The statue stands six feet tall and sits near the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. Scientists built this monument to honor lab rats. It’s a symbol of gratitude for their sacrifices to science. (Source)

Things I Learned in my First Year of Vet School

1. Vet school isn’t fun. It’s not supposed to be. You will spend most of your time studying until your head is spinning. But it’s also not unbearable. You can do this!

2. Cramming doesn’t work anymore. In undergrad, I was never one of those studyblr students that has perfect notes and starts studying a month ahead of time. I was able to get away with one or two nights of studying for most tests, and a few minutes for most quizzes. That’s not the case anymore. I plan out which lectures I’m going to study every day so I can get all of them in by two days before the test. Then I review everything the night before the test.

3. That said, even if you were a studyblr type student in undergrad, your previous study methods might not work anymore either. I used to just look over notes over and over again until I had a majority of it in my short term memory, spit it out on the test the next day, and then forget most of it. Now, there’s just too much information for that to work anymore. Or, maybe it’s more that professors ask much more specific questions on tests, so having a general idea of everything doesn’t work. I had to go to making flashcards using Quizlet to study, and making sure I go over all my lecture notes a second time once I get home. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, find something different, because you don’t have unlimited chances. Also, the earlier you start studying, the more wiggle room you have if something comes up - a mental health day, an emergency, etc.

4. Failing a test is not failing vet school. You can pick your grade back up. C=DVM.

5. You have time for just about anything you want to make time for. Now, you can’t do everything, of course. This is vet school and you have approximately 2.5 full-time jobs’ worth of class and studying to do every week. You do have to pick and choose things. But if you want to read books, you can do that. If you want to join clubs, you can do that. If you want to play sports, you can do that. If you want to go out on the weekends, you can do that. Now, you might not be able to do all of those (and probably definitely not on the same day), and you might not be able to do them consistently every day/week, but you can still do them. You just have to decide what is a priority for you and schedule your studying around that. And believe me, you NEED to make something besides vet school a priority, or you’re going to break down.

6. Your classmates can be some of your best resources. We all have different backgrounds. For example, I have a lot of large animal experience, which many of my classmates are lacking. Several of my classmates are from states where vet tech licensing is pointless because Joe Schmoe can come in and do cystocentesis, read ear cytologies, and place IV catheters, whereas in my state you can’t do any of those things without a license. One of them is helping me design my wedding invitations because she was a graphic design major. Discover who you study the best with and stick with them! And don’t count someone out immediately - my two best friends here are people who I thought I wouldn’t like when I first met them.

7. …and they can also be one of your biggest sources of stress. Especially if you live with them. Vet school is a lot like high school - you can’t escape the people you spend 8+ hours a day with. Everyone knows everyone. Word travels fast - you don’t want to end up being the one everyone avoids. Keep your head low, and avoid living with classmates your first year if you can.

8. You’re not competing anymore. Don’t act like you are. There are try-hards and gunners in every class. Nobody likes them. We’re all going to be vets in the end, so there’s no reason to annoy everyone else by being a teacher’s pet or constantly trying to demonstrate how smart you are. Nobody likes someone that complains about getting an 87 when you could’ve gotten a 90. On that note - DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE! Just because you got a 75 and they got a 95 doesn’t mean that they’re any better than you are or will be a better vet. You know what they call the guy that graduated at the bottom of his vet school class? A doctor.

9. You need a support system. There will be plenty of crying, and you’re going to need someone who can remind you that you can do this, and everything will be all right. Whether this is made of your best friends back home, your family, your SO, or your new friends you make here, it’s a necessity!

10. You can do a long distance relationship if you make it a priority. See #5. I did it, and I have lots of classmates that are doing it too. It sucks, but it’s doable. This requires a pretty solid foundation though - your 3-month relationship is less likely to survive than a married, engaged, or otherwise long-term relationship. It’s a good idea to take a hard look at your relationship and make sure that this is something you really want to spend time on. You don’t have time for relationship drama in vet school, and you definitely don’t have time to be distraught over a breakup.

11. Look at everyone else’s cadavers. If your school is anything like mine, you’ll be asked questions on everyone’s cadavers. If you get your choice of dog cadaver, pick the biggest one you can. It’s easier to find things in a bigger dog.

