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The year 2020 presented us with legendary times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prevail, like the graduating class of veterinary students has. To celebrate their accomplishments, we asked graduating vet students to share their most legendary stories from vet school. Here are their legendary tales.

Nada Blagojevic | University Of Adelaide – South Australia

I was at placement earlier in February this year, where a dog had come in for routine radiographs to be taken of its metacarpal joints. I was the monitor within the group of 3 of us, which comprised of myself, the head vet/clinic owner, and a registered vet nurse. The vet had provided some sedation using a combination of Ketamine and Diazepam, and I, therefore, began my monitoring of vital signs. Heart rate was sound, so was respiratory effort and rate…. within me putting my stethoscope down and writing the values down on the chart, the nurse lifted the dog’s gums only to realize they were WHITE! I rechecked the heart and lungs…. no heart rate… no respiratory rate…. my brain had that “light bulb” moment and I jumped into cardiac compressions!!! The vet listened to the heart and confirmed a cardiac arrest. Whilst the vet was getting the ET tube, the nurse began providing oxygen and getting reading to intubate and place and IV catheter – I had successfully continued cardiac compressions and revived the dog!!! You could imagine the sweaty and nervous mess I was after the incident, but my efforts had not gone unnoticed… the clinic offered me a job once I graduate and the following week I received a letter of recommendation. I cry every time I think about the scenario and at that moment realized how much I enjoy emergency and critical care, which is now propelling me down the pathway of becoming an ECC vet.

Sabrina Cooper | Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

In vet school, I became a real-life sea turtle whisperer slash mermaid slash barracuda taunter. My partners in crime, Ciara Peace and Taylor Tvede and I went out every weekend to catch, evaluate and release sea turtles for population assessment research in collaboration with the in-water team of the St Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network and the Department of Marine Resources. At one point, I was chasing a 40+lb hawksbill sea turtle down and two of my teammates had slowed down because a 3-4 FOOT LONG BARRACUDA was chasing me! After that, I always made sure to look over my shoulder so I could face down my enemies.

All sea turtles were handled with the utmost care and respect and released back into the water as soon as possible.

Biggest catch: 106 lb green sea turtle

Smallest catch: 3-4 lb hawksbill sea turtle

Over 100 leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtle hatchlings rehabilitated in my bathroom and released into the ocean.

(My island vet school legacy)

Montana Campbell | Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

I first met Caity in college and we quickly became fast friends, often joking we would, “drag each other over the finish line” of vet school applications, senior year finals and graduation, even if it killed us. We were overjoyed to complete this goal and even more so when we found out we would both be attending the same veterinary school. Our motto was quickly reinstated as we motivated each other to spend extra time in the formalin filled anatomy lab, or note taking in the library. Through the best and worst of it all, we were always there for each other. Many friends joke they have their “ride or die”, but Caity literally is my ride or die. No, really- we almost died getting to class one day.

I feel as though I should preface this story with a few details. The first of which being that the zipper on Caity’s backpack was broken and was being held together by a handful of safety pins. The second, is that in the past during my days of field research, I was quite well acquainted in working during lightning storms, but I was not prepared for this. Lastly, it never rained for more than 10 minutes on St. Kitts, until this day.

I remembered looking at my clock several times throughout the night, the last of which was around midnight. I also vaguely remembered how annoying it was that thunder was in my dream, and how I was just trying to sleep when the house rattled when a biblical “BOOM” filled every crevice of my room. In a groggy half sleep state I realized it was only 4:00 am and attempted to salvage what little rest I had, as I slipped into a half-dream state. I was awoken once again by what sounded like the side of the mountain falling off and wondered in Mt. Liamuiga had emerged from her dormant state. I also realized my fan had stopped, which meant the power was out. The thunder continued to emanate over the house every 5 minutes and abandoning any sleep I had left, grabbed my phone to call Caity.

We came to the conclusion that campus must have power, and to meet outside in one hour, hopefully the rain would let up by then. Thankfully at this time, the rain had let up to a gentle patter and cloud lighting flickered every few minutes. It was as I closed the front gate to the yard that a thunder crack and huge streak of white-purple lighting illuminated the sky above the mountains to my left. Terror enveloped me and I scampered down the street to the corner, realizing at this time I was holding an umbrella as my soaked socks made “squish-squash” sounds from the street run-off. Ready and waiting across the street was Caity. As we began to greet each other for the morning, another clap of thunder and lightning bolt replaced our words and we simultaneously ran towards campus.

