The content of this blog reflects my personal experiences and opinions during my veterinary school education. It does not reflect the experiences or opinions of my classmates, colleagues, or the UC Davis School of Veterinary medicine. If you wish to contact me via email: hamaleo11@gmail.com

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A New Blog - but leaving a great resource for prevets

I've since graduated from vet school - UC Davis class of 2014!!!
I've decided to start another blog about my life as a veterinarian, there are many great blogs out there! I will try to post at least once a month, but I'm sure I'll get busy.

Welcome to my new adventures - being a grown up Animal Doctor! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The light at the end of the tunnel is near!

Only 82 days left until I graduate from veterinary school! Everything has completely changed as far as my future is concerned. This year I have learned so much about myself and the field of veterinary medicine. I've also had to deal with the loop holes and jumping through hoops at a veterinary teaching hospital. This has helped me grow both personally and professionally. 


First, I PASSED my National Veterinary Board Exam! This was not a fun test, and I'm glad I'll never have to take it again! 

Second, I have decided to pursue and INTERNSHIP following graduation from veterinary school. It was a quick, but calculated decision that I believe will change my life - for the better of course. Mid-June I will begin a year long internship at VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona in Mesa (close to Phoenix). It is a small animal internship where I will rotate through emergency medicine, shelter medicine, general practice medicine and surgery! I am excited because I love all these things! I will be starting the program with six other intern mates, one from UC Davis and the rest from other veterinary schools in the US. I will be making my first big move to another state! Oh California how I will miss you and the ocean!

Third, I sent a card to one of my favorite authors, Dr. Nick Trout, and got a lovely email back full of inspiration. If you haven't read any of his books and you love animals - you should really read them! 

FOURTH, I adopted another cat, his name is Flash and he is the biggest sweetheart. He was part of the teaching cat colony at school, served his six months and will now enjoy the rest of his life being a spoiled house cat and friend to Simon. 

Next week, I begin my Anatomic Pathology rotation for 2 weeks! 12 weeks left! Here we go!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An End to the Blogging!

I want to thank everyone for reading my blog. I have decided to retire from blog posting and focus on the rest of my education and future career. I admire those who blog about their lives in veterinary medicine and will continue to follow their feeds. 

I look forward to my graduation on June 13, 2014 and starting my career in veterinary medicine. 

Maybe someday when I have the time I will begin blogging again or perhaps write a book! 

I am still more than willing to answer emails that are specific questions related to applying to veterinary school. Although I will not reply to those asking questions that can be answered by a thorough google search. I will also not answer veterinary medical advice emails. If you are seeking medical advice for your pet, you should be making an appointment with a veterinarian. 

I hope anyone wishing to apply to veterinary school thinks critically about their decision. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the profession, demands, and cost. 

I have enjoyed helping others and answering questions. I will leave my blog up as a resource for aspiring veterinarians. 

Good night and good luck! 

~ Kristina

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My final year of veterinary school: 276 Days....to go!

The other day as I was finishing my PM treatments in B-barn, I heard the sound of thunder. Really I thought, it was like 85 degrees today! How could there possibly be thunder? And then lightening lit up the inside of the whole barn! I stepped outside to feel rain for the first time this year (well since summer had started). As I looked up to the sky, I saw a rainbow. For me it was like the little bit of sunshine rising behind the clouds; the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. 

And not only that, it was a double rainbow! I have just finished my equine medicine rotation and it's already week 14/52! I'm currently on small animal anesthesia which I love. I've learned a lot so far and have amazing people to work with everyday. I feel like I'm growing as a person and as a vet everyday. I am so overjoyed and impressed with my classmates who go the extra mile to help each other out.

Today was the C4CC feral cat clinic and I spayed 9 cats! Including my first pregnant spay. All my surgeries went really well and I'm definitely improving my skills. I really look forward to my upcoming clinics and making it through my final year.
Everyday I think about what I want to do after vet school, sometimes it gets overwhelming and then I remember I have National boards to study for (which are in November) and that is even more overwhelming! Sigh, I try to have somewhat of a social life on top of long days and sometimes nights at school and with all the studying, but it's not easy. No one told me vet school was easy :)   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

UC Davis Summer Enrichment Program - Meeting a Blog Follower!

Last week I was on the cardiology rotation and I was waiting for an appointment on the couch in the hallway when I was approached by Stephanie. She was very excited to meet me since my blog had motivated her in her pursuit of veterinary medicine. She is from Puerto Rico and came to UC Davis to participate in the Summer Enrichment Program. Students in this program have the opportunity to obtain veterinary experience through rotations at our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Students are also provided resource materials for preparation of the GRE and study skills. They also meet daily to have presentations about careers in veterinary medicine as well as giving their own case presentations about what they've been learning in the hospital. 

Stephanie brightened my day, I had a little difficulty understanding her because of her lovely accent, when she first introduced herself I thought she said "I've read your blood" - which I was waiting for a patient's blood work to come back, so I was a little confused, but then she said "living my dream" and I was like oh...blog! 

