October 6, 2012

Week 1 (almost) Complete

Things I got to do this week:

  • Blood draws
  • Bloodwork
  • Lots of radiographs
  • IV set up and maintenance
  • Using the computer system
  • Stocking
  • Fecal, Urine and Ear cytology analysis
  • Ultrasound
  • Euthanasia set up
  • Syringe Pumps
  • Doppler (blood pressure)
  • Drug calculation and administrations
  • Maintenance of oxygen chambers
  • Adding medications to a fluid bag
  • Gave medication to a dog to induce vomitting in a doberman that ate some socks
  • Scrub in for surgery

Things I got to witness:

  • An ultrasound specialist draw fluid out and away from the heart of a kitty
  • The euthanasia of three orphaned kittens who were only weeks old and covered in maggots
  • Big worms from a stray Beagle :/
  • The removal of a femoral head and a seroma (puss filled pocket)
  • How quickly vomitting medication can work
  • How quickly sedatives can work
  • Cystocentesis (removal of urine from the bladder using a needle and syringe) using a ultrasound to guide it

And most importantly, I've learned how I finally got it right, I'm in the right field, and I've picked a phenomenal hospital to learn at!!  I'll update later!

October 1, 2012

First Day at the Clinic (Internship)

Wellllllllll!  Today was my first day interning at the clinic.  I was so nervous on the way up I literally thought I was going to puke.  I had dreams last night of missing my alarm, showing up two hours EARLY (weird, right?), a dream i forgot how to get on the interstate.. and a dream my scrubs didn't fit...even though I had tried them on in the store before I bought them.  Nerves can do a lot to a person!

The best part is, I had NOTHING to worry about.  Everyone at the clinic is super helpful, and you can tell they are constantly training (interns and each other).  Everyone is very good about explaining what they're doing, and I got to see a lot of cool stuff.

I got to see a nasogastric tube, helped with digital x-rays, meds, the computer system, "rounding" (which is just meeting with the people from the previous shift to get the low down on each of the animals), TPR's and using a "doppler" (basically a ultrasonic method of monitoring blood pressure), and little things like how to detach an IV so we can take the dog outside.

Everyone works together really well and I can't wait to head back up tomorrow.

Best part is I get to wear my own scrubs!

September 7, 2012

Recap #5725


Let's do some recapping, again ;)

Classes this Quarter

Career Capstone - A class focusing on building resumes, cover letters, and the entire job application process, including a mock interview.

Equine - a class working with horses.  It's not bad, just a whole new topic and something I've never spent much time with.

Production Animals - for this class, we go to a large Dairy Farm every other week.  I've learned so many new things.. and got to try SO many new things including castration, dehorning, DA surgery, IV infusions, rectal and vaginal exams, and much much more.

Application of Clinical Skills ("Dentistry") - For this class we do a big review of many topics including emergency care, wound management, bandaging, and we learn a new topic - Dentistry.  We learn how to clean and polish teeth, chart formally and other things.

Big, BIG News!

In October, I will be beginning an internship!! I have secured my location at the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in Oakdale and St. Paul.  I began the process a couple months ago by talking with one of my instructors who works up there.  I talked with Career Services and put together my resume and cover letter weeks before my classmates even began thinking of an internship.

After a month, and some call backs, I got a call for an interview and drove for the first time in the cities.  I was 30 minutes late because of a construction traffic jam!  Everyone was really understanding, and my interview went swimmingly.  By the end, I was offered the internship!  I took some time going through the clinic and learning where I will be learning!

On Sunday, I will be going up for an Orientation/Shadow.  I get to follow around a tech with "no pressure" to do anything but sit back and watch.  I am thrilled and a little nervous.  I can't wait for the rest of my life to start, and this is just another step!

What's Next

I have three weeks left of this quarter, and then a week off from school, in which I will be starting my internship.  Then, my last quarter (yes, LAST quarter!) will be my internship and a review class for the VTNE.  I will not be working, but we'be been saving up for this.

I really want to blog a few times a week, mostly for my benefit regarding the internship, once it starts.

Cheers to the journey!

June 15, 2012

Heartworm...Gone Country

Hey Yall!

This week, we made a music video about heartworm!  Check it out, I lend the vocals ;)
Tell me whatcha think!

