Friday, March 29, 2013

Carnival weekend

So the carnival went pretty well.  The turn out wasn't as good as we had hoped but one of the semesters had block exams(3 exams back to back) that monday and I believe another had another exam later that next week.

I feel though that everyone that attended had a blast.  We had a bouncy house and carnival games for the kids, BBQ for the hungry, and beer gardens for the thirsty.  The beer gardens even had a life sized "beer pong" table using 55gal drums.

Human sized Beerpong or more correctly stated "Beiruit" as there are no paddles involved.
The class was also able to get a hold of some wonderful raffle prizes they gave away as well as a wonderful donation for some of our professors...A Pie the Professor Raffle!!!

Our Bacteriology professor Dr. Soto even allowed us to draw two names just to make it a little more interesting.  He is one of the best sports.  Another professor Dr. Belle Nibblett got the wonderful opportunity of letting me pie her in the face.  We won't have her until next semester for Mechanisms of Disease where I'm pretty sure she'll find some way of paying me back ;-)
Our old anatomy professor Dr. Spencer also showed up with her child and allowed us to use her as another pie target.  Overall I think it was a great success.  Not necessarily a financial success as it was a big risk running this event.  However a success nonetheless.  Especially when you figure there were two students in our class that were planning the entire event outside of studying for one of the most difficult semesters in our program.  They definitely deserve a very large pat on the back for doing such a wonderful job on a very fun filled Saturday afternoon.
Jess repping her 7th.

I'm probably going to regret this in a few weeks ;-)

So that was last Saturday.  It will probably be awhile until my next post as Finals are coming up and 3rd semester is one of those "constant fear of failure" semesters, at least for me it is.  It definitely keeps you on your toes.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Here's a bonus post because you all have been waiting so patiently.

At the end of our stay on the island each semester has a very elegant banquet where we invite all the professors as well as past members of our class to come together and have one last fun time before finals and leaving for clinicals.

This party is of course not cheap and can sometimes run as much as 80,000ecd (~$30k).  But that covers the venue, food for about 400 people, DJ, as well as open bar for the majority of the evening.  Because of these high costs, each semester's class fundraises through the 7 semesters here on the island to pay for the event.  This is usually accomplished with different bake sales, useful items, clothing, and events.

Some of the fun bake sales we've had in the past have been: cup of dirt(pudding/oreo cookies), taco bar, thanksgiving(turkey with all the fixings), kebabs, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.  Each semester usuallly runs a bake sale which occurs once or twice throughout the semester and the profit goes towards their banquet at the end.

Sometimes a semester will come up with an item that they personalize and sell that's useful.
We've had...

  • digital stethoscope timers that help with measuring pulse and respiratory rates
  • pens with a tablet stylus in one that have Ross University written on the side
  • penlights in different semester colors that help with determining pupillary light reflexes
Clothing is also a big seller.  Each semester comes up with designs for a t-shirt that usually have an inside joke associated with them that has to do with life down here on the island, or veterinary medicine in general.
  • There's a shirt that says "FOCMA Life" on the front with a cross section of a feline leukemia virus.  FOCMA is the acronym for a type of protein that shows up in infected cats that can help us determine if in fact they have been infected.  It also sounds like something else that a stressed out vet student might say ;-)
  • We have another shirt that has "Vet School" on the front and "It's like med school, only harder" on the back.
There are definitely a lot more but those are some of the funny/most interesting ones that I like.

One of the last fundraisers we have down here on the island are events.  Each semester usually is response for an event that occurs during the semester (6th semester always is responsible for running the Mr. RUSVM event I spoke about earlier).  Other semesters have their special event that they will run through their stay on the island (Red semester runs an American idol-like event we call "Island-Idol").

This semester, Blue semester (my semester), decided to try and throw a daytime carnival which is happening tomorrow.  It's going to have a bounce house, carnival games, easter egg hunt, food, as well as a beer garden for the adults.  We're also going to have an auction to "Pie-the-Professor."  I'm really excited to see how it turns out!  I'll try and take some pictures to show you all after tomorrow.

So yea, these are just a few of things we do when we have a little bit of free time and it isn't being spent sleeping :-)

Treading above water...and doing just fine.

I'm pretty sure my posts are following an exponential curve.  I really hope I can fix that next semester with a little self discipline.

As of yesterday I am done with all of my midterms for this semester.  All I have left is my Bacteriology laboratory final exam as well as four final exams for my four classes (Pathology 1, Bacteriology, Virology and Pharmacology 1).

