Thursday, December 27, 2012

What professionalism?

So I get a lot of hits on this blog from the Student Doctor Network forums. People link to my blog as a good way to get an idea about what living in St. Kitts and being a Ross student is like. Awesome! Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

However, I just clicked on one of the links that has been sending a good deal of traffic this way, and I have to say that I was majorly disappointed by what I saw.

Among students who can't get into U.S. schools, there's a lot of agonizing over whether they should attend Ross or St. George's University. Each has their own ups and downs, and both are good schools that have AVMA accreditation and produce high quality vets. I can honestly say that I've never heard anyone at Ross putting down SGU or its students. The only time I hear it mentioned is someone talking about a friend that goes there, or as an option should they fail out of Ross.

So I was pretty startled when I read this thread and a bunch of SGU students were talking a ton of smack about Ross. They were repeating the same old conventional wisdoms about Devry and Ross that are tiny nuggets of truth surrounded by a lot of hoopla and exaggeration. Some of them got downright nasty.

Guys, we are all going to be future colleagues. The specialist you refer a patient to ten years from now may very well be a Ross graduate. Can you at least try to put aside your biases and act like a professional? Because talking trash on the internet about your peers? Not that classy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mega update.

Gah! Sorry, my approximately two dozen readers. I've been insanely busy. But I did get a ton of awesome pictures to share from Seattle.

First off, my externship was great. I got to do a lot of cool things, including watch an endoscopic enterotomy procedure. I placed the ET tube, catheter (okay, I blew two veins first - pigs have really tough skin), and monitored anesthesia for surgery. Then afterward I got to perform my first terminal (meaning fatal) heart stick while the pig was still anesthetized. I was planning on spaying her once she was dead, as well, but by that time it was noon and we'd been in surgery for four hours and I could tell that the techs wanted to take their lunch break. They couldn't leave me alone with a dead pig, unfortunately.

I have to say, the University of Washington's Comparative Medicine department has the best enrichment program for their lab animals I've ever seen. The dogs and pigs have extremely nuanced enrichments that are switched up on different days of the week to keep them interesting. The pigs even get rooting opportunities in ice, straw, wood shavings, etc! The rabbits get fresh fruit and vegetables. It's really impressive. I spoke with two of the members of the Environmental Enrichment Committee (yes, they have a freaking committee dedicated to just providing enrichment for their animals) and took notes, and got permission to take photos so I can put together a presentation when I get back to Ross.

Don arrived in Seattle on Friday and we spent the weekend sight-seeing and doing tourist-y type stuff. My favorite was definitely the Pike Place Market. The foodie in me was practically high the entire time.

The Space Needle.
Inside of the EMP museum.
Don playing the guitar in an exhibit at the EMP.
Scuba Santa at the Seattle Aquarium.
Moon jellies.
A mandarin dragonet. So pretty!
I thought the play of light here was really cool.
Fish market.
I may have eaten a pomegranate seed or five from the free sample.
Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Mmmm!
 We put together a Christmas dinner of some of the freshest, most gorgeous-looking ingredients I've seen in years that we purchased in the market. We bought rainbow trout filets, shallots, brussels sprouts and three different kinds of mushrooms. I made trout almondine, roasted veg with shallots and garlic, and cream of mushroom soup yesterday. It was incredible.

In other news, Don and I adopted a kitty the other day! He was our Christmas present to ourselves (and to him, really). His name is Roosevelt, and he's an absolutely enormous, dark grey, long-haired bear of a cat with bright yellow eyes. I can tell that his last owner must have been a man, because he's already very snuggly with Don but not so much with me.

Snuggling with dad.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Onward and upward!

Grades came out a little earlier today, and I'm officially a 7th semester! It's so hard to take that in. I cannot believe that in a few weeks I start my last semester on the island. Next semester begins live animal surgeries, clinical assignments, going away banquets, and saying goodbyes.

I know of one person we lost so far due to Small Animal Surgery.  Hopefully I won't find out about too many more.

Right now my husband and I are watching a terrible movie just because Nathan Fillion is in it, about to eat some homemade pizza (yup, I married a guy who can cook), and having ourselves a quiet night in. Tomorrow I pack up to fly out on Sunday to start my externship in Seattle.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dem bones!

