May 2018


My what a difference a couple weeks can make. My vet school career is now in the rear-view mirror and I am hurdling towards the real world…whether I like it or not.

My last few weeks of school were a lot of fun. I finished up riding along with veterinarians from Suidae in NC,  Iowa, and then spent a week with a swine vet in Nebraska. My time with Suidae was great. I saw a diverse array of swine production facilities and rode along with several veterinarians doing different projects. I also did some mixed animal practice, which was a nice change of pace. Beyond swine work, I went on a call for a cow having trouble delivering her calf, I did a neuter by myself, and I assisted with a splenectomy (spleen removal). Although I am not going to be working with these species at my job, I still benefited from the experience.

In Nebraska, I spent a week with Dr. Larry Coleman. I was able to spend time with him, as well as at some of the farms he works. Larry is well known in the swine industry for the exceptional care and high productivity of his farms. He has three farms that are consistently at, or near, the top of the US sow productivity charts. Due to their isolated location, disease pressure is not a major issue, however; this is not the only reason for the farms’ incredible output. Dr. Coleman and the farms work hard to provide “world class care” to the piglets. They have 24-hour care available, so that no sow farrows without the farm knowing. They also spend a lot of time watching and caring for the piglets. These farms are a great example of what a farm can achieve when you do the little things right every single day.

After Nebraska, I returned to Iowa for my last two weeks of veterinary school. I was on Equine Ambulatory, a rotation where students and clinicians travel and provide veterinary services to horses, ponies, donkeys, etc. at the owner’s own facility. I am allergic to horses and can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of them, but with the help of Allegra allergy medication, I survived. I have to admit, that even though they aren’t my favorite species, the rotation was a good experience. The clinicians and my classmates were a lot of fun and I learned a lot about horses in a very short while.

Thursday, May 3rd was our last day of rotations. At the end of the day, we were done with school…. except I was on-call for Equine ICU. If any after-hours equine emergencies came in to the hospital, I would be called in to cover the new case. This was not the most ideal way to spend my last night in Ames, but I didn’t get called in so that was nice. Friday morning we had a quick rehearsal meeting at the school to discuss the graduation ceremony and then we had the rest of the day to ourselves. In true Vet Med form, our class went to the Tip-Top Lounge for a celebratory cocktail. That evening, we had our senior banquet. It was fun to have the whole class together and to meet some of my friends’ parents. Saturday morning came pretty quick, and graduation went off without a hitch. I’m not sure if I was supposed to feel different after officially becoming a doctor, but I didn’t. After taking photos with family and friends, I returned home and had dinner with my family. It was great having my family at the banquet and graduation, after all the support they provided while I was in vet school.

Since graduation, I have done very little besides hang out with friends and have fun. Eventually I will finish my state licensures applications and will begin moving in and working in Independence… although I should probably find a place to live first. I am excited to get started and see what the future holds.

While I can’t say I loved every rotation or clinician, as I look back on my fourth year experience, I can’t help but be grateful to ISU for the amazing opportunities. I learned a tremendous amount, and although I have much, much more to learn, I feel confident that ISU has provided me with the tools to do a good job and become a competent veterinarian.

Dr. Brent Sexton