Student Blog

conversation blurbs

ICU, Dermatology and Pigs

November 2018

As I write this month’s blog, I am sitting in a hotel room in Oklahoma, where I am completing the second week of my preceptorship with Hanor, a pork production company. Since we last spoke, I have completed both the ICU and Dermatology rotations at ISU. I first transitioned from nights to days in the ICU, which was a harder adjustment for me than working nights. I had a lot of swing shifts, which are scheduled from 10 AM to 10 PM versus the standard 8 AM to 8 PM.

Building Confidence

November 2018

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and the opportunity to enjoy some delicious turkey. It has been a week since I arrived back in Ames from visiting my family in Los Angeles for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was so nice to see everyone again, including my two dogs and my bearded dragon. The weather was also perfect (low 70s)! I am now back in Ames, and it is definitely starting to feel like winter. The mornings so far have been a chilly 18 degrees, but the peep of the sun in the afternoons makes for a nice stroll outside.

Life After Graduation

October 2018

Hello again everyone,

It’s been several months since I’ve written, and things have changed quite a bit. At that time, I had just graduated and was taking a few weeks off. The three weeks between graduation and work were fun; I’m glad I took time to relax and get things in order before taking the next step. Many of my classmates may have felt the real world came too early, but I was anxious to start my professional career. I am now wholly immersed in the “real world”, and starting to sort everything out.

Adulting in Veterinary School: being a morning person! 

September 2018

Veterinary school demands long hours: long hours of class, long hours of studying.  It can be incredibly difficult to wake up for those 8:00 AM classes or 7:00 AM extra-curriculars -especially during Iowa Winters where you will commonly get to school, and leave school, without ever seeing the fleeting sun.

On that dreary note, I would love to share some ways to trick your body into being a morning person.

ICU Overnights

September 2018

 I write to you this month during one of my ICU overnight shifts. Prior to ICU, I was on the Food Animal and Camelid Medicine and Surgery rotation. I really enjoyed the food animal rotation and got to see a variety of species for appointments and overnight hospitalization, including beef cattle, sheep, goats, and alpacas. The rotation started off steady with mostly beef lameness cases, but quickly turned into assisting with several goat blood transfusions. I learned a lot and enjoyed working with the interns, residents, and clinicians.

Adulting in Veterinary School: you will never be caught up

September 2018

In undergraduate, you may have had time to finish your studying or projects each night, watch a little TV or read a book (for fun!), and get up each morning to go for a run.  Maybe you went dancing every Thursday night, spent weekends at a friend's place, and only ever didn't receive a full 8 hours of sleep by choice.

In veterinary school, you enter this Twilight Zone where I swear there are only like 6 hours in the day -where did the other 18 go!? 

Eyeballs (…aren't?) Gross

August 2018

If I had been asked to write this before my senior year, I would have said I was terrified of eyeballs. They were these mystical, fragile blobbies that are essential to both animals for sight and owners for connecting to their pets. The stress borne of the consequences if you 'mess those up' was hugely heavy to me: eyeballs were tiny face booby-traps waiting to explode (literally!), and I did not want to risk getting close to them. So, when I prepared to brave my Ophthalmology Service clinical rotation, I wished with all my wishing power… to not puke. 

Adulting in Veterinary School: Food Prepping for Daaayyys (literally!)

July 2018

I am on break from rotation right now to regroup and intensely study for boards (anyone else catch the oxymoron there, ugh!).  However, each break I take out a day to food prep.  Whenever people hear that I food prep, they panic.  This makes me so sad!  I eat "fast food" daily for nearly all meals by eating my own home-cooked goodness.  Let me share some tips I definitely wish I knew when I was first starting at university. 

Introducing Sarahbeth Barlas

June 2018

Hi everyone! My name is Sarahbeth Barlas, and I grew up in Canton, Michigan, on that perfect border between suburbia and the back country roads. I attended Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University where I completed a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a concentration in companion and exotic animal management and a specialization in agriculture and natural resources biotechnology. 

Plan your fourth year wisely

June 2018

The past month of rotations has flown by! I have completed two rotations, started my VetPrep program, and have registered for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and with the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine.

So far, my rotations have provided a great opportunity to get to know classmates that I previously haven’t spent much time with. Now that everyone is closing in on a career path, it has been great to create a network of species experts that I will be able to refer to in the future. 