I'm glad my blog can be helpful to others pursing veterinary medicine and I felt so happy for Stephanie to participate in this amazing program. I know she'll make a wonderful veterinarian and I hope to remain in communication with her.  

Stephanie & I in the cardiology exam room

Links to the UC Davis summer enrichment program: 




Thursday, July 4, 2013

RAVS Trip to Guatemala 2013: Serving Equines & Their People

Disclaimer: this blog post reflects my own personal opinion & experiences, it does NOT reflect that of HSVMA-RAVS or anyone else. These photos are my personal photos from the trip.

The beginning of my senior year started out with a bang! After parting ways with my classmates after final exams, my LAST final exams! I headed to Guatemala on externship with HSVMA-RAVS under the leadership of Dr. David Turoff. 

Dr. Turoff has always been my horse vet, he's known me since I was a six year old horse-crazy kid. He has always been there for me as a mentor on my road to veterinary school and I really have him to thank for helping me get where I am today, beginning my 4th year of veterinary school and having the opportunity to participate on the Guatemala trip. 

After an entire day of traveling (3 flights and 2 long layovers, we arrived in Flores, Guatemala. We stayed one night on an island located on Lago Petén Itzá, connected to land by a causeway. The next day we gathered supplies left from last year and organized and integrated everything we had brought in preparation for field work.

A mare and foal in the Guatemalan countryside
Our work area was vast, consisting of many small villages along the Rio Mopan in the Penten region of Guatemala near the Belize border. According to Dr. Turoff, "there are currently no veterinary services available in this region, making our trip invaluable to the horses and people that live here. Body condition scores and general overall health of the animals has improved noticeably over the last four years since HSVMA-RAVS starting coming here."  

Our team consisted of three North American veterinarians, a Guatemalan veterinarian, a veterinary student from Norway, a pre-veterinary student from Guatemala, and a farrier from California.
A little rain won't stop us!

A humane method of restraint
We provided veterinary care to horses and mules, we rarely saw a donkey. We provided Rabies and Tetanus vaccination as well as ivermectin de-wormer to every patient. We also performed castrations, dentistry and attended to various wounds we were presented with such as wither wounds from improper loading or saddle fitting and foreign bodies - such as branches. And our farrier did lots of foot work including showing the local horse owners how to properly trim and rasp a hoof. He even brought a lot of "used" rasps to give away to the people who made a sincere effort to learn how to trim and actually got under their own horses. I was amazed at his ability to interact with the people although he spoke little Spanish, his enthusiasm was contagious.
The whole town watching us perform a castration

Each day we visited a new town, many of which the RAVS team had been to before, except La Polvora which was a new work site. Getting to each town provided our driver a true challenge as most roads are not paved there and full of water crossings. I give our driver true credit for driving our van on some of these roads I wouldn't feel comfortable on without a four wheel drive.  

Towns we visited: Cruzadero, Nuevo Modelo, El Rondon, La Polvora, Los Encuentros

Most fences were made out of trees and barbed wire
I really enjoyed the trip and got a lot of hands-on experience  anesthetizing and castrating horses in the field. The company couldn't have been better, I'm glad some of their experience and wisdom rubbed off on me. When I got home, I felt nothing but humble - respect for those that live life much different from me. I experienced a welcoming culture that still rely on horses for their livelihood as well as close-knit family ties. I really felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. I felt like we made a difference, a dent in what needs to be done for the animals there. 

I really hope two of the Guatemalans we were traveling with are able to be a steady force there and provide veterinary care. Ideally a self-sustaining veterinary presence available to the areas we practiced in would lead the future of veterinary care for the animals we serve. 

I was trying to think about how to blog about how traveling makes me feel and I stumbled across the following that explains it pretty clearly: Why Traveling Will Make You A Better Person

 Mules are said to be more expensive than horses in Guatemala because they are more hardy

Dr. Turoff's Blog Posts from 2013 Trip to Guatemala (this year's trip)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Help for Pre Vet - Specific Issues - The Nitty Gritty

I recently got some questions from a Pre-Vet that were pretty specific and I don't think they are the only one out there wanting to know my answers to these questions, so I thought I would share. Some are about life balance and very general, while others discuss the application process and getting experience.

Q1: Transition from community college to university 

As a transfer student myself, I know first hand how the transition from community college to university can be difficult and overwhelming. I would recommend to anyone doing this to actively seek your school counselors (at both schools) and other resources. Make sure you plan ahead. I signed a transfer agreement to get into UC Davis and that took a lot of the pressure off my shoulders. In California, you can use assist.org to help you figure out what classes transfer. Along the way you need to map out your classes and figure out an ideal class load that works for you. I took 5 years to complete my undergraduate education because I took a ton of extra classes at community college to make sure I knew what I wanted to do. Here are some general tips
Q2: Maintaining confidence and self worth 
Have you ever heard of the imposter syndrome? If not, you need to read about it! It doesn't matter how well we individually do, we'll probably never feel like we're good enough. We hold up this warped mirror to ourselves, and see only the mistakes and the setbacks. It would be nice to just walk away from that feeling, to silence the little voice that says 'stupid and worthless,' to acknowledge that it's not right. Another link.

