I’ve often talked about my love for all things pathology, and this semester I have been absolutely immersed. Being enrolled in Clinical Pathology and Systemic Pathology II at the same time has provided me with lots of opportunities to get my fill. And my fill I have got.
The overwhelming amount of information received between those two classes is astounding. Systemic was always a heavy course; having had it last semester, I knew what to expect. From going to clinical pathology rounds, I had expected quite a bit of learning because I figured we’d be learning about blood, serum chemistry, and urinalysis. Well, for each of those sections there’s many more sections. And for each of those subsections, there’re all the differentials for what could be going on. Plus, there’s the testing for each of those differentials and interpreting those tests, and I’m probably forgetting something.
The information we had to know for the midterm was white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Not a lot, right? Wrong. I worked my butt off doing practice cases and trying to cram all of the things that can go wrong with blood into my brain. Because it’s a class I like a lot, with professors I like a lot, I hold my standards a lot higher, so when I got a 70 on the exam I was pretty disappointed. I know it’s passing and C=DVM and all that stuff, but I wanted to do better.
Now we’ve moved into serum chemistry analysis, and if I thought blood was overwhelming, chemistry is even worse. It’s super interesting, and the professor I have now is one of my favorites ever. It is just amazing how much you need to know in order to interpret a chemistry panel. The first day we were doing a sample case, having finally gone through all the components of a chemistry (eg, glucose, urea and creatinine, sodium levels, bilirubin, etc, etc), I was so overwhelmed I thought I might cry. Looking at a serum chemistry is something you do every day in practice, so I need to be proficient at it, a burden that makes me even more anxious. However, now that we’ve gone through almost twenty cases in great depth in class, I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities to look at a complete blood work sample and come up with some form of working diagnosis. It took a lot of practice and reading differentials over and over again, but I’m thinking the final is going to go better for me than the midterm.