Summer Break is Here

May 2018

Hello everyone!

After a week-long of sleepless nights and eating Maruchan ramen soups, finals week is now over! It is incredible to think that the first two years of vet school are over; and there are only two more years of vet school to go. I am currently on the road back to Los Angeles, with my cat Maddy by my side. We stopped in Denver, Colorado for the night and we’re on our way to spend the night in Mesquite, Nevada.

Get involved!

April 2018

My fourth year journey starts in less than 30 days at ISU CVM, meaning a new rotation every two weeks until May of 2019! Consequently, I have a lot of work to do in the upcoming month with deadlines fast approaching. Yet, my excitement is building to get out of the classroom and apply the knowledge I have gained over the past three years. That also means I have to start considering plans for after graduation.

Two weeks left till graduation!

April 2018

We’re well into spring, although it certainly doesn’t feel like it. I don’t know about you, but personally, I am sick of the cold and snow. Fortunately, during my travels I missed most of the bad weather and just dealt with the aftermath.

The last month has been a lot of fun. I had four weeks of externships which took me to Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. It was especially nice because these were vacation blocks for me, so I just got to hang out with vets and didn’t have to write any reports or log skills as I did for previous externships.

Ophthalmology Wetlab

April 2018

Hello everyone!

It is mid-April, and final exams are looming closer and closer. It’s unbelievable to think that there are only 3 weeks until second year will come to a close.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in the Ophthalmology enucleation lab. This wet lab was in conjunction with the Feline Club. Each student had a cadaver dog or cat to practice enucleation techniques.

Valuable Opportunities at Conferences - Take Advantage of Them

March 2018

Since my last blog, I attended the 2018 AASV (American Association of Swine Veterinarians) Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. It was a great conference again this year filled with seminars, student oral and poster presentations, along with many networking opportunities. No matter who you talk to, they will attest that AASV is a very student friendly organization, especially when it comes to offering funding to students wishing to attend the conference each year. The timing of the conference unfortunately falls before spring break each year, so it can take some time to get caught up with classes upon return, but definitely worth the effort given how much the conference has to offer. I had a few exams that required rescheduling, which needed to be addressed in advanced on a per instructor basis.

Mental Breaks - Take Them

March 2018

Greetings folks!

It has come to that time of the semester when us vet students can take a sigh of relief and embrace spring break.

After two months of non-stop midterm exams, I decided to take a mental break and venture out to Chicago for some sight -seeing, as well as to experience the infamous Chicago deep-dish pizza! Chicago is about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ames.

Electives, Mini-Rotations, Clubs, & Conferences

February 2018

The semester is now in full swing with two exams down and plenty to go before clinical rotations begin in May!

There are a lot of species-specific electives offered this semester, including poultry diseases, small ruminant production medicine, entrepreneurship, equine lameness, and equine surgery. I am enrolled in the poultry and small ruminant courses, given that these species are minimally covered in the core curriculum.

On the road ... Iowa to North Carolina

January 2018

Since our last visit, I have wrapped up a few more rotations and done a bit of traveling. I spent two weeks on the Clinical Pathology and Necropsy rotation. We spent the first half of each day evaluating blood smears, serum chemistries and complete blood counts. This is not my strong suit, but I was able to vastly improve my ability to perform and interpret these diagnostic tests. In the afternoon, we performed necropsies on deceased animals in the hopes of identifying the cause of their clinical signs. Altogether, it was a good two weeks, and I certainly didn’t mind being inside when the temperatures started dropping below zero degrees.

Welcome, Megan!

January 2018
Megan Nickel

My name is Megan Nickel and I am a third-year veterinary student from Theresa, Wisconsin. I grew up on a dairy farm and completed my bachelor’s degree in animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) in 2015. During my time at UWRF, I worked in their animal welfare laboratory, at a local mixed animal practice, and at an emergency and referral center near the Twin Cities. Between my undergraduate degree and entry into veterinary school, I completed an animal welfare internship with Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods.

Looking back on 2017

December 2017

I continue to enjoy my time on rotations, and have completed two more food animal rotations since my last post. We are given a fair bit of flexibility with our schedule fourth year. I took one week of a two week block off, and used the other for a preceptorship. Having an off week was really nice, as it allowed me to spend time with family and friends over Thanksgiving, study for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), and ride along with two veterinarians.