We had a bone fracture repair lab yesterday where we placed pins and cerclage wire to stabilize oblique fractures on plastic femurs and tibias. My partners and I took a lot of photos, which must've looked funny to my other classmates. But I thought it was really cool.

Me placing an intramedullary pin through the long axis of the bone.

A screw pin being placed across the oblique fracture.

Laura, my lovely partner.

Cerclage wire being fitted over the screw pin and tightened to hold the fracture closed.
Laura and Vanessa holding our stabilized femur fracture with an IM pin, cerclage wire and an external fixator.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Asking for help.

Hey, I realize that I have very few readers, but I thought I'd give this a try...

A classmate of mine, Jonathan, is a Canadian student. Canadian students don't qualify for the student loans that American students do, so they must cover the cost of tuition at Ross solely through private loans. They must provide written documentation that they have sufficient funds guaranteed to cover their entire cost of education at Ross before they can be accepted.

I don't know what happened in Jonathan's case, why his funding got pulled or what the circumstances were, but I do know that the loans he thought he had secured are now no longer available to him. He's flat broke and no one will lend him any more money. Without funding, he'll have to drop out. We're in 6th semester, so close to the finish line, so I'm sure you can understand how gut-wrenchingly awful that feels.

Jonathan is a fantastic student. He studies hard, he makes good grades, he even puts together study guides for his classmates. He doesn't deserve this. He has tried many fundraising attempts - parties, a blog, etc. Nothing has managed to raise the funds that he requires. Please donate what you can, even if it's a few dollars. If nothing else it will help to cover his plane ticket to get him home.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Community service.

Today I was one of two students monitoring anesthesia for the Feral Cat Project, a trap-neuter-release program here on the island. My surgery team knocked out three spays and three neuters. The surgical assistant was one of my classmates. Dr. Bogdanovic did the first spay/neuter and then turned the surgeries over to her thereafter, while he watched and jumped in to assist if she needed. I really hope to get in on a spay day early next semester and knock a few of them out myself before starting live animal surgeries for a grade.

I was very pleased that I was not the least bit dizzy or faint! Usually I get a little woozy watching surgery. Either I got over that sometime since the last time I assisted with surgery, or the Rossie procedure has trained me to view the abdomen as layers of fabric.

Two weeks until finals! Let the stress begin! I'm going in strong with B's in all three of my classes. Many of my classmates are hurting, though. Small Animal Surgery is brutal and the class average right now is 74%. Since anything below 70% is failing, that means nearly half of the class is failing SAS. I feel bad for them, but very relieved that I'm not in the same boat.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Spay that bitch!


After waiting an agonizing 20 hours for my results, I found out at 9:30 this morning that I passed my ROSSie, the mock spay exam that makes all 6th semester students' bowels turn to water. It was a pretty nerve-wracking exam. Your evaluator basically stands there stoic and mute while you do the entire procedure. They also try to trip you up by throwing every surgical instrument under the sun into your pack so you have to go hunting for the correct instruments.

I was only penalized for two things:

1. I forgot to make a window in the broad ligament of my second ovarian pedicle. This is very easy to do because there's nothing there on the model, you just have to remember that something is supposed to be there. It's not easy when you're stressed out. I eventually did remember when I started on my uterine pedicle and gasped really loud and said, "Oh shit! I should've made a window in my broad ligament on that second pedicle before placing my carmalts!" Dr. Betance just nodded. It's good to acknowledge your errors, they go easier on you than if you don't notice you did something wrong.

2. I accidentally engaged a bit of dermis into my subcutaneous tissue closure on my first bite.

After a night of conjuring up approximately 5,000 things I did wrong, a board-certified surgeon only noticed two, very minor errors. I feel so relieved I could pass out.

The last round of blocks was Monday. I only have two test results back so far. I got an A on SAM II and a C on SAS. I'd feel bad about the surgery grade, but I passed, which is more than can be said for a large number of people in my class. It was a very brutal exam, with a 62% average score and one of my classmates even scored a 5/20. And this is not a slacker student. She likely studies harder than I do. Luckily that class is curved each semester.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Avast, me hearties!

