Book Review: Vet Med SPREAD

Some time in the recent past, I thought to myself, “I wonder if there is a guide to help those who are applying to vet school?  If not, maybe that’s something I could write!”  I looked on Amazon and the result was the Vet School Survival Guide.  The author sent me that book and sent me the sequel as well, which was quite nice!  

Vet School Survival Guide 2: Vet Med Spread by Dean Scott is an amusing, but sometimes painfully real, look into veterinary medicine and vet school.  As with the first book, I marked the comments and comics which Spoke to me for commentary for this review.

A professor teaches a disease treatment that contradicts a previous professor’s manner of treatment.

-This happened to me just last year!  We don’t have a good mechanism to have everyone in the curriculum sit down and go over what we’re telling students.  I’m sure it frustrates them, because it frustrates me.

A comic with a baby on the lecture podium and a student saying, “Is this biochem or pharmacology?” and a caption “You suspect your school has had a difficult time recruiting professors.”

-The joke here is they have to hire babies because no adult wants to be a professor.  Nearly every vet school struggles to recruit clinical faculty.  I personally don’t know why- I think it’s a great lifestyle, career, and place to work.  I wish more people would look more critically at how great academia can be.

A comic with a student banging on a vending machine and a caption, “The vending machine takes the last of your change and doesn’t drop the life-giving candy down.”

-At one institution where we worked, there was a bank of vending machines with a prominent sign saying that the institution was not responsible for lost change- call the company.  Fortunately, my current employer has an open market where you grab things and scan them yourself and pay for it.  Much more civilized.

A comic of a student’s head down on a table with ‘slurp’ ‘munch’ ‘crunch’ around them and a caption, “You don’t really eat a meal anymore, you phagocytose.”

-Vet school absolutely incentivizes you to eat as quickly as possible.  Of course, this is not helpful for developing good eating habits.  I still inhale food as a grown ass man due to this ‘training’ in vet school.

Lecturers keep saying “ya know” after every sentence, but…. ya don’t.

-Eliminating filler words from a lecture style is surprisingly hard.  I have worked at it for years but still they slip in.  However, whenever I hear excessive filler words used by others, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

In the middle of arguing for exam points, the professor stands, rolls up her sleeves and says, “Let’s settle this outside.”

-I hate hate hate arguing with students about points and exam performance.  I think I have a solution….  Stay tuned for my report on a better system at the end of the semester.

Everyone in your class appears to have tentacles growing out of places that you wouldn’t expect tentacles to be growing from.

-I read this and thought, “Wait, what?  Where SHOULD I expect tentacles to grow from?!?”

The hematology, clinical pathology, and cytology professors don’t like you sending the test slides to the local veterinary lab for confirmation.

-I remember, during my internship, one of the surgeons speculated that private practice labs provide an actual diagnosis more often than academic labs because the former have a financial incentive to encourage submissions.  I still think it would be a neat study to do….

You start referring to vet school as your Tour of Duty.


You can’t help but wonder why physics was necessary for entry into vet school.

-I still wonder about this.  I didn’t like taking physics but had to take two semesters of it and I STILL don’t know why.  I have used all my other prerequisites- general and organic chemistry, biochem, genetics, even calculus for bio majors.  But I have not yet used anything I learned in physics.  All the physics-related things I need to know (which is actually a lot- gasses, pressures, etc.) I learned in high school.

Learning about parasites found only in obscure African provinces.

-I have to rant again about the “Teach less, better” principle.  I learned all sorts of minutiae in vet school that I never have needed.  Including obscure parasites.

A comic with someone waving their hands at a couple of bystanders saying, “Run away!  Run away!  Save yourselves!” and a caption, “Being told to stop scaring the Pre-Vet students.”

-I think the pre-vet students probably need an injection of caution as they look to going to vet school.

People can identify you as a vet student by your scent.

-100%.  Mostly due to the formaldehyde in freshman year.

A comic with several students in desks sleeping in different positions with labels and a caption, “Veterinary Student Sleeping Positions (part 1).”

-I do “the Prayer!”!

Every abbreviation you come across now seems to have a medical meaning.

-It is often confusing when I try to interact with non-medical types who have different acronyms to the ones we use.  My wife asked her pharmacy students to look up whether there was an interaction between doxycycline and TMS for an rDVM. They asked if she meant transcranial magnetic stimulation.

You know you’re in deep when you name your Irish Setter puppy “Erythema”.

-I ran some role playing games during vet school and ALL the names were based on medical terms.  Sertoli Tower.  Cruciate Fortress.  The City of Meninges.

Near graduation you have about $4,000 in class-required book purchases…. Never opened, class-required book purchases.

-I stopped buying most books after the first year because I rarely used them.  When I required a book in the anesthesia course I taught, I made sure it was the cheapest, most useful one I could find and even then it was only recommended.  Last year I taught cardiovascular systems and most students didn’t buy the book, even though it was required, because of many years of training that they don’t REALLY need to buy the book.  Unfortunately, in this case, they REALLY DID need the book, and many struggled to get copies half way through the semester.  So it’s difficult for students to interpret the “Required” books- are they REALLY required??

A comic with a teacher drawing on a board in a classroom with a glass wall and several people outside and the caption, “The Psych 101 students are assigned to study your class.”

-The drawing is one of lung volumes which I remember being tremendously helpful in explaining things like functional residual capacity.

A comic with Darth Vader Force-choking a student and the caption, “This is going to be a hard class.”

-I’m pretty sure most students feel this way when I start a class I am coordinating.  

The book wraps up with a Final Thoughts section, similar to the first book.  As before, I thought this section was incredibly valuable, given how short it is.

Overall, I enjoyed the book fairly well, but not as much as the first one.  There weren’t as many funny or relatable comments, but there were more comics that I liked.  Overall a very accurate, incisive look at veterinary education and medicine.

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