Lyrics are below the video

Cherie’, Amy, Hannah, Liz
(Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Rae Cyrus)

You can tell your owner, you shoulda thought first
And kept those skeeters ‘way from me
Or you can tell your friends just what a fool they’ve been
Missing my Heartguard dose this month

You can tell those skeeters, go back into your pond
We don’t want microfillaria
Don’t need no dyspnea, coughing or ascites
They just don’t help me when I run

Don’t let them in my heart, my healthy healthy heart,
It just won’t do me any good
If you let them in, immiticide will try
But it might clog up and kill this dog
Caaaaage Resssst!

You can tell your vet, I need an Elisa Test
Or order up some chest x-rays
Or you could be surprised, when I just up and die
And it shows up on my necropsy

Thirty worms inside, suffocating me
They’ll hear funny noises on exam
Interceptor prevents, just one time a month
Maybe you should make that a routine

Don’t let them in my heart, my healthy healthy heart,
It just won’t do me any good
If you let them in, immiticide will try
But it might clog up and kill this dog
Caaaaage Resssst!

Don’t let them in my heart, my healthy healthy heart,
It just won’t do me any good
If you let them in, immiticide will try
But it might clog up and kill this dog

Don’t let them in my heart, my healthy, healthy  heart,
It just won’t do me any good

If you let them in, immiticide will try
But It might clog up and kill this dog
Caaaaage Resssst!

June 12, 2012

Final Surgery Lab


Today, we had our last day of Surgery.  This week, I was the scrub nurse for a canine neuter.  My job was to prepare and sterilize all the packs needed for surgery, including gowns, instruments, and draping material.  I also had to scrub in (aka wash thoroughly for about 10 minutes!), gown and glove, and keep sterile while I draped my patient.

I also got to help with the surgery.   After the nerves and getting into the Sterile Zone of "what I can touch," and "what I cannot touch," I started to have a lot of fun.  I got to hand the Doctor instruments and sutures, help blot up blood, and I even got to cut the testicles out under the supervision of the Doctor!!

It was a lot of fun, and I realized that I was even sort of sad that it's over... for now!

Will write more later, a week and a half left until summer break!! WOOP WOOP :)

June 6, 2012


A few weeks ago, I experienced my first euthanasia.  The animal was an 8 year old cat that was sick with kidney failure, diabetes, and was 12% dehydrated.  It could barely move, wasn't eating or drinking, and was a perfect candidate for euthanasia.

The process for a euthanasia is pretty simple.  An IV catheter is placed wherever works best (this can be difficult to do sometimes when the animal is dehydrated), and then a euthanasia solution is given.  In general, a euthanasia solution is a mixture of a sedative, and a high dose of potassium that stops the heart.  It is painless and quick.

(This is not a photo of the cat we euthanized)

Our instructors performed the euthanasia while we watched, allowed any questions, and even opened the door for questions people may want to ask in private.  I could not have asked for a better first experience with a euthanasia.  Though it was difficult, I was thankful my first experience was with an animal that truly needed it, and there were no problems.  It was in an environment where I was surrounded by people who cared, and wouldn't look down on my if I teared up.  (I wasn't the only one).  I was also thankful that there were no owners around that had loved this cat from day one, no owners to cry and no owners to try to console, when there are no words.

Side Note
Although I am obviously in the business to save animals, sometimes euthanizing really is what is best for the animal.  The decision is no easy task, in fact Alex and I had to make the difficult decision with our Baby Lincoln just this weekend.  There isn't much more difficult than making the decision to end the life of a family member and a friend.  Someone who has been there for you during your roughest times.  I can speak from my experience this last weekend, that the most difficult part is forgetting that he is gone.  Feeding only three animals, forgetting that he isn't hiding in the blankets in the bed, heck.. I even miss him whining all the time.  That was our boy.  Our little cross-eyed, extra-toed inbred little boy.  I love you Lincoln.  <3

Surgery and Anesthesia

Howdy Friends!  It's been a while, and I've been very busy.  This quarter I have three classes:  Anesthesia, Small Animal Surgical Assisting, and Advanced Hematology.  I've been keeping very busy, to say the least.  Let's do a little run through!

Advanced Hematology
In this class, there are four of us and we get to draw blood on all nine animals every week, and we get to run a Complete Blood Count (CBC), Chemistry Panel, and Snap Tests (quick blood tests to check for certain diseases such as heartworm), and look at the blood under a microscope.  We've done this stuff in the past, but never on a weekly basis such as this.  It is really fun to hone my skills, and get better and faster at doing these routine things that I will be doing in the clinic in a few short months!

