Megan Gleeson, Colorado State University
Life as a Vet Student
The sun was deep below the horizon by the time we arrived to the dive site, with Kauai just off our bow. Sitting on the edge of the boat, I tightened my weight belt and put on my fins. The water looked cloudy. It had rained a lot in the last few days, and red dirt run-off was sifting over the algae reef. Seth, the dive master, began to tell divers about the site, Hale O’honu—in English, “House of Turtles.” True to its name, these reefs were usually busting with Green Sea Turtles. I looked at my older brother, Joe, who was also the captain of this boat. Needless to say, I had an easy “in” for a summer job as bubble watcher, deckhand, office manager, etc. Getting to join in on the dive tonight would be an added treat, and I was antsy to get in the water.
Joe gave me the “go ahead” nod. I pulled down my mask and snorkel and slid into the water. My hair immediately stood on end. The water was indeed murky, but in a more disturbing way than I’d predicted. About 15 feet below me, an expanse of brown murk had spread out so thickly that it might as well have been a hardwood floor between me and the reef. I’d been diving in cloudy waters before, but something about this murk filled me with anxiety. And most unnerving, I had the overwhelming sensation that I was being watched. Hopefully just by sea turtles, I thought to myself.
I pulled my head out of water and looked up at Joe, who was standing tall from the bow. I envied how far he was out of the water. “See it?” he asked. I spit my snorkel out with a bit of seawater and said, “Not yet. There’s a really weird murk layer down here.”
Katherine Baldwin, Western University
Foot in Mouth Disease
As first year vet students on clinical rotations, there are many things that you are not very comfortable doing. When asked to express the anal glands on a tiny Chihuahua while never having done it before, it is understandable why some students would have hesitated. The supervising clinician offered some unforgettable words of comfort and encouragement when he said, “It will be OK - never underestimate the elasticity of the anal sphincter.”
Sarah Colmer, UPenn
Experiences, Honorable Mention
It was June of 2014 and the small propeller plane being masterfully guided through scenic mountains and amidst the borders of sparking Caribbean coast contained 13 veterinary students from the University of Pennsylvania, myself included, and one veterinarian from England. We are part of an organization known as Pou Sante: Amar Haiti – translating from Haitian Creole to mean “for health,” and the health of the livestock and farmers is our focus. After fundraising during the year through school events and the generous hearts of donors, we made our trek to Thibeau, a small Haitian village which would be our headquarters for veterinary work for two weeks. We noted the stunning natural beauty of the landscape from our position in the clouds, curious as to the variety of animals and people alike that we would come across on the beautiful island below us. Our plane landed gracefully in the blaring sun on the tarmac lined with looming palm trees. It was a beautiful setting in which to accomplish our goals.
Our journey had two main focuses: one was a mobile clinic to take care of the immediate needs of local farmers. We went to three different villages and held six days of clinics where people came form far and wide with their cattle, goats, horses, dogs, cats and pigs in tow. We would start our morning in a schoolyard-turned-hospital at 8 AM to the cacophonous sounds of mooing, bleating, barking and whinnying. We opened our gate to a long line of conscientious villagers who understood the importance of the health of their animals and wanted to learn how they could improve their own farming and veterinary techniques. We provided full physical exams, vaccinations, treatment for internal and external parasites, and assessed pregnancies. We dispensed advice with the help of a phenomenal translator, conducted interviews about farming practices, and chatted and laughed with the farmers and their children.