Ding Ding- Year 2!

Well I can’t quite believe that I made it into the second year but I have to say that my prediction last time I spoke to you has most definitely come true – the second year IS much harder! It is assumed that you know everything that was taught last year by heart!

This term we took a second, more in-depth, visit to the Cardiovascular, Lymphoreticular (immunity) and Urogenital (renal) systems. All of this was interspersed with lectures from the Principles of Science Strand and of course the ‘soft skills’ of Professional Studies (i.e. how to talk to people!). In the Principles of Science strand we were introduced to pharmacology and the basics of drug therapies, pathology, bacteriology, antimicrobials and some work on the Endocrine system.

Cardiovascular took a logical order to things starting with embryology and fetal circulation and moving onto how the heart works and how many other body systems cooperate with the cardiovascular system to maintain a healthy status quo (or homeostasis).

Since the RVC overhauled its curriculum a couple of years ago it has become much more focused on teaching subjects in a more integrated way. What I mean by this is that whilst we were taking our second look at the systems covered this term we were also introduced to some other related subjects. For example we also looked at some of the pathology of when and how things go wrong and some drugs used for treating the affected body systems. This is a much more effective way of teaching some very different subjects, which can be difficult to relate to each other. By teaching us about them in context it makes it easier to relate disease (how things go wrong) with treatments (how they work). It used to be a lot harder for students before the updated curriculum as drugs and pathology would have been taught as separate subjects in perhaps a different term or even a different year of the course. This meant having to remember all the anatomy and functions of each body system as and when they came up in pathology or pharmacology! I can’t imagine even trying!

I have to say that I have found the physiology of the renal system and all the pharmacology particularly difficult to get to grips with. I have always been better at the anatomy than the physiology side of biology as I’m a very pragmatic, hands-on type of person, so I find a little bit more work is necessary to understand the detail and to visualise chemicals, receptors and the like. Throughout the term lectures have been complemented by practicals in the laboratory for bacteriology and the dissection room where we saw examples of the renal system and exotic species (fish, birds and small furries) anatomy in situ.

Can I just state here and now that EVERYTHING under a microscope in histology looks the same to me! All I see are pink and purple things on a slide! I’m sure it is just a case of practice makes perfect.

Since the start of the second year we have also seen a number of key members of staff move on from the RVC. We said a fond farewell to David Kilroy, Stephen Frean, Jo Price and Allan Williams. Many of these well respected lecturers have their own fan groups on Facebook as they are simply the best at what they do – teaching! Their replacements have some very big boots to fill and even bigger expectations to meet from the students who knew their predecessors- good luck to them all!

For all that has happened this last term I have to say that the highlight was assisting on a Chihuahua caesarean at my friends’ vet practice 3 days before Christmas! It was simply amazing, 3 of the tiniest puppies I have ever seen were all successfully ‘born’, 2 boys and 1 girl were all healthy and a very surprised but happy mum was relieved of her heavy ‘bump’.

Well I have to go and make a phone call to a Water Buffalo farmer to arrange a couple of weeks of free labour I’m sure he’ll jump at. I truly love the AHEMS (Animal Husbandry Extra Mural Studies) part of the course as we get to see all the ‘stuff’ in practice. It’s a weird paradox though that for a farmer something like calving is a nervous time when he is praying all will go well but for me as a vet student I’m secretly hoping that we’ll have to get involved just because I love getting stuck in down on the farm!


Till next time, take care of yourselves and your animals!



Year 2, Term 2

So, two thirds of the way through the second year and I think my head is going to explode! I can’t believe the amount of information that we have been given this term. I squarely lay the blame for the hysterical panic that I’m currently in on PARASITOLOGY! I will NEVER remember the lifecycle stages, names (common and Latin), body systems and the different species affected by more than 50 different tapeworms, roundworms, fleas, ticks, lice, mites and flies! Add on top of this all the muscle names for the limbs and you can begin to see why I am convinced I will be a regular at the re-sits this September!

Don’t get me wrong there have been highlights this term too. Dermatology was a surprise I have to say. I mean come on, it even sounds boring – dermatology! But I was pleasantly surprised at just how amazing ‘the envelope of life’ really is! It is the largest, living, breathing organ found in (or should that be on?) the body. As I have mentioned in previous articles the people teaching can make all the difference to a subject and the dermatologists were fantastic! Other highlights this term included learning about nerve blocks on horse’s feet – fascinating. Tendons, the spine, cartilage and osteoarthritis were all areas I really enjoyed this term too.

I have always loved Labradors and so you can imagine how carefully I was listening to the orthopaedic surgeon who taught us about cartilage development, hip and elbow dysplasia and osteoarthritis. As Labradors are probably the breed most affected by these conditions I was wide eyed and listening extra carefully. We had a fantastic practical on the spine – all I can say is look after yours because you only get one and surgeons can only do so much for such an intricate and complicated structure.

On the last day of term we were surprised to learn that we were expected to gather data for our Year 2 AHEMS Research Project over the Easter break! Thanks for the heads up guys! Well I did manage to get my research title sorted and the data is being collected as we speak – hopefully!

It was also the RVC’s Zoological Society’s Symposium this term and it was great. A whole day of guest speakers who were all great but I have to say my favourite was Allan Knight the founder of International Animal Rescue . He spoke about the fact that his charity, along with Wildlife SOS, has made possible the end of dancing bears on the streets of India! This is amazing considering this barbaric act was actually made illegal in India in 1972 but has continued for over 30 years! He was a very engaging speaker who spoke passionately about the causes his charity supports across the World. Visit the website for information about volunteer opportunities with International Animal Rescue.

Over the Easter break I did an AHEMS placement on a farm which had Water Buffalo. The only difference I can see is that they are much more ‘in-tune’ with their wild instincts! When in a small pen, I definitely didn’t feel as comfortable as I do around regular cows! Particularly when they have horns and know exactly how to use them! Milton, the bull, is huge and has a very evil stare! Actually 2 nuggets of information you may find interesting is that 1) unlike normal cow species Water Buffalo horns have a good blood supply (to assist in thermoregulation), and 2) they only have 3 stomach compartments compared to the usual 4 seen in other cows! The farm also had free range Berkshire pigs, which was a very welcome change from the intensive pig farm I attended last summer. Some were in large enclosures in wooded areas and thank goodness the farm had a quad bike to get to them as it was a tad muddy!

Next term is a quiet one on the teaching front with only 3 weeks of lectures then we have to do a number of poster presentations. Plus lots of revision is needed – and of course I’ll let you know how the dreaded exams go as soon as I know – but please keep everything crossed for me!

Anyhoo, I have to do some revision now, so until next time take care of yourselves and your animals.