Surgery and Anesthesia
These two classes go hand in hand.  In class, we learn about surgery and how the anesthesia machine works, on Tuesdays, we have surgery.  As technicians, we cannot perform surgery, but we can assist.  At school, we only do neuters and spays on dogs and cats.

There are three basic positions that we learn how to do things.  As Scrub Nurse, we have to actually scrub in (surgical scrub, sterile gowning and gloving), and we have to sterilize instruments and everything else that needs to be sterilized for surgery in the Autoclave.

An autoclave sterilized instruments and other surgery equipment using pressurized steam at 121 degrees Celsius... that's about 250 degrees Fahrenheit!!

This is what we look like when we are scrubbed in... we cannot touch anything that is not sterile!  I haven't worked in this position yet, but will do so next week.

As anesthetist, the animal under anesthesia's life is literally in your hands.  Basically, when an animal is under anesthesia, just like a human, their heart rate and respiratory rate are depressed, among other things.  If they go too far "Under" they could suffer serious complications including death.  As anesthetist, you are responsible for doing a complete physical exam, pre-anesthetic blood work as outline above, lots and lots of charting, calculating and administering anesthetic medications, putting in an IV catheter and hooking up calculated fluids, putting in an endotracheal tube (see below) and hooking up anesthetic gases, and most importantly, monitoring the patient throughout surgery and recovery.

Once the patient is under anesthesia, there are lots of monitoring devices hooked up to them to measure heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, breathing and more.  You also have to know the "stages of anesthesia" (depth of anesthesia), and be able to tell the doctor when he or she asks.  You have to be able to adjust IV fluids and gas anesthesia to keep the patient in the correct plane suitable for surgery.  We are lucky enough to have a third instructor on hand during surgery to help the anesthetist one on one.

The final position that we learn is the Circulating Nurse.  Basically in this position, you do whatever you are told to do.  This includes restraining for the anesthetist to put in the IV and endotracheal tube, scrubbing the patient for surgery, helping move the patient, charting everything that goes on during the surgery, cleaning the surgical suite from top to bottom, and assisting with getting things such as scalpel blades and sutures, and helping the scrub nurse and Doctor get into their gowns while remaining sterile.  I was the position last week, and it was pretty fun, and very stressful trying to keep up with the Dr.'s notation during surgery!

My First Surgery
The first week of surgery, I was the anesthetist.. known to be the most time consuming and nerve wracking position of the three!  I was nervous, but confident.  My instructors are just wonderful!  It was awesome to do all the things I mentioned above, including many things for my first time.  It was the first time I placed an IV catheter that I actually USED (hooking it up to fluids) it, first time placing an ET tube and anesthetizing an animal, first time calculating and administering controlled drugs, first time recovering a patient... WHEW! I'm glad it's over because it was a lot to take on in one day!

BUT!  I made it through :)  My patient was a dog neuter.  He was a sweetheart, and seeing a patient under anesthesia is always a little bit comical.  First, they are stumbly and "drunk" looking, and then they are completely limp and you can move them anyway you want them to.  Much easier to trim nails and stuff too ;)  Oh, and their tongues almost ALWAYS hang out :P

Anyways, also as the anesthetists, you are responsible for recovering the patient, making sure it can eat and drink water without vomiting, and you are responsible for post-op medications and care twice a day for the rest of the week.  This also includes discharge instructions for the humane society.

This quarter has been a whirlwind so far of emotion and knowledge, and putting both of those to the test.  I have a few other things to post, but I will break those up into a few more posts.

I promise to try to write more, too.  But we all know how that goes ;)  

February 10, 2012

IV's and Bunnies


On Wednesday in my Small Animal Nursing/Nutrition class, we started practicing putting in IV catheters.  We practiced using a rolled up magazine with a rubber tube filled with IV fluid attached to it using vet wrap to simulate a vein in a leg.

It was kind of neat to know that we will be placing these IV catheters on real animals next week.  Eek!

On Thursday, I picked up five rabbits from the High School we visited last week so we could do some learning with them.  All of the rabbits were SUPER friendly and very fun to work on.  Here's some things we did:

SubQ Injections

Nail Trims

Gave Oral "Medications"

And Blood Draws (From the Ear!)