“I’m worried about the safety pins!” Caity yelled from next to me.

“Why? Are you afraid they’re going to fall out?” I asked as our bags thumped against our backs.
“No! But what if the attract the lightning?”

“What?” I panted and laughed as we reached our halfway mark, “Caity, I’m holding an umbrella I think that may carry a greater risk.”

“Well I-AAAHHH!”

Our screams met in unison as we felt and heard the ear-splitting thunder above our heads. It was as if someone was physically ripping open the sky, leading to a great crescendo and the fissure of the clouds was almost tangible as the largest lighting bold we’d ever seen pulsated from cloud to cloud and blinded us with it’s brilliance. I hadn’t realized this at the time, but I had instinctively sprinted a short distance and crouched closer to the ground, I only realized this when Caity ran up from behind be, gripped my hand and pulled me with the speed of an olympian. “You hid under a tree?! Are you SERIOUS!” She screamed as my legs caught up with my body. The rain had now resumed to full force as it plastered the hair to our faces and soaked us through. Again, another thunder roll rumbled ominously behind us, “Montana!”

Caity screeched as she covered her head with her lunchbox. “RUN, CAITY!” I screamed as I gripped her hand tighter as our feet pounded the puddles along the road and sprayed muddy water against our legs. In what seemed like a miracle we had arrived at the gate to campus, exhausted and breathless. “Oh my God, if this is how I go, I go.” Caity gasped. I waved my ID to the guard who waved me through without a second thought from the safety of his station. “Come on we’re nearly there,” I said as City fumbled for her ID behind me, “I swear I go here!” Caity yelled over as the guard shook his head and waved her through, turning away to hide the laughter at the sight of us. We then quickly realized we had another obstacle before us now. The maintenance road we usually cut through to get to the classroom was completely flooded with brown, murky water, all the way up the top of the curb which was a generous 7 inches tall. The drainage ditch on the other side was also completely full. I don’t know how deep the ditch was, but in more forgiving weather, it wasn’t uncommon for students passing by to pull the nearby farmer’s curious goat kid out of there. Caity and I are no gymnasts, but somehow we avoided falling off that curb. A sigh of relief overcame us as we met the pavement on the other side and entered the student union, surely a cup of coffee and breakfast would help ease this matter. A grim, “dammit” from Caity quickly put that thought to rest. “I really wanted a donut,” She muttered. After that debacle, we could have used half a dozen donuts each. We may have almost died, but Caity knows where breakfast priorities are at.

While in the more literally sense of Caity and I pulling each other to the finish line that day, we continued to do so for the rest of our time on the island. To say the day we left the island to continue our clinical year education was sad is a massive understatement. My ride and die was departing for Dublin, and I to Gainesville. It would be the first time since college we hadn’t been together. We held onto the glimmer of happiness that at graduation, we would make up for all the lost time and have great experiences with the rest of our friends. Graduation was so much more than achieving our dreams, it was what we all thought our last chance to reconnect in person one last time before life called us to different parts of the world again. It may not be the ending we envisioned, but we made it. To the finish line together.

Estefania Colon | Tuskegee University

One of our traditions was to celebrate each other birthdays and take group pictures. Here are the badass August-born babies of the Tuskegee University Class of 2020!! We are strong, confident, and funny. We always made our classmates laugh and had a good time. Now, we are ready to conquer the veterinary field and show the world what we are made of.

Morgan Shaver | Iowa State University

Brought Rudolph the Reindeer back from the brink of death from a Theleiria Infection! After two blood transfusions and countless treatments, he’s still alive today! Not every day you get to help save Christmas!

Sarah Greenway | Kansas State University

Got pulled over for speeding while coming home from replacing a uterine prolapse. Arms, face, and clothes covered in blood, sitting on a trash bag in the car. Got interrogated by the small-town cop on where I had come from and what I’d been doing/who I was with, and had to give a lecture on the anatomy, physiology, and repair of uterine prolapse to a guy who’s high school probably didn’t allow the reproductive portion of anatomy class to be taught.

Alternatively, there was the time when I was externing with Cody and I found a trichobezoar on a postmortem and was told to keep it and start a collection. I put it in my rental car and forgot to take it out when I returned the car. I can only imagine what must’ve been going through the head of whoever cleaned the car later.

