Summer has arrived, and I have finally finished my first year of veterinary school! I have learned more this year than I thought was possible. For the incoming first-year class, here is some advice on what to do (and not to do) during your first year of vet school.
- Stay organized. In the first year of veterinary school, you take 18 credit hours of courses in the fall and 20 credit hours in the spring. That adds up to a lot of assignments, quizzes, and exams! A planner is a great first step for making an effective study plan. Keep your locker neat and double check that you have all of your notes and supplies before you leave class or a study area. It is very stressful to lose something you need for vet school!
- Be healthy. It is very easy to fall behind if you get sick, so make sure you are eating, sleeping, and exercising. Since you will be with your classmates every day, illnesses can spread quickly! Mental health is important too. You will not be happy all of the time during vet school, but if you are having trouble, talk to someone. Your classmates will understand, and the counselor, Lanice Chappell, is always willing to meet with students.
- Get involved. There are over 30 clubs for different veterinary interests available at vet school. All of them provide guest lectures at lunch or dinner and wetlabs with great hands-on experience. If you’re worried about overcommitting, you should still join any club that interests you, but don’t run for an officer position. If you’re not an officer, you decide which events you want to attend. Hint: lunch meetings are always worth attending. You get to learn something new in less than an hour and food is provided.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Dr. Herman, one of the anatomy instructors, told us, “Even an average student from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine will become a great veterinarian.” If you are accepted, the admissions committee believes that you will earn your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Learning the material is more important than the grade you make in the course. However, if you are struggling with a course, go talk to the professor to find out how you can improve! They want you to succeed.
- Network. Talk to your classmates, older students, and professors. You can find out which study materials are helpful and what job or research opportunities are available just by taking the time to talk to people. Attending conferences such as Texas Veterinary Medical Association conference or the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association symposium are great opportunities to network with veterinarians outside of Texas A&M. A friendly and professional attitude will open doors both during and after vet school.
- Have fun! As Dean Rogers says, “Find the joy!” There are many amazing moments in vet school, and a good sense of humor will help you survive the not-so-amazing moments. Vet school doesn’t last forever, so enjoy it as much as you can!