I got my blood draw on the first time!  Their ear veins are so tiny.. so I was super happy.  My bunny had dark hair too, so it was much harder to see the vein :D

 We also performed some routine urinalysis on some dog and cat urine.  We didn't find anything, but as we always say...good for them, bad for us :)

I also had my first interaction with a blind dog.  He was the "son" of one of my instructors.  He was a hound, and it was so sad to see the scared, vacant look in his eyes.  But he was such a sweetheart!  

That's all for now.  Will write more next week :)  

February 3, 2012

Meeting So Many New Animals!

Menomonie High School
On Tuesday, we visited a local High School and their agricultural department to learn about some new animals. We worked with hamsters, gerbils, degus, chinchillas, a California King Snake, mice, a pot belly pig, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, a sugar glider, geckos and a tortoise.  I figured I'd highlight the important notes below.

Basically, we went to the H.S. to learn more about species we will not come across in the classroom.  We took fecal samples, ear cytology samples, skin scrapings, etc. to try and learn more about these species.  We took the samples back to class on Thursday and analyzed them.  We did a general physical exam, including a TPR (temp, pulse, respiration) on those we could.  We also did nail trims on those who needed it.  We each were assigned an animal to learn about and present to the class...including interesting things we learned. (See below).

We didn't do a whole lot with them, and I didn't learn much more about them than I already knew.

My animal was the gerbil.  I got to measure a pulse (320 beats per minute!), and the respirations.  We didn't have a device to measure temperature on an animal this small.  I learned that Gerbils are illegal to own in the state of California (mostly because people release them and they can cause agricultural damage), that they have very poor eyesight, and that they can die after chewing on a fibered tape such as duct tape.

One of the gerbils had alopecia (hair loss) on its nose, and I later found out that they discovered it was allergic to the Pine bedding they had been using for his substrate.  

Degus are basically a larger version of a gerbil.  The biggest thing I've learned about them is that they're biters ;)

Chinchillas are on our "do not touch" list, a list of animals that we are not allowed to handle, per the rules in place through the school.  

California King Snake
The California King Snake is named a King Snake because it will eat other snakes...including venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes.  They can do this because they have an enzyme that breaks down the other snake's venom; however, they can still be killed by a direct bite to the brain or heart.  I didn't get to hold him, although I was interested in doing so.

Potbelly Pig 
The potbelly pig lived outside in a pen, and was able to roam free in the courtyard.  I learned that they can be restrained similar to a dog or cat, and that they also like to squeal whenever they are restrained :P

Ferrets were also the animals on the "do not touch" list, but we did do ear cytology and fecal samples on them.  We didn't find anything abnormal.  One of the ferrets had severe alopecia on its back, but I don't know if we learned anything about what was causing that.

Guinea Pigs
We got to play with the guinea pigs, and they were really fun!  The ones I dealt with were really chill.  We got to do nail trims on them, and they REALLY needed it.  It's SO much fun doing knowing that doing something so little will make SUCH and impact on the animal.  Some of these "G. Pigs" had nails so long that they curled over, and they had to walk on them.  Can you imagine your toenails being so long that you had to walk on them... and then some stranger coming about and trimming them to a normal length...so you can walk comfortably again?  This is the high I get from helping these animals!

Nails very long.. need to be trimmed!

Trimming nails :)

I've dealt with rabbits in my past on a very minimal basis.  My grandpa had a bunch of them at one point, but they were not very people friendly.. and always ran away from us.  On Tuesday, I got to hold one for the first time!  Rabbits have a very unique and convenient feature about them.. when you flip them on their back, and gently stroke their chest or their nose, they will go into a hypnotic-like state.   This makes them very easy to work with!  I got to hold a rabbit, flip it on its back, put it "to sleep," and also put it back into its cage.  The one I worked with was very nice :)  

Sugar Glider
A sugar glider is basically a rodent that has "wings" and can fly.  They are nocturnal (sleep during the day, awake at night), and they are really cute!  The one we encountered was sick...most likely from a nutritional deficiency.  We didn't do much with her because she was sick, but I know she was taken out of her cage and they did some sort of sample collection.  I was busy helping with a guinea pig nail trim at the time.  Here's a picture of a Sugar Glider:   SOOOO cute! :)

The tortoise that we met was about 5 years old and weighed a whopping 18 pounds!! He was really cool, and all we basically did with him was say hello and obtain a fecal.  It was cool to learn that he will outlive most of us (100 yrs+)!

