foreign clinic.

         Denmark originally came up after hearing great things from some classmates who had previously studied abroad there with Dr. Wasser. While I was struggling to decide between countries, the Universe seemingly made my decision for me: my boyfriend, a law student at the University of Texas, had finalized his plans to study abroad for the fall semester in Copenhagen, Denmark. Knowing that I had a free place to stay in Copenhagen (a huge plus when you are living abroad as a student), having heard great things from Dr. Wasser, and having never visited the Nordic region of Europe previously, all of the pieces fell perfectly in place.

         The clinic where I worked in Denmark was called Evidensia

Click to read more ...



Lauren E Kustasz won best oral presentation given by a veterinary student at our school's annual Phi Zeta Research day for her summer research project.  Check out her interesting work below, and congratulations to her on her Cases/Abstracts Award!


Lauren E Kustasz-1, Laurence M Occelli-1,2, Paige A Winkler-1,2, Simon M Petersen-Jones-1,2

1) College of Veterinary Medicine, 2) Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetically heterogeneous hereditary disease that causes photoreceptor degeneration in dogs and is equivalent to Retinitis Pigmentosa in humans. The phenotype and mechanism as well as potential therapies have been studied in a colony of dogs with autosomal recessive PRA due to a mutation in Cngb1. In this disease, prior to rod death, there is a shortening of rod outer segments and deterioration of the photoreceptors as early as 8 weeks of age. We hypothesize that there is a stage during retinal degeneration after which gene therapy will no longer be able to rescue rod function or prevent rod cell death. The objectives of this study were to determine the success of gene supplementation in Cngb1-/- dogs and to assess the stage of retinal degeneration at which gene therapy can still restore useful visual function. Five Cngb1-/- dogs with different degrees of rod degeneration and loss (ages range from 3 to 10.5 months) were injected with the same AAV5 GRK1-cCNGB1 vector. The degree of restoration of rod function was assessed by electroretinography (ERG) and vision testing. The thickness and morphology of the photoreceptor layers was assessed using Spectral Domain-Optical Coherence Tomography in vivo. We found that dogs injected at 3, 5 and 6 months of age showed a larger improvement of rod-mediated ERG amplitudes and improved vision rescue in low light intensities compared to the dog treated at 10.5 months. This study shows that although successful in providing rod function, gene therapy is more effective in Cngb1-/- dogs with earlier stages of rod photoreceptor loss.


Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'n' Roll

A cartoon depiction of what a career as an equine theriogenologist is like... :)

-Rachael Kearns, NC State

Congrats on your Creative Corner + 3rd Best Overall Awards!