Winter Break!

December 2017

It is that time of the year again, where I can rejoice and say “Yes! I did it! I crossed the finish line!” With the first semester of second year under my belt, I feel a sense of relief knowing that I gave it my best this semester and there are no more final exams to look forward to (or not look forward to).

Time flies!

December 2017

I am writing from sunny Southern California! Now that the semester is over it’s nice to be back with family and friends to recuperate and get ready for the New Years! I’m so happy to be back with family especially since this will be my last “big” break before clinics that I get to spend at home! I can’t believe one semester stands between me and my last year at ISU!

Introducing Jackie Lee, VM3

November 2017

Hello everyone! My name is Jackie Lee and I am so excited to share my experience at ISU CVM with you all. I am originally from Southern California. Moving to Iowa has become my first “out of state” schooling experience. I'm a third-year veterinary student and my focus and area of experience is with small animals. However, I plan to track mixed animal during my fourth year.

Taking Time for Yourself - Wellness & Lifestyle

November 2017

Over the last month, I have taken Swine Production Management and Consulting, as well as Microbiology/Diagnostic Lab. I am now taking a course in Small Ruminant Medicine. I enjoyed the swine course, as it involved a lot of record analysis and discussion on swine production which I found interesting. The Microbiology and Diagnostic Lab rotation was interesting as well. The mornings were devoted to microbiology, where we isolated and identified bacteria from cases submitted to the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL). The afternoons were then spent evaluating tissues and samples submitted to the VDL by veterinarians. This was a great experience, as it involved critically evaluating the submissions and making decisions regarding the best way to identify the pathogen causing disease. I am now on Small Ruminant Medicine, where we are learning about caring for goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas, and whitetail deer. I would have to say that these have been three of my favorite rotations so far!

Rotations & Conferences!

October 2017

Since the last post, I’ve completed Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, as well as Small Animal Anesthesia. Large animal medicine was a lot of fun. It was my first large animal rotation at ISU, and it was a great learning experience working on cattle, goats, and even alpacas. I scrubbed in for a calf surgery, worked on a bull with tetanus, helped diagnose meningeal worms in a goat, and much more.

First Year of Vet Med Almost Done!

April 2017


It is that time of the year I have been waiting for … “dead week”. And no, it isn’t the week where all zombies are let loose across campus (although that would be fairly interesting). “Dead week” is the week before the week of finals. Essentially, club activities and meetings subside during dead week, giving us students more time to focus and expend every last bit of energy we can muster to get us through our official last week of lectures and labs.

Two Weeks to Graduation!

April 2017

Things have been very busy recently, and with every passing sunny and 70 degree day, it seems that regardless of whether my to-do list is completed or not, May 6thwill be here before I know it. On the academic side of things, the Equine Medicine rotation is what has been occupying my time. As we were right in the middle of foaling season, sick foals, sick foals, and more sick foals were the center of my universe for 14 days ( and maybe a colic case or twelve, but who was counting?).

Preparing for Internships

March 2017

Now back from break, the prospect of clinics is becoming more exciting as we only have ~40 days left in the classroom. I took this final spring break (yes, the actual last academic vacation) to relax and spend time in Los Angeles with friends. However, spring break was not just about relaxation. Los Angeles is my primary area of interest for living post-graduation, whether that be in an internship (hopefully) or working as a general practitioner. With that being said, it is important to find practices of interest for prospective internships during the third year of veterinary schoo

North Dakota Preceptorship

March 2017

Hello again! Well folks, the last of the fourth-year preceptorship opportunities has come and gone for me; and it seems that I saved the best for last!

I just returned from central North Dakota in the heart of cattle country during the upswing of calving season. I was fortunate enough to make the trip with a classmate to help split expenses, and we had two busy weeks of alternating our on-call schedule so each of us would get enough sleep to keep pace with a very busy mixed animal practice!

Time to Recharge and Register for Second Year

March 2017

I just had a week off for spring break and I decided to stay in Ames and recharge by catching up on sleep, hitting the gym and watching some of my favorite Netflix shows. I also took this opportunity to catch up on a new book I started reading called “Dark Matter.” It was so important for me to recharge and give my brain a mental break so that I can be ready to tackle the remaining six weeks of the semester. As a first-year veterinary student, you learn to take mental breaks and do something fun for yourself without feeling guilty about not studying every waking hour of everyday.

