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

You’ve survived the dreaded Winter term of first year — Congratulations! Now get prepared for an awesome term filled with blood and parasites! Spring term was a lot of fun and had some great classes. Despite the fact that you only have a week off between Winter and Spring terms (and you may not feel well-rested upon starting back up in the Spring), you should be prepared for some awesome classes, such as Parasitology, an awesome, applicable, and truly fun class!


  • VMD400A – Freshman Doctoring
    • Overview: A continuation of freshman doctoring from Fall term.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Pass/Fail
  • VMD402D – Renal / Urinary
    • Overview: A course that is predominantly lecture based but has a lab element. You will gain a good understanding of kidney structure and function and this will be of use to you in second year when you start learning pharmacology and pathology as these courses really touch on your basic knowledge of the urinary tract anatomy and physiology. There is a math component to this class, but it is not something you should dread if math is not a strength of yours.
    • Recommended Books: None – just read the awesome syllabus that is provided for you on CERE!
    • Grading: Normal grading, there are multiple tests and they consist of multiple choice, math questions, and short answer / identifications from the anatomy and histology portion of the course.
  • VMD405 – Parasitology
    • Overview: Easily my favorite course of Spring Quarter — the professors are fantastic and have great, fun loving attitudes. There is a lot of work involved in that you have a lot of parasites to learn about, but it is manageable thanks to weekly lab quizzes. The lab quizzes are every lab period and they are cumulative, so you keep building your knowledge as you go through the term so that when it comes to studying for the final, you pretty much know everything and it’s just a matter of reviewing and getting the details down. I will warn you that it is parasitology, so you will be dealing with fecal samples and a lot of “gross” specimens. However, while it is not exactly a course you want to eat lunch after (though you will!), the professors make the material so much fun that you forget how disgusting and disturbing the little parasites can be.
    • Recommended Books: None. They give you plenty of materials and there are flash cards and study sheets that have been passed down from generations of vet students before us.
    • Grading: Weekly lab quizzes and 1 final exam. All are cumulative. The final exam is in the histo lab and they provide candy — it’ s the most fun I’ve EVER had during a final!
  • 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!
  • VMD420 – Immunology
    • Overview: In my opinion, immunology was the most challenging course of Spring Quarter. The material is detailed and complex and I had trouble grasping it. I did not utilize the textbook that was recommended for the class, but in hindsight, that might have been a good idea.
    • Recommended Books:
    • Grading: Normal grading, multiple choice exams.
  • VMD425 – Genetics
    • Overview: Despite my high expectations for this class, I was disappointed because I felt the class failed to delve into the various conditions that certain breeds are more predisposed to than others. The same professor doesn’t teach every year, so perhaps this will change in the future.
    • Recommended Books: NONE
    • Grading: Normal grading, no exams, just little projects, class discussion participation, etc.
  • 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: Normal grading, exam is cumulative from the entire year, but it is completely fair and shows you and the professors just how much you’ve learned over the year!
  • VMD432 – Endocrinology
    • Overview: A course that can easily be overwhelming and yet didn’t feel that way. There is a lot of material to cover so keep on top of things.
    • Recommended Books: None.
    • Grading: Normal grading, a few multiple choice exams.

  • VMD432 – Hematology
    • Overview: Blood – everything you ever wanted to know about blood and more! Though I am sure that you will learn more about blood than what is covered in this course, this course is an excellent overview of hematology. I really found this course interesting and definitely found that I learned a lot from it. I was even able to utilize my knowledge during an summer externship when I did a blood smear and correctly diagnosed eosinophilia! How exciting!
    • Recommended Books: None.
    • Grading: Normal grading, multiple choice exams with short answer histology identifications.
  • Electives (My Recommendation):
    • VME424 – Shelter Medicine
      • Overview: This is a class that is close to my heart and, in my opinion, should be required of all students in vet school. Fortunately it seems that the interest in shelter medicine is growing, even amongst students who don’t ever plan to practice in shelters. Fact of the matter is that shelter medicine is closely related to public practice and there needs to be greater awareness amongst veterinarians in general of the issues that shelters face: outbreak of disease, animal abuse, and pet overpopulation to just name a few. A super laid-back class that is truly catered to educating students about the issues that shelters face. There is no presumption that students in the class have previous knowledge or experience with animal shelters, so they cover all bases in lectures. Lecturers change by the week and are always experts in their fields. You can even be “present” for the lectures online as they are broadcast online during the class period.
      • Recommended Books: NONE
      • Grading: Pass/Fail. On a weekly basis, students submit a comment or question for the lecturer after the lecture is complete. These are not graded but are read by the lecturer and responded to.

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