A Veterinarian’s Physical Examination

A visit to the veterinarian’s office usually consists of two major parts: the initial taking of a history and the secondary physical examination.  While the purpose and advantages of taking a history are often rather apparent, the physical examination is often more mysterious.  So today this blog will go over what exactly your veterinarian is looking for in his or her physical examination.

I always begin my physical examination with the head and then work backwards, towards the tail.

Denali the Labrador


Placing a hand over one eye and making a motion towards the other eye tests for the “menace reflex.”  A visual dog (unless the patient is a young puppy or kitten) will blink or pull away from that threatening gesture.  This is our primary indicator of vision.  We also check the sclera, or “whites of the eye,” for any signs of inflammation such as prominent blood vessels or discharge.  Ensuring that both pupils are the same size is important – unequal pupil size (anisocoria) can indicate a range of neurological or other disorders. Continue reading A Veterinarian’s Physical Examination


Everything You Need to Know About the NAVLE

For the past four months, preparing for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination has been at the forefront of mine and my friends’ minds.  This means that although we’ve certainly had some free time, we’ve always been worried about the NAVLE.  The consequence?  My friends and I have barely hung out, I’ve had to postpone editing my second novel (The Ripple Effect), and I’ve had far fewer Jimmy Neutron Nights than normal.

jn guide

For your own reference.

Back in the summer when it came time to start really worrying about the NAVLE, I tried to find some information on it online.  I was surprised to find that there was no easy-to-read condensation of what the NAVLE exactly entails.  So, I figured I’d make one myself.  I’ll try to avoid my usual playful (and/or offensively annoying) exaggerative style in this post.  When I complain how much this test sucks, know I really mean it. Continue reading Everything You Need to Know About the NAVLE

Veterinary School Debt – A Close Look at What We Face

One of my favorite things to do is teach.  At Michigan State University’s CVM, we recently had a group of “VetBound” students come visit us for 6 weeks.  This is a program for undergrads who are seriously considering attending veterinary school after graduation.  I was lucky enough to have two of these students assigned to follow me around for one week.  I kind of went above and beyond what I was supposed to do during that period; I used our downtime to give lectures on how to do a physical exam and set up suturing workshops.  A few weeks later, I joined a panel of vet students who answered questions from these VetBound kids.  One of the questions was, “Do you ever regret coming to vet school?”

My answer was, of course, “All the time.”

cvm logo

“Why do we keep inviting him to do these panels?”

Continue reading Veterinary School Debt – A Close Look at What We Face

Intellectual Elitism in Vet School

Ever since I was a kid, I was made to feel special for being smart.  I was always told that I was so lucky to have a strong mind, that I was brilliant, that it would make my life so much easier.  My mom in particular tried to make me feel like a demi-god for being able to do basic math faster in my head than she could on a calculator.

young ryan 2

I think people were just trying to make up for not being able to call me cute.

I never wanted to be viewed as superior; I’ve always felt guilty for thinking positive things about myself.  I’ve always hated cocky people and have often confused this trait with confidence.  My therapist has been helping me deal with this issue as of late.  I’ve come to realize that cockiness is the inability to recognize your flaws and admit you might be wrong.  That should be despised.  But confidence is recognizing your skills and believing you may be right; that is something we should all have. Continue reading Intellectual Elitism in Vet School

Primary Care – I’m Actually Happy

I’ve barely updated this blog over the past 5 weeks and there are a ton of reasons for that.  I had a three week vacation which I spent with my long-distance girlfriend, I moved out of my dorm and into my friends’ house, I’m trying to make the most of my last year in Michigan with my friends, and I’ve started a new rotation: Primary Care.  Unlike with every other rotation I’ve written about, I’ve had a hard time coming up with snarky things to say about Primes Cares.  I think that’s because I genuinely enjoy it.


Here at Michigan State University CVM, Primary Care is considered one of the easier, more laid back rotations.  It basically mimics the environment that most of us vet students will be working in: an 8 – 5 small animal general practice.  Most appointments are annual wellness exams and vaccinations.  We run heartworm tests, prescribe flea and tick preventives, and do a lot of physical exams.  We also see new puppies & kittens, ear infections, unexplained vomiting, diarrhea, masses, and all the other things that general practitioners deal with every day. Continue reading Primary Care – I’m Actually Happy

5 Reasons I Love Veterinary School

I’ve written about ten blog posts on veterinary school so far, and I think most of them could fairly be considered “whiny.”  My professional reason for this is that this blog is supposed to be funny and filled with hyperbole.  The real reason for this is that I’m kind of a mitch.

But I don’t want my readers to think that vet school is all bad or that I hate the field I’ve chosen.  On the contrary, these past few months outside of the classroom and in the hospital have showed me how right I was to become a veterinarian.  So here’s a list of all the reasons why I love vet school and the field of veterinary medicine.

Continue reading 5 Reasons I Love Veterinary School