Pathology Rotation

Sorry for the hiatus guys!  Before taking this rotation, I heard that it is one of the easiest, most laid back rotation of your final year.  They were absolutely right plus I learned a ton of very valuable information.  I encourage taking this rotation after a busy, long-hour type rotation or during the time you are really studying hard for the NAVLE examination (National Boards of Medical Examiners).  You get to sleep in (does not begin until 10AM), and you do not have to worry about taking care of inpatients or discharges.  The only documentation you have to do are necropsy reports that take an hour of your time at most.  There are also 2 quizzes and one group project.

Two areas of pathology that we focused on were necropsy and clinical pathology.  The clinical pathology portion occurs first in the morning followed by necropsy for the afternoon.  Depending on how many animals get dropped off for necropsy, we usually leave at 4-5pm.  I was a little nervous for the clinical pathology portion because I struggle with that course during my 2nd year in vet school.  After the first day of rotation, I was so thrilled how much I remembered from class!  That is the best part I love about clinical rotations.  You get the opportunity to reinforce what you learned and begin applying the knowledge to real life scenarios.  I also loved how we get to see the underlying cause of the animal’s death.  Sometimes, owners may not have enough money to pursue further diagnostic tests to diagnose the disease that is causing the pet’s clinical signs.  Even though we may not see the problem grossly, further diagnostics such as histopathology, infectious disease panels, and other tests will help us get the diagnosis.  In addition, over 90% of the cases you see in clinics involves Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Chemistry, so I strongly encourage that you make flashcards of what cause discrepancies of the cells and electrolytes (ex: decreased RBCs is anemia due to blood loss or lysis (death), elevated sodium (Na) could mean dehydration, a prolonged fever, excess intake, hyperaldosteronism, etc.)

Necropsy was enlightening.  There were many gross moments, but the findings were worth the process.  One case was particularly out of the ordinary that I had to dissect and remove organs from.  An armadillo was shot in his cervical (neck) area.  The reason it was brought to the school was because the person got some blood splattered in the eye, and he was afraid he was going to get leprosy.  Armadillos are naturally infected with Hansen’s disease (leprosy), but very rarely will people get leprosy from an armadillo, but our job was too confirm if the armadillo had it or not in order to make the pedestrian feel more at ease.

Overall, this rotation was absolutely wonderful.  Make sure to put “Vicks Vapor Rub” under your nose when you know something putrid is coming in for necropsy 🙂

Here’s what other people had to say about it!

(What was Orientation Day like?)

-Orientation at 8:30 in the room by necropsy going over procedures and touring clin path. We got about 2 hours for lunch and had to be back for necropsy at 1. Change into their scrubs before then (they provide scrubs and boots, you bring gloves). Meet in the same room and divide up the cases for the day. Fill out the pre-necropsy part of the form think through what differentials you have and what samples and test you want to run. You watch a pathologist do a necropsy then dive into the case load for the day. We happened to have 6 cases so we were there til 8 but it depends on case load.

(Average Daily hours on duty?)

usually 10-12ish for clinpath in the morning, necropsy 1-? depends entirely on case load. The day we had no necropsies we had to check in every half hour til 4.

(What is the attire?  When do you change into scrubs?)

-anything in the morning, change into their scrubs in the afternoon

-scrubs and boots in afternoon were provided = great!

-anything in the morning, scrubs and boots in the afternoon are provided.

(What do doctors/residents/techs constantly harp on?)

-Use appropriate terms and past-tense in path reports

-describe what you see–>don’t need to try to make things more difficult. Just say lungs were heavy and firm instead of “pulmonary edema”.

(What are some struggles to watch out for?)

-The smells! Wear a mask and put vick’s inside it (theres 3 containers of it in the necropsy room)

(Words of encouragement)

-Brought snacks and cold drinks to the path break room- was so nice to have them when working on reports at the end! Also, necropsy was really cool – really neat to see all of the different animals

-They don’t expect you to know everything! Ask tons of questions. Bring your computers/ipads and leave your valuables in the necropsy writing room NOT the locker rooms. Use your computers to look up differentials for your cases and to start your report then. Many times the necropsy form will say “puppy acute death” with no other details. So trying to think of all the viral, baterial, fungal and congenital causes for an acute death in a puppy is easier when you have Dr. google:) For the first 2 weeks, you can type your necropsy report and send it to the resident later. The third week you stay there and write it.

Through Him!


John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be


2 thoughts on “Pathology Rotation

  1. This blog is great, it’s like anyone can read it and go through four years of vet school. I also like how you’ve been equally studying animals and the Bible through it all. What do you want to do when you get out?

    • Wow, thanks Taylor for your comment! My plans after graduating is to work in a private practice or vet hospital for at least five years. I want to make sure that I pay off my loans within these five years before I pursue long term missions anywhere around the world where God leads me to go. There is an organization called “Medsend” and another organization called “Christian Veterinary Missions” (CVM) that I trust will lead me in the right direction where aid is most needed.

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