12. If you need help, ask for it. Whether this is for study help from professors, counseling from the school’s service, or money advice from the financial office, the resources are there - use them!

13. You have to take care of yourself. Sleep, actual food, and taking breaks are super important. An economics concept is in play here - the law of diminishing returns. There comes a point when the amount of studying you will need to do in order to get any more points on your test is so exponentially steep that it will actually be a better idea for you to do something else to improve your grade - and that’s called self care. You can’t know everything, so don’t kill yourself trying.

Mast cell tumours (grade III mastocytoma, confirmed by fine needle aspiration cytology) in a 6 years old male Jack Russell Terrier. Mastocytoma is a common skin tumour in dogs, and the lumps can have a variable appearance, some may even resemble a lipoma. Their size can quickly change from large to smaller; mast cells release biologically active compunds such as histamine that cause signs of systemic illnes. Agressive surgical excision is the treatment of choice, followed by chemotherapy( lomustine, or, in our case, vinblastin) or radiotherapy. Before and after the surgery, to minimize the risk of a systemic reaction due to histamine release, the patient has to receive antihistamines (hydroxyzine - Atarax and famotidine, a histamine H2 receptor antagonist). Grade III mastocytoma has a guarded prognosis and local recurrence is likely in most dogs. The cause of mastocytoma is unknown.


Eden went to the vet for a recheck today after her surgery in February. She had some shed stuck on what I thought was a scab on the incision site. We moistened the tissue and got it out. Squeezed the bump a little, and more stuff came out of the incision site. We performed a cytology just to see if there was any sign of infection, and it looks like everything that we pulled out of it was just a hematoma. So we are nice and healthy!

The techs say that Eden is the best patient. We can do anything we need to do to her, and all she does is occasionally squirm a little bit. This is including while we’re restraining her head, squeezing that bump on her face, and poking at it with a sharp object. She is the best girl. I love her.


Three skin masses present on a 15 year-old, female-spayed, Domestic Short Hair.  The kitty cat’s owner recently felt 3 small, firm masses on the patient’s left forelimb.  The masses were about 1cm apart and non-painful on manipulation.  Aspirates from all three lesions showed…


Copious amounts of these round cells!  Most of these bad boys contain discrete, purple (or metachromatic!) granules.  Any idea what these cells are…..?  These are mast cells!  Making this a mast cell tumor, sometimes called a mastocytoma.  These cells will often ‘pop’ when cytology slides are made, releasing the granules into the background (see all the free granules in the bottom picture?)


Cytologic diagnosis:  Mast cell tumor.  Feline mast cell tumors are typically low-grade in behavior - meaning they grow locally but rarely spread to other parts of the body.  In this case, the patient could be facing a more high grade tumor as she has multiple skin tumors simultaneously.  The presence of multiple cutaneous mast cell tumors in a cat is no bueno - many of these cats actually have disseminated disease.  In cats, disseminated mast cell disease will often shore up in the spleen.  No word yet on this patient’s next move, although I suspect these masses will be removed and a hunt will begin for internal tumors.  

11:14 || Here’s my first post as a studyblr blogger!! This morning I’ve started studying for my last final of the year. I know I’ve procrastinated so bad until the point of staring studying two days before taking the exam, but at least this is a subject I love, so it’s not that bad (I guess).


Cervical mass in a 11 year-old, male-castrated, black Labrador Retriever.  For the past two weeks the patient has been intermittently coughing, especially after voraciously eating his  kibbles.  He is described as healthy otherwise.  On physical examination his primary care veterinarian palpated a very large, 10cm firm mass in his ventral neck.  We got the aspirate samples of the mass and found….


…and found numerous apparently cohesive clusters of these mononuclear cells.  Their cohesive nature is typical of an epithelial population.  The cells look relatively bland - that is, they all appear very similar to their neighbor.  Such monomorphism suggests a more benign process…but we’ll come back to that interpretation!  Additionally, few clusters were associated with this brilliant magenta extracellular material - could be matrix, secretory product, or colloid.  What tumor type do think this is?!