Q3: Doubt about getting into veterinary school
This is a problem we all have! Also associated with imposter syndrome above. You just have to do your best and be proud of yourself. 
What defines what we are doing well enough? Volunteer work/research/classes/grades
I think the only thing that defines you is YOU! You need to check in with yourself and see how you feel inside about all these things. For example, GRADES...ya, they are necessary, just because I got a few C's in undergrad didn't mean I wouldn't get into veterinary school, just because I had to repeat a few exams in veterinary school doesn't mean I won't be a good vet. Really, I'm not a great test taker, but in the real practical world, I excel. You define YOURSELF.

Q5: My Experience hours before vet school – paid vs. volunteer, diversity of experiences - does it matter? 
Ultimately it doesn't matter how you acquire the experience (paid vs. unpaid) - but you should have a diversity. Many of my classmates had little experience in some areas (with horses for example) - but it didn't mean they didn't get in, so get experience in whatever field of veterinary medicine you want to enter so you will have an idea what the outlook for that sector is like. A chance to get your hands dirty so to speak. 

Q6: Do they look at experience between your application and the interview?
Do they assume that more and more experience hours will be sought after from the time of the application until admittance? Or is it one of those things where you better have the majority of your stuff at the time of the application?   
With the new way UC Davis interviews applicants, I'm not sure. I think they look at your application only after you submit it. Check out the School's interview process for specifics, if you have a 1 on 1 interview, you can likely discuss your experience between the time of application and interview. I was able to at Davis, but like I said they have changed the interview process. More info on MMI interviews.
Q7: Best advice for the application process 
Start EARLY! It takes a long time to fill out the application - even if you're not applying this year, create a log-in and navigate the website. You will see how much detail they want. They do want you to log all your "animal experience" hours. You could even do a test run and print your application for the following year to assist yourself in the application process, but I wouldn't say that is necessary.
Q8: Text anxiety 
Well, I'm a prime example for this one. My anxiety grew over the years and well, lets just say, it's not easy to deal with. There are resources at most universities to help you deal with this, I think you just need to find what works for you and you can really alleviate some of the anxiety by preparing adequately for a test, being organized and having effective study strategies in place. This can be difficult to accomplish in veterinary school. I find peace in that the one exam I am anxious about will only be for that place in time, i.e. none of my future clients/employers are going to suddenly pull out a test I got a C in and wave it in my face or torment me, what matters is that I pass and I know how to apply the material. Also for some reason for me, making sure my feet are planted flat on the ground during an exam (not crossed or twitching) really helps! And deep breaths. Definitely a change in attitude helps - try to have a positive outlook. 
Resources: http://www.studygs.net/tstprp8.htm
Q9: As a student whose interested in captive breeding research, and zoological medicine, where do you recommend I look for some great volunteer/research opportunities for this specific field of interest?

Of course wild life rescues and zoos will teach you a lot. There is so much research at/through UC Davis. And you could check out the marine mammals lab near Bodega Bay. I don't know much specifically than that, but I am sure google will help!

Q10: Is it okay to wait and submit it at the end of august so I can have more experience available to note and to write about in my personal statement? Or is it best to get it in as fast as possible? 

They don't begin looking at applications that are submitted early. I believe they wait until all applications are submitted to start going through them, so I don't think you'll have an advantage submitting it early. Take your time, make sure the application is complete and strong. I would note all your summer experience.
Q11: Should I only apply to 3 schools? 
You should only apply to the schools that you would go to. I.e. if you don't want to live in Florida or could not stand to live in Florida for FOUR years, don't even try! I only applied to UC Davis cause I really didn't want to go anywhere else.  So it doesn't really matter how many you apply to, although it will increase your odds, but each school can't see how many other schools you applied to, so keep that in mind.

Q12: How do I go about getting LOR without sounding like an idiot? And who should I ask?
This is a great question! I looked back to see if I addressed this in my blog past, but the only thing I found was a blog post on tips on finding a mentor. Letters of recommendation are VERY important when applying to US schools. I agree it is awkward to ask for letters, but entirely necessary. I usually say, "I have enjoyed working with you these past few years, and I really think you have a valuable opinion on my goals, as well as my strengths and weaknesses. I am applying to veterinary school and I would be honored if you would so kindly write me a letter of recommendation." It is also important to emphasize the question, "would you be able to provide me a STRONG letter of reference?" This will root out the people you may not want to write your letter. And best advice is to ask as early as possible! It takes time to compose a good letter. And offer to provide them with resources, like lists of your past experiences, your personal statement, etc.