A First Year’s Guide to UCD SVM: Fall Term Books & Classes

First day of fall term, you all gather in Valley Hall and, upon seeing your classmates in their normal street clothes, you feel your mind going blank as you struggle to remember the names of the people you’ve spent the past week bonding with. Don’t worry, everyone’s experiencing the same thing; just reintroduce yourselves!

Fall term is exciting and terrifying. You have no idea what to expect, but you are coming into vet school with such enthusiasm for being here that the fear almost goes unnoticed until the first exam approaches and panic sets in. Don’t worry — you’ll be fine. Just remember the skills you acquired during orientation and put them to use on a regular basis and you will be just fine. Remember: team work is your friend in vet school!


  • VMD400A – Orientation
    • Overview: This really is Orientation but named Freshman Doctoring. The doctoring series continues throughout your years at UCD SVM, but this is the start of it — building good relationships, communication and teamwork skills. There aren’t really professors so much as leaders. In the past Don Klingborg has been the “course leader” but he has moved on. There are “experienatial” leaders who are hired to help in addition to upper classmen.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Pass/Fail
  • VMD401A – Locomotor Anatomy

    • Overview: By far one of my favorite classes ever. You’ll be spending many hours on weekdays and weekends in Vet Med 3A examining your cadavers and prosections (NOTE: Prosection = predissected cadaver). Covers the bones and musculature.
    • Recommended Books:
      • Miller’s Anatomy of the Dog. Make sure to get a copy with the electronic copy as it will make your life easier by not having to lug that giant text about. You’ll be able to look everything up on your computer with a great search feature!
      • Pasquini’s Anatomy of Domestic Animals. Not required, but I had this from a course I took through Colorado State and it was amazingly helpful in lab!
      • Dyce’s Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy. I still have mine in shrink wrap, but I am told it will be of great use for individuals interested in species other than dogs.
    • Grading: Normal grading, lab practicals and lecture exams.
  • VMD402A – Cardiovascular Anatomy
    • Overview: This class is fast and dirty but gives you everything you need to know about the anatomy of the heart. It starts late in the term but don’t worry, it’s totally manageable! You’ll leave with a great appreciation for how complex the heart is. The lab portion is great and the professor spends time during class and even on the weekends before the final in the lab with you to help you with any questions you may have. Awesome class, awesome professor!
    • Recommended Books: Same as your anatomy books — Miller’s and Pasquini
    • Grading: Normal grading, one exam with a lab and lecture portion.
  • VMD403 – Physiological Chemistry
    • Overview: People say you are either most challenged by anatomy or p-chem during first year. Well, anatomy was a piece of cake for me, so you can guess how I felt about p-chem. (And no, it’s not physical chemistry. Physiological chemistry is more like advanced biochemistry.) This class is every day at 11am (right before lunch!) so bring a snack to help sustain your ability to focus. There are multiple professors who divide the load of teaching and some of them are better at teaching than others (at least that’s my opinion). There are multiple tests (3 or 4) so your grade is not dependent upon your performance on just one exam. (Check out the Phantom of P-Chemistry Video created by the Class of 2013 for the 2009 Turkey Roast, starring your beloved P-Chem professors!)
    • Recommended Books: Any decent biochemistry book you might have from undergrad.
    • Grading: Normal grading, multiple exams.
  • VMD406 – Behavior
    • Overview: This class starts somewhere towards the beginning of the fall term and finishes up within 2 weeks or so. It’s fast but a fun, quick, and dirty introduction to animal behavior. I am sure each and every student will learn something new during this class.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Normal grading, group final
  • VMD409 – Epidemiology
    • Overview: This class I found challenging as it was difficult for me to grasp the material. The professor means well and will definitely make himself available to help you understand the material or a concept if you need it. (Seriously — he has office hours in the Foyer of Valley Hall. All you need to do is go up to him and ask away!)
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Normal grading, one final exam (taken on CERE in 2009, rumor has it that it was previously a group exam)
  • VMD415A – Nursing
    • Overview: Starting in the beginning of fall term you will be assigned nursing shifts in the following areas: Small Animal (2 nights in the same week for 3 hours), CAPE (Exotics, 4 days in a row in a week, for one hour per day), Farm Animal (1 night for 3 hours), and Equine (1 night for 3 hours). These are all scheduled after 5pm, which means they do run the risk of conflicting with electives (check your schedules and clear up any conflicts before they happen!). Do not miss a nursing session as they are not easy to make up — often inconveniently scheduled before finals or during finals. Nursing sessions are intended to give you a brief overview and exposure to all of the various tracks of medicine we offer at UC Davis. I think it’s great as some people come in to vet school confident that they want to do Small Animal Medicine but have never worked with exotics/wildlife, or horses before and find their passion in another field. I think it’s great and I’ve definitely had great experiences with most of my Nursing Sessions. Check out my post about Equine Nursing.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Pass/Fail, just show up!
  • VMD427 – Histology
    • Overview: This class will quickly give you the vocabulary you’ll need to describe what you see when you look at tissue samples with the aid of a microscope. It’s a fun class and you’ll learn a ton.
    • Recommended Books:
    • Grading: Normal grading, multiple exams that have a lecture and lab component. The lab component consists of slides that are projected via powerpoint onto the screen in Valley Hall for you to identify. The final exam was a lot of fun!
  • VMD430 – Radiology
    • Overview: One of my favorite classes, this class is in a series; you will have radiology every quarter of first year and they all add up to contribute to one general grade for all 3 quarters. The professors are amazing and have a great sense of humor, keeping you laughing for the entire year. People definitely seemed to look forward to radiology! I know I learned a ton in this class and id definitely got me thinking about a future career as a radiologist.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: One exam per quarter, averaged over the year to give you a final grade for all 3 quarters. Exams are online and open note.
  • VMD436 – Ethics
    • Overview: Definitely the least “vet” related class you’ll take during first year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important or applicable in your future. The professor is not a veterinarian, but a lawyer and does his best to get you thinking about ethical issues and the law as it pertains to veterinary medicine. If you get involved and make the class interactive, it will be more enjoyable.
    • Recommended Books: NONE. The professors own book is on reserve in the library, so I wouldn’t worry at all about buying a copy for yourself. You’ll need to refer to this book for your final paper, but otherwise it’s not necessary to read/purchase.
    • Grading: Normal grading, one final paper.
  • Electives (My Recommendation):
    • VSR401 – Small Animal Radiology Case Discussions (OR VSR402 – Large Animal Radiology Case Discussions)
      • Overview: Low key class that consists of cases being presented in the form of radiographs being projected on the screen in the front of the classroom. A laser pointer is passed around and students are able to chime in to help evaluate the patient. You can point out anything from things that are clearly not wrong, to things that are clearly wrong and you’ll all learn a great deal.
      • Recommended Books: NONE
      • Grading: Pass/Fail. Based upon attendance, but attendance was never taken for my class, so it’s more so on the Honor system. You can re-take this class for credit!

Anatomy of Domestic Animals

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