Cytologic diagnosis: Neuroendocrine epithelial tumor.  Based upon the mass location, this is consistent with a Thyroid tumor.  Although the population looks relatively benign cytologically, canine thyroid tumors are usually aggressive adenocarcinomas.  Conversely, kitty thyroid tumors are usually benign and equine tumors a 50-50 shot on benign versus malignant.  No word yet on what therapy the owner has elected to pursue - but the prognosis is sadly grave :-(

On an aside, other neuroendocrine origin tumors (like insulin secreting pancreatic tumors or some adrenal tumors) have a very similar cytologic appearance. 

Mast cell tumor. In a cat! I so rarely see cats with external masses. Surgical removal was offered to the owner, they may proceed with surgery at a later date. The purple granules throughout the photo contain substances like histamine, which cause swelling, itching, and nausea in large amounts; they can be released simply by squeezing or handling the mass and in large masses could potentially cause anaphylaxis.


So very sorry for my protracted absence from the Tumblr community.  Life has been crazy lately…but things are finally settling down. So let the cytology awesomeness begin again!


Lymph node aspirate from a 10 year-old, male-castrated, German Shepherd Dog.  The patient had a recent onset of lethargy and anorexia.  On examination the patient had significantly enlarged peripheral lymph nodes.  In addition, spleen and liver enlargement were suspected on abdominal palpation.  Aspirates of the lymph node were acquired and this is what we say…


The samples were wall-to-wall lymphoblasts.  In a normal lymph node you should have 90%+ small mature lymphocytes…in this case I only found about a dozen on the entire slide.  Interestingly enough the lymphoblasts also contained these angular, white inclusions.  Any guess what these could be???  Based upon some special stains, we suspect they are accumulations of antibody!  Crazy to see them this angular though!


Cytologic diagnosis: Lymphosarcoma.  We even went a little further with this case and found it is a B-lymphocyte tumor.  Which completely fits with the antibody inclusions.  Recall that normal B-cells have the potential to become plasma cells, which make the antibody that so preciously protect us from microbes!  We also found these nasty blasties in the spleen, liver, and circulating in blood.  Thankfully the patient has responded well to chemotherapy thus far.

Fighting the Forces of Evil
  • *In the lab at Barts*
  • Sherlock: *staring intently at the centrifuge spinning*
  • John: *tapping his foot impatiently*
  • Sherlock: *clears his throat*
  • John: *side glances* So Mary says I could never have a superhero alter ego.
  • Sherlock: Why not?
  • John: Thank you, man! I don't know why not.
  • Sherlock: *shrugging* It's always plausible.
  • John: Yeah...
  • Sherlock: Not probable though.
  • John: *dead stare*
  • Sherlock: You aren't unusually strong for your size or any size. You aren't rich. And you aren't incredibly smart.
  • John: Thanks man.
  • Sherlock: You could have a superhero alter ego. No one would know. And no one would probably care... Unless you died trying to save someone. But then it would be more out of pity than-
  • John: *intense glaring* Yeah. No. I got it. Thanks.
  • Sherlock: You're more likely to be my sidekick.
  • John: Really?
  • Sherlock: Oh, yes. I did watch cartoons as a child. Lots of the superheroes had them.
  • John: You're not a superhero, Sherlock.
  • Sherlock: No. *saddened* No I'm not.
  • John: *whining* Can't Molly be your sidekick?
  • Sherlock: No.
  • John: *shrugging* I could be the friend that helps out.
  • Sherlock: No.
  • John:
  • Sherlock: She's part of the other superhero group.
  • John: Much more liked I assume.
  • Sherlock: Oh, yes. Of course. Mary's part of it too.
  • John: *hand on his hip* Oh is she now?
  • Sherlock: Mm. Molly's partner, fighting the forces of evil.
  • John: She's a partner and I'm not?
  • Sherlock: None of us are actually superheroes John.
  • John: *crestfallen* Yeah I know.
  • Sherlock: *takes out samples from the centrifuge*
  • John: You and Molly would be like Mr. Incredible and Elasti-girl.
  • Sherlock: Who?
  • John: Never mind.