This semester feels like it has gone by extremely fast (at least compared to the other two I have for reference).  Of course that happens I guess with monotony throughout your weeks.  Wake up, class, eat, study, bed.  I definitely haven't gone out that much this semester.  I'm hoping to also fix that next semester.  I think the fear of failure in 3rd has driven me to enjoy very little downtime between studying.  Virology contains so much material that a good portion of the people that fail a class at Ross, usually fail this class.

Ok now I'm done complaining about 3rd.  What are some good things you say?  Well, I'm finally learning things relevant to medicine.  We'll learn about an infectious agent in Viro or BacT, and then learn about a disease process (pathophysiology) that occurs because of that agent.  It's nice being able to draw relevance to something being learned as opposed to just brute force memorization because it's "important for your profession."  Now all I have to do is keep it all straight in my head for the exam... and for NAVLE boards.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mr. RUSVM Jan 2013

The post you all have been waiting for.  The first Saturday evening of every semester there is an event where the students of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine host a male student pageant.  It's a way to relax and enjoy the island before classes start getting stressful.

There are so few of us in the program (men that is) that for each semester, one man from each of the seven semesters is paraded around and performs in different categories for the entertainment of the other students/faculty.  It is an extremely fun event for all involved.  The winner is usually (not always) rigged with 7th semester winning first, 6th semester winning second  and 5th or 4th winning third place.

I was chosen/volunteered for our semester this time around.  Boy was I not prepared for what I was getting into.  The current 6th semester class runs the event and makes up the categories for the men to perform in.  This semester the events were:
Only In St. Kitts (OISK) - A statement we use down here for things that annoy us that are particular to this island (sometimes it's out of annoyance and other times it's more as a joke)
Favorite Animal Planet Show - A parody of your favorite animal planet show.
Professor impersonation - Pretty self-explanatory.  Do your best impersonation of a professor on campus.
Talent - this is a free for all category to basically do whatever you want

I first have to say that I could not in any way do this event alone and make it look as good as I did.  We have a wonderful team of people who have worked on the past 3 semesters and have done a wonderful job with brainstorming ideas and putting the final product(s) together.

We always start off with a choreographed music number with the Mr. RUSVM's from each class (with a bonus this semester with a member from the Very Important Significant Others).  We also had a special guest or should I say guests along to help us out.  Some of our very own professors.  It was a really awesome evening.

For our OISK skit I chose to make fun of the fact that our power goes off on this island at the most inopportune times, such as during finals week while studying.  I was the "Power Goblin" who worked for St. Kitts Electric Company and I stole the power from the stage while students were studying for finals.

For "Favorite Animal Planet Show" I decided to do a spoof on the Crocodile Hunter.  I spent about 2 weeks over break trying to practice an Australian accent.  It was very bad but still very funny.  We did "Crocodile Hunter: St. Kitts edition."  We had Steve Irwin discover and fight an exam from a very challenging professor here on the island who everyone has to "hurdle" over during their first two semesters.  We then had Steve fight a Donkey Spider (my roommate in an awesome homemade spider costume).  Very funny in my own opinion.

For professor impersonation there was only one professor, that we have had up to this point in time, that I could do a half decent job of impersonating...Dr. Reich.  Here is a picture for comparison.

And last but not least Talent... we did a little choreographed number where three of us were munchkins.  I can't give it justice with words so I've added a link to the youtube video of it.
I didn't take home the gold, but I made a lot of amazing memories down here with some of the best people I've had the pleasure to know.  I also got tons of laughs throughout the night, and I still have people coming up to me 7 weeks later telling me how good of a job I did.  So I'd say it was a success.

Happy New Year

So I know I'm about a month and a half too late.  No one can say 3rd semester isn't as time consuming if not more than 2nd semester.  Made it through 2nd with a few mental scars but nothing too bad.  No grey hairs yet.

This semester I'm taking, Bacteriology, Virology, Pathology, and Pharmacology.  The last two are the first in a two part series of classes.  It helps to split up some of the concepts over a 28 week period of time in this accelerated program.

Each semester is of course different but I think I finally have gotten into the balance of life on this island.  Keeping studying, sleeping, eating, and finding time to relax in equal parts has been a one of the greatest challenges outside of the actual material being covered.  Surprisingly the material isn't that bad concept-wise; there is just so much of it.  We are almost through the first half of the semester and yet I still feel like I just landed on this rock recently, even though it was almost a year ago that this happened.