Austin Whitmon | Mississippi State University

One night on equine my best friend (Gianna Covelli) and I were dealing with a colic horse when one of the equine surgery residents spills some information about 7 rescue horses coming to board at the school for a week so we can do all their necessary work before moving on to a new home. The resident specifically told us not to stir up anything, just to let our rotation-mates know, because we were going to have to have students to take them as patients. So Gianna and I decided to prank our equine rotation by telling everyone that we were getting 7 wild mustangs from a mustang rescue out of North Dakota. We even went as far as finding an actual mustang rescue, which had pictures of random horses listed. We sent the information And pictures to our 10 other rotation-mates and waited for the chaos to ensue, which it did. Some people were mad, others began claiming their new ‘stands. Then someone asked why the horses needed to be rescued from a rescue, so we tried to evade answering any more questions as we figured folks would catch on. The next morning in rounds one of the equine surgeons is glaring at me across the rounds room table, and I’m scared but I thought, I didn’t do this alone, I can’t go down alone. She hollers out, “SOMEONE STARTED A RUMOR that we were getting wild mustangs – AUSTIN!” I immediately threw my best friend under the bus with me by saying, “Well Gianna helped too!” I never thought Gianna or I were psychic, but that afternoon a cattle trailer, hauling 7 wild horses pulled into the back compound of the vet school, barbed wire in-tangled manes and all. One of the equine doctors looked at us and said, “How did y’all know?” Guess you could say we are good guessers and maybe how we made it through this thing called vet school. Here’s to the good days and may our futures be filled with more tales. PS the photo is blackmail, as food and drink aren’t allowed in the hospital, let alone the stall.

Carley Wigley | Mississippi State University-College of Veterinary Medicine

“Get Mad at It”

Background:

This is a story from my 3rd year as a vet student, 1st clinical year, 3rd clinical rotation. This incident happened on Necropsy during my 1st week out of 4.

Vibe:

It was after 5 pm on a Friday, several large animal necropsies were completed as well as a few small animals, the necropsy floor had been cleaned, it was now hour number 2 spent on our last task of the day- getting the brain out of a ~70 lb. Hereford bull skull.

The brand new resident on the necropsy floor was uncomfortable using power tools to assist in getting this brain out, and the necropsy technicians and student workers had left for the day. A couple of the students on rotation with me, including myself, had the luxury of growing up on farms, so we were accustomed to using all kinds of equipment, including power tools. BUT, as students, we were not allowed to use them without a head clinician present.

We had been working on this skull for HOURS, and the entire group was not allowed to leave until the brain was out of this skull. About 2/3rds of the students had given up and were just talking in a group. Myself and 2 other students hadn’t given up and were tirelessly working to get it done so we all could leave and go home. We had broken a T-tool and a mallet on this skull so far.

I thought to myself “what is something my dad would say in a situation like this”…”GET MAD AT IT”

Well, I remember one of the necropsy technicians that had been working on the necropsy floor for over 20 years would take equine skulls and bang them on the floor just at the right angle in order to get the brain out when the hand tools weren’t working- ah ha! I had found the solution, I was finally going to get the brain out of this bull’s skull. Little did I know that this skull was entirely too big, thick and heavy for that to even make a dent in the task at hand. Well, I got mad at it anyway and threw the skull on the sealed concrete floor. It ricocheted back onto my left hand…at first, I thought it just dislocated my index finger but in fact, it had fractured my entire 2nd metacarpal bone in a spiral pattern. I didn’t think much of it at the moment and just got even more frustrated. Finally, a 3rd-year resident ended up having to get called in so that power tools could be used to get the brain out of that bull’s skull.

The next morning my entire left hand was 3x the normal size and was a purplish-green color. I went to my local emergency doctors office and spent my entire Saturday retelling the story of how I fractured my hand; at one point I had 4-5 people standing around after I had radiographs taken listening to the story because no human nurse or doctor had ever heard such a story and knew there was no way a story like mine could be made up.

I ‘broke’ my first bone in vet school and learned a valuable lesson that day, never get mad at a bull skull, you’ll break your damn hand.

