As the first semester of veterinary school comes to an end, leading to a much-needed break from the seemingly endless onslaught of tests and deadlines, I’ve taken a few breaks to reflect back on the semester and evaluate things.
Which study methods worked for me? Which ones certainly did not? What did I learn from this semester that I can carry into the spring and use going forward so that maintaining a balance between school and life isn’t so difficult in the future?
Certainly, maintaining that balance has become a huge aspect of preventing burnout among my classmates. Everyone seems to have found something outside of school that allows them to decompress and focus their minds. For everyone, it seems to be something different.
It’s obvious that in order to succeed in this program, it is important to take time away from the program, as backwards as that may sound.
Some of my classmates spend time with their pets (other than using them for palpation and physical exam practice) while others focus on exercise or hobbies. It may even be an activity such as sitting in a quiet place alone for 20 minutes. Anything to relax and reset your mind, so you can continue on and push forward.
For me, the escape I need to stay motivated has come in the form of my 2-year-old daughter, Camila.
Normally my wife is the one who picks her up from daycare in the afternoons, but when I’ve had a long day or I can feel the stress building, I let my wife know that I will be picking her up on that day, which saves her the trip on her way home from work.
When Camila sees me walk into her classroom, the reaction is always the same. She will instantly drop whatever toy she is playing with or game she is part of and yell with excitement, “Daddy!”
This reaction is exactly what I look forward to, and it is the quickest way for me to forget whatever is stressing me out or what exam I could have done better on. At that moment, just seeing her light up with excitement is the only thing that matters.
We collect her things and get in the truck while I start asking her about her day and what she did. Most of the time her response is some new song she learned or telling me about a book she read. It really doesn’t matter what she says, as long as I get to listen.
From there we go to a park, stop for ice cream, or sometimes just drive around for a few minutes before heading home for the evening.
Once we get home, it is back to business as usual, which usually consists of studying for me and dinner and a bath for her. She doesn’t know it, but the time it takes us to get home from daycare is the time I use to recharge and remind myself what’s really important.
I may have many motivations for deciding to come back to school to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, but one of my greatest motivations doesn’t even know how to tie her shoes yet.