As I said in my last post over 2 months ago I was going to talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Of course, being a foreign country thanksgiving isn't really celebrated.  We actually had class on Thanksgiving.  However, being of the large population of U.S. expats, some of the local businesses decided to have "Thanksgiving Dinner" buffet specials.  Jess and I decided to go along with a group of about 20 students from my class to the Marriott on the island (I like to call it the "U.S. Embassy of St. Kitts")  It was such an amazing meal and the company was a nice break from studying.

You may also notice that "smudge of dirt" on my upper lip.  For the month of November our class as well as some of the other classes had all of the guys pledge to grow mustaches for Prostate Cancer awareness month (which is November).  The event is called Movember.  It was a lot of fun and we got an awesome shot of everyone in our semester on the last day before we all rushed home to shave it off.

I wish you all have had a wonderful start to a new year.  I know I have and hope the rest of the year is just as fruitful and fun.  My next post I'll let you all in on an event held at the beginning of every semester here on the island, Mr. RUSVM....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Been a long time, been a long time...

What a semester it has been!  My only regret is that I haven't updated you all during this long marathon of studying.  I also apologize in advance if my spelling/grammar is not up to par.  My brain is losing brain cells to veterinary medicine at an exponential pace.  I can spell equine protozoal myencephalitis but I can't seem to know simple basic words that used to be in my vocabulary.

My days have basically consisted of waking up, class, eating, studying, sleep.  There has been the occasional(very very rarely) break on a Friday evening but for the most part it's been studying like crazy.

The way 2nd semester has been setup, schedule-wise, there isn't a lot of room for getting behind.  After the third week, you basically have an exam/quiz in one or more of your classes every week until 3 weeks before finals.  So you are always studying or preparing for an exam.  Whether it be all arteries/veins/nerves of the dog/cat/horse/bovine, or all of the immunological mechanisms used throughout the body.  My mind is basically on overdrive.

This semester has also been a very humbling one.  Because of this type of studying I feel like I haven't been able to give my best effort towards learning the material and instead basically study for exams.  This has led me to getting some subpar scores on these past progress exams.  I will be going into final exams with more trepidation than I would have hoped.  It's not a good feeling but unfortunately it's not like I haven't been trying to put in 100% everyday for the past 4 months.  So it gets a little nerve racking at times.  I can only speak for myself but I question myself at times if "this is really what I should be doing."  I know I'm not alone with this thought but it still gets to me at times.  Then of course I answer back with "yes of course, now get back to studying those parasites!!!"

With that thought I will leave this here until after finals.  Hopefully I will have enough brain power left to have some intelligent comments to say about everything else that's going on, plus give a prequel to this post and talk about Halloween and TurkeyDay down here on the rock.

I will definitely post pictures as well... I promise.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brain on Break!

Now that I have had some time off, I am starting to get back into the hang of living a life that doesn't involve a constant barrage upon my neurons 24/7.  I'm able to think about things in life that may or may not have future impact on my career and life in general.

One of these is directly related to a press release by the National Academies on May 30, 2012.  It states that because of budget cuts at universities and grant money provided, funding is leaving areas of veterinary medicine that in my opinion are THE most important with regards to global health.  Veterinary medicine isn't just about treating sick puppies and kittens.  It's about finding new ways to lessen our disturbances within this global ecosystem and the detrimental health effects to all life involved because of it.  It's about being on the front lines of a microbial war that seems like a never ending struggle just to stay on top.  And it's about educating others to do the same indifferent to where you are from or what your background may be.

Now I understand that money in an economy equals choice; however, it feels to me that those choices are being made ill-advised as to their detrimental effect on our health as a whole.  And this worries me for our future.  Veterinarians in these areas of expertise will definitely have wonderful job security as there will be less of them and possibly more problems for them to solve and overcome.

There was a line in that press release that since I saw it have posted it everywhere on my wall, computer screen, post-it notes, and phone.

Establishing a health-oriented think tank with the goal of advancing sustainable food-animal husbandry practices, welfare policies, ecosystem health standards, and the capacity of the veterinary profession in the developing world, is important and could help future generations of veterinarians collaborate across professions, disciplines, and cultures.

If money is going to be taken away from these industries, then the only responsible action is to figure out where we need to go from here and start putting those choices back to work towards advancing our global health.