Farm vet’s guide on how to survive vet school
That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, as part of this week’s Vet’s Corner segment, speaks to a qualified and practicing farm vet to seek advice on how to survive vet school.
- Assistance: Do not be afraid to ask for help from your lecturers, teachers, support staff, and fellow peers – ask questions!
- Be organised: Do not let workloads or stress mount – avoid taking the last-minute approach where and if possible, and do not procrastinate! At the same time, do not confuse working hard with overworking. Use your time wisely;
- Homesickness can be real: Plan visits home if possible, talk to family/friends and remember that you are not the only one – this can be a mutual feeling experienced by others
- Have an outlet outside of veterinary medicine school: various hobbies and interests – such as music, sport, partaking in various clubs/organisations/groups with your peers;
- Remember that your veterinary studies are part of your life, and a very important part at that, but should not become your life;
- Health: Adequate sleep, a good balanced healthy diet, and exercise are paramount.
- Do not cram: Cramming just before an exam can commit information to short-term memory. While this approach may enable you to relay adequate information in the exam, you may have no lasting connections to the knowledge and may not develop a deeper understanding of what you are actually trying to comprehend. Studying in small stints daily as opposed to a single study cramming session the night before the exam is more practical.
- Attendance: Always attend lectures and pay attention.
- Find a suitable study space: For some, this may be a certain room in your accommodation, such as a dedicated office, a sitting/living room, or a kitchen, while for others, this may be a library or café. Some students prefer to study outside of their living accommodation. Generally, a lot of people advise against studying in your bedroom because this is a space which your brain should associate with relaxation. For many, it is not a productive place to get work done. Your bedroom is for sleeping in, not studying, so do not make it into a second workspace.
- Studying: Find out what works for you as each learner is different – identify your learning style and adapt accordingly, but do not forget to take breaks. Construct a realistic, detailed study timetable – a study session’s start and end time, the topic you intend to explore/address and study method, ect. Whatever length of time you are spending in college every week, you could be spending the same period at home studying;
- Learning aids: Examples of some learning aids may include whiteboards, flashcards, spider diagrams, mind maps, coloured paper, wall charts, voice recordings (dictaphones or apps via your mobile phone) and quizzes. Buzzwords are key!
- Use other informative, reliable resources to your advantage: Keep up-to-date with the farming press, watch webinars from various stakeholders, including veterinary practices, podcasts, and video streaming platforms such as YouTube.
- Mid-terms/holidays: If possible, avail of opportunities to complete a placement, as this reinforces why you are studying the course in the first place and will assist with your studies and the transition to post-graduation life.
- Take time to rest, reset and recover to survive and thrive;
- Never lose sight of your end goal: Look at all the people who have gone before you and have become qualified vets. Many people dream of securing their hotly contested place at veterinary school, and it may never become a reality for several reasons, which may often be out of their control. You are in the door, and each lecture and each exam brings you one step closer to fulfilling your dream of becoming a qualified vet!