My friend and Rossie practice partner Michelle's birthday was recently, so last Saturday we went on what we call a "rum run." Basically a group of people pile into an open air bus with a few coolers full of alcohol and drive around the island, dancing and singing. It was a lot of fun, but not something I'd do very often. I think I'm getting old, because by the end I had to pee badly and my ears felt like they were stuffed full of cotton from the volume of the music.

Our rum run was pirate-themed. Yarr!

Michelle is the one in the captain's hat next to the girl holding up the Jolly Roger.

I be a salty wench!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is this real life?

Just registered online for seventh semester. For those who are just tuning in, Ross students have pre-clinical semesters 1-7 on island and then a year (3 semesters) of clinical education back in the U.S. So I just registered for my final semester in St. Kitts.

Be right back, vomiting.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Don's visit.

My husband visited last week. I'm always amazed at how quickly and easily we pick right up, as though we haven't been apart for six months. He's the only person on earth who can make me laugh until I have tears streaming down my face and I can't make any sound except a hoarse wheeze. It's also wonderful having him here because I have someone who wants to be in the water and appreciates the ocean as much as I do. Here's some photos I took on one of our snorkeling trips. I wish I'd held on to the camera for a few more days (I borrowed it) for our White House trip, because the marine life on the wreck there was pretty amazing.

My baby.

West Indian sea urchin. Don't worry, this kind is safe to touch.

Red lip blenny.

Trumpet fish and an immature French angelfish.

Porcupine fish.

We also went on a night dive that was absolutely magical. It was scary, particularly when I lost sight of Don a few times. Your field of vision is extremely limited to just within the range of your flashlight. But it was incredible, too. We saw lots of turtles, lobsters and crabs. A very small hawksbill turtle swam right up to me and came within inches of touching me. At one point we all settled to our knees in a big circle in the sand and turned off our flashlights and waved our arms around like crazy. The bioluminescent plankton lit up around us like fireflies, and for a few moments all you could see was blackness and twinkling fairy lights.

Don left yesterday. Gonna miss him terribly, but we got in some good quality time. It helped to relax me considerably right before I take my Rossie in a week.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A whole lot of nothin'.

Not much to talk about. Blocks 2 and 3 came and went. I've done mediocre to good on them, but not excellent. It's difficult to maintain your usual grades on exams when you're studying for three of them simultaneously. Still, each class has a buffer, either through participation points or a history of being curved, so my chances of getting As are still very high.

My Rossie is in a couple of weeks. I feel like my colon is trying to crawl out of my mouth when I think about it. About a dozen people in my class have taken it so far, and I've seen about six "I PASSED!!!" Facebook statues. I'm guessing the lack of such a status is just as telling.

Don gets here in two days! I've been so distracted, I can barely think of anything else. Six months away from my husband is my limit, apparently. It's tough, it's really, really tough sometimes. This is the longest we've been apart since I moved down here.

I've scheduled a night dive for his visit. He was reluctant, because it is a bit more dangerous than a normal dive during the day. You don't swim around, you basically just sink to the bottom and hover there with a waterproof flashlight and watch as things swim around you. You do see some really cool things that only come out at night, and apparently a ton of turtles. I'm confronting two of my fears by doing this: fear of the dark and fear of not being able to see things in the water around me. It's sort of kooky, deliberately putting yourself into a situation you know will terrify you, but I'd rather face my fears in a controlled setting where I know I'm safe and other people are around to assist me if I freak out than in a situation that is completely unexpected.

Tomorrow is our semester's haunted house. I'm going to be baking cupcakes all night tonight for the cupcake decorating booth. Hopefully the kids will like what I'm doing. I'm making "rainbow" cupcakes in spooky Halloween colors (which I've made before, as pictured here), and mini chocolate cupcake "spiders" with legs of black licorice. Should be fun! I'll post lots of pics, of course.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


MJ got adopted! A friend who I've petsat for in the past adopted him yesterday. I just dropped him off at his new home an hour ago. He has a new kitty brother, and two doggie siblings. I think he'll do just fine there. He's a very high energy cat. A little too high energy for me and Mama.

A few (okay, a lot) of my favorite pics of him:

This is quite possibly my favorite picture of all time.