CHOOSING VETERINARY MEDICINE
My journey into vet medicine can best be described as destiny or divine arrangement. Though I resided in Northeast Nigeria where 80% of every household have at least one type of livestock with the royal families having horses and donkeys, it never occurred to me that I will one day have something to do with animals.
I can still remember how we usually troop to the streets with excitement to see the Emir’s entourage on their way to the praying ground to observe the Eid prayer riding on colourful decorated horses. Even as a kid growing up, we were used watching horse racing and polo tournament. It’s amazing to think that with all this exposure to animals, it never crossed my mind who takes care of the animals when they got sick.
I was running a one year pre-degree or what other schools call remedial program in a federal university of technology at the time. I bought my JAMB form, completed my choice of school and course, and since there was provision for 2nd institution, to fufill all righteousness, I went through JAMB brochure for a suitable course. There, I came across Vet medicine, went for it and submitted my JAMB form. I was among the 21 candidates that were admitted to study vet that year through JAMB with 9 others coming through remedial class. Coincidentally, the 1st choice institution admission list came out shortly after I finished my registration and I was granted admission there too.
As a result of limited accommodation, I was not able to secure school accommodation in my first year. This was because I registered late. I had to make arrangements for accommodation off campus. By year two I moved to the school hostel.
My only challenge was adapting to a new environment and it was not really easy at first staying off campus. This affected my first semester grades, but by second semester, I had fully acclimatized, which also reflected in my grades.
PRE – CLINICAL / PARA-CLINICAL
Pre-clinicals and Para-clinicals include classes from 200level (D.V.M I) to 400level (D.V.M III). This is where the real Veterinary Medicine starts. Lectures commence every day from 8:00am to 5:00pm with lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.
Learning new courses like anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc is fun. Here, one starts learning new medical terms and starts feeling like a doctor-in-training.
For me, life in this phase is what I can describe as a triangle, from hostel to class to church. I basically didn’t have time for anything outside vet. With the increasing work load, there’s always the fear of what we call shot gun, this is an unannounced test which the lecturer gives at will.
30 of us entered into this phase with many already discouraged because of the stories they heard and the accompanying stress. As a result, some made moves to transfer to other departments.
I made up my mind to face any challenge ahead of me. I told myself that if others have gone through this I can as well, after all they don’t have two heads. I started studying over night, visiting the library during my spare time. I believe my little efforts paid off as I was able to scale through Pre clinicals with no problem.
In Para-clinicals, we step up to pathology, parasitology, pharmacology, microbiology. I seemed to enjoy microbiology and pharmacology more. Here, we start to learn about diseases and drugs and the whole medical thing starts looking real. How could I forget to include Public Health? A particular course (under Public Health) that almost ruined my vet career was Biostatistics but thank God!
Crossing the hurdles to clinical year is a major achievement in my school. Our clinic is located in town and crossing from campus to town is a major feat, clinical classes include 500level and 600level. Here, we were exposed to the real thing, offering courses like medicine, public health and preventive medicine, surgery and theriogenology. Prof Oyedipe made theriogenology class enjoyable for usa all with many of us having distinction in the course. I also had my final year project there under another wonderful lecturer named Dr Philip Dauda- who also serve as the head of department.
Clinic was a bit less stressful, most especially 600 level. We were shared into six groups namely small animal clinic, large animal clinic, Avian clinic, Ambulatory/ public health, and laboratory.
MY FAVOURITE LECTURE STYLE
I enjoyed lecturers that released their lecture materials ahead of time for us to study, so that when he/she comes, he/she explains and we ask questions.
I’ve had the privilege of passing through many lecturers as a student. Some are even pioneers in their field(s). Notable among them are late Prof Erastus Gyang, former VC Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdia; late Prof Love day Nwosu; Prof Daniel Saror-former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and former VC ABU Zaria.
BEST THING ABOUT VET SCHOOL
Vet school will always bring out the best in you.
I met my first friend during registration, he later became my roommate off campus. Unfortunately, he died during one of the strikes while we are still in our first year. I still made some good friends most of which are my classmates.
My vet school experience taught me that hard work pays, and that one can achieve anything in life with the right motivation and determination.
IS VET SCHOOL FOR EVERY ONE?
I don’t think so, not everyone has the desire to be a veterinarian.
MY CRITERIA FOR SUCCESS IN VET SCHOOL
STUDY VET AGAIN
MY LIFE AS A VET NOW
As a vet, I am into general practice, with special focus on small animal medicine ( dog and cat), poultry and fishery consultancy and treatment and large animal medicine ( cattle, sheep and goat). I can say it is fulfilling, though I’ve not got to where I want to.
Dr. Sunny Odeh is a graduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2013.