My name is Megan Nickel and I am a third-year veterinary student from Theresa, Wisconsin. I grew up on a dairy farm and completed my bachelor’s degree in animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) in 2015. During my time at UWRF, I worked in their animal welfare laboratory, at a local mixed animal practice, and at an emergency and referral center near the Twin Cities. Between my undergraduate degree and entry into veterinary school, I completed an animal welfare internship with Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods.
Megan Nickel, DVM
After the 2019 AASV Annual Meeting in FL, I traveled back home to continue some wedding planning, and then headed to southern MN for another preceptorship. I spent two weeks with New Fashion Pork (NFP) in Jackson, MN. I really enjoyed my time with the company and had great mentorship during my stay. I was able to gain confidence collecting blood samples from pigs of various ages and setting up a variety of ventilation controllers. I benefited greatly from walking through water medicator and fan calculations.
With just a few months left of veterinary school and all of my required rotations completed, I am on the downward slide to graduation. I have one two-week rotation remaining at ISU CVM and six weeks of swine preceptorships throughout the Midwest. The amount of knowledge I have gained in these past four years and the number of cases I have been exposed to has been unimaginable.
A lot has happened since we last spoke! I took the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), rotated through my remaining small animal rotations, signed a job contract, finished my skills check-list, and received my NAVLE results.
I still cannot believe that I made it into veterinary school, much less that I will be graduating in five short months.
As I write this month’s blog, I am sitting in a hotel room in Oklahoma, where I am completing the second week of my preceptorship with Hanor, a pork production company. Since we last spoke, I have completed both the ICU and Dermatology rotations at ISU. I first transitioned from nights to days in the ICU, which was a harder adjustment for me than working nights. I had a lot of swing shifts, which are scheduled from 10 AM to 10 PM versus the standard 8 AM to 8 PM.
I write to you this month during one of my ICU overnight shifts. Prior to ICU, I was on the Food Animal and Camelid Medicine and Surgery rotation. I really enjoyed the food animal rotation and got to see a variety of species for appointments and overnight hospitalization, including beef cattle, sheep, goats, and alpacas. The rotation started off steady with mostly beef lameness cases, but quickly turned into assisting with several goat blood transfusions. I learned a lot and enjoyed working with the interns, residents, and clinicians.
And just like that another fourth-year rotation is in the books! Since my last blog, I have been immersed in swine land. I first completed a preceptorship with Iowa Select Farms and am now just wrapping up a rotation at ISU with the Swine Medicine Education Center (SMEC), best known as “SMEC 480.”
The past month of rotations has flown by! I have completed two rotations, started my VetPrep program, and have registered for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and with the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine.
So far, my rotations have provided a great opportunity to get to know classmates that I previously haven’t spent much time with. Now that everyone is closing in on a career path, it has been great to create a network of species experts that I will be able to refer to in the future.