Third Year Responsibilities

It is the beginning of the spring semester and already I have learned more information than my brain can process in each 24-hour period and have spent more time in school than I have at home. With no summer break to look forward to and the forlorn feeling of having finished winter break; it’s hard not to already want to check out. However, every day that we learn new things that build off of my previous years’ knowledge, I begin to realize just how far I’ve come since first year and how much I’ve actually learned. It really is incredible to think about my undergraduate days long ago and how much I thought I knew about veterinary medicine versus today and how much I truly do know. While I’d like to say that retaining information and studying for tests are the only things I have to be worried about this semester, I would be lying to you.

Third year is a special kind of stress—you have more hands-on time, more “out of class” time, less tests, and yet somehow—it is the busiest semester yet. This is solely attributed to getting ready for the usually untouchable fourth year that is months within our classes’ grasp. During third year you get to pick your track, vacation time, rotations, and externships. Most of the class will decide from select pre-scheduled tracks including small animal, large animal, mixed practice, and food animal. However, a select few of us decided that we would rather make our lives much harder than they should be and go the alternative track route. This means that you get to schedule around 20 weeks – that’s 5 out of 12 months – of fourth-year schedule, all while juggling the joys of third year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the freedom and I am ecstatic about the externships I have received so far, but the stress of working out the schedule just right is almost unbearable.

So, my little golden nugget of advice to you, whether you are going to be in third year in the near future or looking to get into veterinary school and one day become a third-year student, is to think about all this ahead of time. There are a lot of tasks to complete and other things to think about just for the application process alone and once you are in veterinary school the first year is a long learning curve year of how to juggle studying and being successful while maintaining your mental health. However, there is a small moment in second year where you finally get a comfortable schedule of balancing life and school, and this is where you should begin to look at the future. If you have any thoughts of tracking alternative, start thinking about where you would want to externship or what your career might look like once you graduate. And remember, have fun! One of the best parts of third year is finally having the freedom to schedule out your fourth year and tailor it to your specific interests!

So, before you go and write me off as a pessimist, just remember that I am a third year. I have had long hours sitting in class seven days a week for three years and sometimes this takes a toll on your body and mind. A fact of life you should be ready for if you want to be a veterinarian. Even with the endless chipping away at my sanity by playing the “How long can we keep them in a classroom before a mutiny?” game, I find little pieces of joy every day. I remember the application process like it was yesterday. I remember attending interviews like it was yesterday. And, I remember the pure and full-bodied joy I felt entering into school as a first-year veterinary student. So, every time I go through these rough patches filled with stress, I can recall those small moments in life that shook me to the core with happiness and it’s easy to remember why I’m here. So yes, school right now is incredibly stressful, and all of you at some time will experience exactly what I’m experiencing. But, come my next blog post, it will be later in the semester with my fourth-year solidified (hopefully) and the pessimism of these past three years will wash away as I prepare to enter into the grand adventure of fourth year.

DVM Student
Class of 2018