I think the field trip was AMAZING and so well worth it.  I had a blast, and got to learn about and handle animals I had never dealt with before.

P.s....Blood Drive
Also this week, I donated blood to the American Red Cross!  It was my 3rd overall donation.. and I felt great about it :)

Hope your weekend is awesome!  See you next week!

January 25, 2012

Working Outside of the Box

Small Animal Nursing and Nutrition
For our SANN class today, we got to work with three cats this week that seem to have some sort of neurological issue going on with them.  We reviewed several "neurological exams," simple tests to help determine if the issue is something with the brain, or another system.

One thing we do is called conscious proprioception.  You basically flip a paw upside down, and a normal animal should automatically flip the paw back.  An animal with a neurological problem may not flip the paw back over.

We ran several other simple tests like this including pupillary light reflexes.

We then went back to the classroom and discussed wound care, and practiced applying a bandage and a splint to a stuffed animal :)  Here's a picture of mine!

After class, I got to help Dr. Morrow do further testing on the neuro cats.  I helped restrain for three blood draws, and then took the blood back to the lab to run a complete blood count (on a machine), a chemistry panel (on a machine), made blood smears, stained them, and examined it under the microscope.  Below are the machines that we use.  The first machine counts the blood cells and the second machine. tests different chemistries.

Vetscan HM5 (CBC)

Vetscan VS2 (Chem Panel)

We looked at the cell morphology and did what's called a differential white blood cell count where you count 100 WBC's and note how many of each of the types of WBC's there were.  Here's an example of a counter we use.  I call them dingers because they ding when they're done ;)

It was really cool to be able to work on these things again, since in the normal curriculum you stop doing them for a few months after you finish a class.  I got to perfect my blood smearing technique (no easy task!), and today was also the first time that I ran the blood machines on my own.  It was a lot of fun working in the lab without 8 other students in there too! 

Two exams tomorrow, and then it's my weekend!  Will write again soon! 

January 24, 2012

Quarter 5, Week 4

Yesterday, I had class and we worked on some things in the lab including administering ear and eye drops, cleaning ears, and my partner and I even gave our dog a bath! :)

After class, I helped Dr. Morrow with intake exams.  I basically bring the animals in, restrain for the exam, bring them back, sanitize the exam tables, and bring in the next patient.  It is an awesome out of class learning experience because I get to learn about things that may not always be brought up in class.  For example, I watched further testing for hearing and eye sight on a cat that had its extended third eyelid such as the one below.

Helping out with the physical exams has also helped me learn more about each of the animals that come in each week, and greatly increases my experience with handling, restraining and more.

Today, I had our Lab Animal class (LAEPP), and we did mostly lecture.  During the lecture, we were talking about rats and mice, and they are prone to a condition called "chromodacryorrhea."  Our instructor asked if anyone knew what that meant and I did a quick medical terminology breakdown:

Chromo = Color
Dacryo = tears
rrhea = discharge

I had heard of a condition before where rats excrete red tears and I announce "Red Tears?"  I was right!  I was told "good job!" and I also announced, "Medical Terminology for the win!"  It was extremely cool to use information that I learned A YEAR AGO and still apply it today.  Many people end up forgetting, but Medical Terminology is one of those things you need to keep using.  It was awesome!


In Advanced Clinical Skills, we went over some lecture and did some basic cytologies.

Physical Exams
For our Small Animal Nursing and Nutrition Class (SANN), we have to perform a physical exam on a selected animal once a week.  We have to do a full once - over, Temp, Respirations, and Pulse (TPR), palpate (feel) different structures such as kidneys, bladder, and lymph nodes, and write up a physical exam form and SOAP.  A SOAP is a form of recording medical information:

S = Subjective (things such as 5 yr old female intact black lab, gentle, etc)
O = Objective (TPR, things found on your physical exam such as lacerations, dandruff, broken teeth, etc)
A = Assessment (Assess your findings)
P = Plan (What do we do next?  Prescriptions, vaccinations, toe nail trims, etc).

It is pretty intense, but it's something we get to work on and it's awesome knowing we will be doing this for the rest of our careers!

That's all for now.  I will try to write again this week.

Have a good one! :)