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Finding the Joy

I'm sure we all remember when we opened our acceptance letter to veterinary school. I admit, I screamed. Our hard work had finally paid off! All the sweat, blood, and tears that went into filling out applications, taking the GRE, and slaving over books had been worth it. For many of us this was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I talked to the teacher who screened me for kindergarten about hippopotamuses, and told my second grade teacher that if I could have more of anything, I would pick cats. Acceptance to vet school meant I got to work with animals every day for the rest of my life! What many of us didn't realize, however, is that veterinary school is the beginning of a journey, not an end.

I see the first years in the fishbowl every day waiting for anatomy and remember how much of a shock that class was for me. I became discouraged really fast when I realized I had to learn every little bump on every little dog bone when the only thing I was familiar with was a human funny bone. Even now, though I've learned to tolerate the "drinking out of a fire hose" amount of information, I still worry about setting up externships for fourth year, organizing my wet lab for ZEW, and networking to find a job. Being in school is like a full time job, except it doesn't end at five when you leave the building. It's easy to become exhausted!

However, even when life's worries pile up, I have to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for. I've already had so many great experiences! Just today I got to do my first surgery on a goat. How cool is that?? And last week, I did my first thorough eye exam on a horse. I felt pretty grown up using all the fancy instruments with some authority. This summer I went to the northeast and learned the basics of marine and aquatic medicine, which included penguin handling and seal phlebotomy. Those are experiences I'll never forget.

Besides, we have to remember that veterinary school is not just about the animals; it's about the people as well. Some of my very best friends are fellow students. We're in class together, we study together, and we hang out every weekend. They understand what it's like to cry over a physiology test or to get excited about palpating a cow. And it's not just the students that make life great, my professors have been fantastic mentors and friends. The relationships I develop here are priceless, and I should treasure every moment I have to spend with my future colleagues.

Though tests can get stressful, it pays to remember why we're in veterinary school, and how excited we were to get in. For, as Louis L'amour said, "The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you were traveling for."