Staying Motivated

February 2017

What an interesting Spring semester it has been thus far. I have to admit that my motivation has not been up to par with previous semesters, but it has been a little difficult to focus with 60-70 degree weather and clinics in ~70 days!  Regardless, the most interesting classes this semester are Ophthalmology and Radiology (even though Radiology lives up to its reputation of making life a struggle bus, and I am clearly biased when it comes to Ophthalmology).

Time Management in Vet School

January 2017

Here begins my final traditional “classroom” semester of veterinary school, and with a new year comes new resolutions, so I want to write on time management in vet school. However, I’m going to briefly mention some dry material first so you can get the idea of day-to-day life– just stick with me. My core courses this semester include: cytology, toxicology, large animal medicine, infectious disease and preventative medicine, veterinary law, ophthalmology (my love), and one of the more feared courses – radiology.

Clubs and Volunteer Opportunities

January 2017

As a current first-year veterinary student at ISU, I am completely fascinated by the plethora of clubs and organizations the college has to offer. During my first semester, I joined various clubs, including the Ophthalmology Club, Pathology Club, Veterinary Business Management Association, student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Emergency/ICU Club and the Radiology Club. I am currently one of the VM1 representatives for the Ophthalmology Club. Each club is unique and they provide so much hands-on experience and guest-speaker lunch meetings.

Fourth-Year Challenges

January 2017
Dan Breuer examining x-rays

Hello again! Finally, the calendar has transitioned to a year that myself, along with my class mates have waited to lay our eyes on for a very long time. In 2017 we will graduate and see ourselves move onto starting the first segment of our young careers as veterinarians. This particular time for a fourth year is generally filled with a lot of excitement, mixed with a heavy dose of nervousness and suspense. Though we are preparing to walk across the stage in five short months, along with that act comes the challenge of finding and accepting a job, or searching for that perfect internship, in addition to moving you and your belongings to a different part of the county, state, or country.

Lessons from My First Semester

December 2016
Jacky Peraza

My name is Jacky Peraza. I am a first-year veterinary student at Iowa State University. I have just completed my first semester. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. My family lives minutes away from downtown Los Angeles. I am the first member of my immediate family to attend college and graduate school. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Merced, in molecular and cellular biology and a minor in psychology in 2013. After graduating from UC-Merced, I worked at the Animal Specialty and Emergency Center in West Los Angeles as a radiology technician, where I was exposed to various specialties within the veterinary profession, including oncology, radiology, cardiology, internal medicine, surgery and emergency/ICU departments.

Clinical Skills and Junior Surgery

December 2016
Parker Wilcox examining dogs eye

Fall semester of my third year was one of the most fulfilling, as well as busy, semesters that I have had so far at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Following the infamously challenging second year and my summer as a veterinary scholar doing Ophthalmology research here at Iowa State, this past semester integrated all the components of my education that I’ve acquired, thus far.  However, the pre-eminent experience this semester was embarking on the journey we fondly call junior surgery.  Though many may think we just perform surgery, our program offers so much more.

Field Services Rotation and Boards

November 2016
Dan Breuer

Hey there again! Fourth year has been a whirlwind since my last entry. To start off, I have just completed the Field Services rotation. As a large animal-focused student, this rotation was a lot of fun, and it will be very similar to what I will be doing after I graduate. The Field Services rotation is an ambulatory service for food animals, and we spent the two weeks doing treatments on animals around central Iowa, as well as doing all of the treatments as needed at the Iowa State Dairy farm. This rotation was a nice change of pace, especially after completing many small animal rotations during the mid-summer and early fall.

Introducing Dan Breuer

September 2016
Dan Breuer

Hey everyone! I’m Dan Breuer, a fourth-year student from Glen Haven, Wisconsin. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 2013. I am half-way through my fourth-year at the Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine. My focus is primarily dairy production medicine, with a general focus on mixed animal medicine. That’s a little about me and my background, so now I’ll give you a little sneak peek into what is going on. Every student has a different experience, especially during the clinical fourth year, so please realize that I may have a much different perspective at this point in my education than many of my other peers do.