Christina Kaye | Tuskegee University

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve always known I had a passion for animals and wanted to become a veterinarian. I attended Rutgers University and majored in animal science. It was during undergrad that I got to work at a specialty center and where I realized I loved veterinary ophthalmology. After graduating from Tuskegee University in May 2020 (virtually), I will be starting a small animal rotating internship and begin my journey on the path to becoming a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Catie Mullen | Iowa State University

Hey! I’m Catie, and I will soon be entering the world of veterinary medicine as Dr. Catie Mullen, DVM (or Dr. Cate, per my Instagram). I have a passion for small animal general practice and my dream is to advise colleagues and clients about veterinary nutrition (and get paid to do it!).

My family moved around a lot when I was growing up, but I have been a proud resident of Iowa for the last 15 years. I am the oldest of 4 kids, and I am the first person in my family to pursue getting a doctorate and also to get into any aspect of veterinary medicine.

Fun fact: I adopted 4 animals while in vet school (1 cat, 2 rats, and 1 puppy)

Katelyn Jones | University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

This is kind of a badass story I’m proud of. A pet came in and, long story short, during her spay, had her ureters tied off accidentally bilaterally. She was close to death. We took her up to surgery and placed bilateral ureteral stents, little tubes in her ureters to connect her kidneys to her bladder again. This is a surgery I would have NEVER imagined I could be a part of. A story I thought I’d never been able to tell happily. I watched her continue to not only recover but thrive. I checked on her countless times a day and would come in from home to love on her. Amazingly, she went home. Her foster family adopted her. When she came in for her recheck visits, I was able to be a part of them. She recognized me as soon as I walked in the room and would run up to me. My heart was so full and, it was at that moment, I realized this is why I love what I do. I realized we are all smarter than we think we are and are capable of so much. Our amazing team was able to save this little one’s life. I’ll never forget this story, those moments, or my experiences, both the highs and lows, in vet school.

Rachel Courville | University of Missouri

In October of my 2nd year of vet school, I came home after finishing my very last final of the block! I crashed on my bed for a nap and a few minutes later my roommate knocked on my door. She was a 3rd-year vet student who also just finished finals and she said: “Rachel come outside you need to see this”. So still half asleep I came downstairs and said: “see what?” She goes “there was just a pig right here!”

*looks around my suburban townhouse neighborhood with no pig in sight*

I think (no I know) she’s lost it and is in some sort of finals-induced delirium. And she’s like “just wait for a minute, it’ll come back”.

And sure enough, guess what comes trotting around the corner of a townhouse five minutes later?! A 150-pound potbellied pig!

For a moment I was convinced I was also hallucinating until I realized, nope this is 100% real, and what the hell are we going to do with this pig?!

Well, we had no garage to put it in, so I grabbed my extra long dog leash and MacGyvered a harness for it so we could at least keep it from running into the street. And after calling several of our attending clinicians to ask what the hell to do with a perfectly healthy stray potbellied pig, we called animal control.

And after 2 hours of waiting (and taking selfies with the pig we lovingly named Smedi) animal control finally rolls up and proceeds to attempt to wrangle this pig into the truck in the dark.

Then suddenly, a long-haired shadowy figure emerged from the dark woods. A hippie man shaking a bag of grain saunters over to us and says “Ahh! There’s ma’ girl!” And the animal control officer says “Hey man I thought this might be your pig!” And my roommate and I are like… “Wait… you two know each other?!”

Hippie guy scoops up this pig-like it’s a baby and disappears back into the woods.

Turns out this guy was a repeat stray-pig-owning offender and used religious exemption loopholes just so he could keep a pig within city limits.

My roommate and I went back to the house, popped open a bottle of wine, and tried to figure out what the hell just happened.

The end.

Elena Sarmiento | De La Salle Araneta University, Philippines

Hi! I’m Elena or Snowie (my nickname). Like any vet, I super love animals from domestic to wild. It has been a rollercoaster ride during my veterinary school days and the ride just ended this year but not what I expected it to be (no graduation) But! Great (sometimes bad) memories were still made! And yet to come. A legendary story I could share was when I was treating a limping tiger cub. We have this saying in our vet school, the more collection of bites you have from different animals, the more experience you have or the braver you are. Hence my legendary story begins. My veterinary supervisor asked me to massage and put ointment to treat the cub’s limping leg. While massaging him, he suddenly bit my arm leaving a bite mark! So far this is the best battle bite mark I have from my collection.

Sam Lambert | Tufts University

Here are me and my classmate Andrew doing a bit of offroading with Buddha on the way to class. Also, attached is an epic example of how not to get your sample to the lab.

View the entire event here:

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