My name is Abbey and I am a member of the Class of 2011 at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I just finished my second year and I have loved every minute of my vet school experience! I guess an important thing prospective students may want to know is how I got here in the first place.
I grew up in southern Idaho in a town called Twin Falls. When I was in first grade, I dressed up as a veterinarian for Halloween, so I suppose you could say I am one of those people who have always known what I wanted to do for a career. I graduated high school in 2003 and then headed up to Moscow, Idaho for my freshman year at the University of Idaho. At UI, I majored in pre-veterinary science and biology. I was involved in many biology departmental-related clubs, as well as being involved in the residence hall system.
During my summer breaks, I wanted to build my animal and veterinary experiences. I am particularly interested in wildlife medicine and conservation, so I searched for summer positions that would offer that opportunity. I spent the summer of 2005 and 2006 interning at Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary in McCall, Idaho. Those summers were a true ‘backwoods’ experience, as I lived without electricity deep in the middle of the Payette National Forest. As a rehabilitation intern, I was responsible for going out on rescue calls for injured and orphaned wildlife. I was able to work with a wide variety of species, including raptors (owls, hawks, falcons, etc.), raccoons, foxes, deer and elk, bobcats, etc. While I was interning, I also was able to get a job working for the local veterinarian in the town of McCall. It was a small animal practice that offered basic services such as spay/neuter and vaccinations. While it wasn’t the most interesting caseload, I definitely learned a great deal about working in a typical small animal, small-town hospital.
I applied for admission to WSU CVM in fall 2006. I was in the Idaho pool of applicants, as my state has a contract with WSU to accept 11 Idaho students every year. I took a leap of faith and decided that the only school I really wanted to go to was WSU, so it was the only place I applied to. I found that the interview process was comfortable and that it felt more conversational than intimidating. I left the interview excited about the possibility of being accepted. When I got the phone call informing me of my offer of admission, I felt extremely relieved. All my years of working for this one goal had finally paid off.
My first year and second year at WSU CVM have been great! I learned so much, but more than anything I met the amazing faculty, staff, and students here. I really appreciate the supportive and welcoming atmosphere here at WSU. A walk through the small animal clinic or the large animal barn is not complete without a faculty member pulling you aside to show you the latest case. It is clearly evident that the primary goal of the clinicians and professors here is to teach.
I have also enjoyed all of the hands-on opportunities that are offered to the veterinary students here. I was really interested in learning more about horses and equine medicine, but I had very limited experience when I arrived as a first year. I was able to join the student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the Herd Health program on campus. I even joined the WSU Equine Treadmill crew as a work study employee. It is so fun that it doesn’t even feel like a job! Through these experiences, I have since built up my equine knowledge and handling skills. From performing a neurological exam to placing a jugular catheter, I feel much more confident. Aside from the equine opportunities, I have also been lucky enough to work at the WSU Bear Research and Conservation Center on campus. I spent the summer before my first year working with cardiologist Dr. Lynne Nelson at the WSU Bear Research and Conservation Center. We performed heart ultrasounds on the bears and I did lab research looking at specific collagen types in hibernating versus non-hibernating bear cardiac tissue. I still volunteer with feeding and cleaning at the Bear Center on the weekends, as well as monthly ultrasounds.
The biggest piece of advice that I can offer to prospective students is to just be yourself throughout the interview process. Do not be afraid to standout; if you have something unique or interesting about your background, let the committee know! Also, do not go into the application or interview process giving answers and information that you think the admissions committee wants to hear. A rehearsed, typical answer is not going to be impressive. I was asked during my interview what my three biggest strengths were and one of my answers was simply that I am fun. The admissions committee seemed to think that was a great answer and they still remember that from my interview. Again, just be you!
I feel so lucky to be a part of the WSU CVM community. Not only is the program top-notch academically, but the people are sincere. My experience has truly been better than I could have ever imagined. I am truly proud to say that I will graduate as a Cougar veterinarian!