Summer Experiences

This summer, I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in Banfield Pet Hospital’s Summer Job Program. Back in March, I was assigned to work at a clinic in Houston. The program is designed to be a mix of working as a technician and learning alongside the doctors. While I was initially concerned that the experience would be canceled due to COVID-19, everything continued as planned!

At the start of the experience, I was asked to rank my comfort level in different areas- clinical skills, communication skills, and business skills. This allowed to me to evaluate myself and think of what I wanted to get out of the program. I was able to talk with both my assigned coach doctor and the practice manager to discuss my goals- placing IV catheters, practicing drawing blood from the jugular vein, and performing physical exams. I was eager to practice the skills I learned my first year of vet school in a real clinic!

Starting day one, I was surrounded by supportive and encouraging technicians and doctors. Everyone asked what skills I wanted to hone, and were quick to say “Tabitha, come do this!”

Not only did I perform routine physical exams, but I also got to do orthopedic and neurologic exams. I also became much more confident in interpreting diagnostic tests like fecal exams and ear cytologies. I even got to scrub in on surgeries!

Getting to put everything I learned into practice this summer really enforced that I love the veterinary medicine industry. I love interacting with clients, learning new things, and working with animals with totally unique personalities. I am already looking forward to everything I will learn this coming school year.

Do You Get Free Time in Veterinary School?

One of the most common questions I get while giving tours to prospective students is about veterinary students’ schedules, especially regarding free time. In fact, one of my close friends asked me this question a few weeks ago, since she will be starting veterinary school in the fall!

So, I decided to talk a little bit about how I schedule my time.

First, this picture is of my schedule for the past week. Here’s a quick key:

  • Dark green: Class lectures
  • Yellow: Class labs
  • Light green: extracurricular events (no, I don’t go to every one!)
  • Dark blue: my scheduled study time
  • Light blue: time with friends
  • Pink: time with my dog

Each weekend, usually on Sunday afternoon, I plan my week. I look at what exams I have coming up and what projects or quizzes are due, as well as think about my personal progress in each class.

I usually get home from school around 5:30 p.m., and then I give myself about an hour and a half to eat dinner and relax.

First thing Saturday mornings, I walk my dog around the nearby park. On Sundays, a friend and I are committed to going to church together. On Monday nights, another friend comes over and we watch “The Bachelor” together!

Now, you may be looking at this and freaking out. Let me say that no, I don’t stick to this schedule 100 percent.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like studying, and that’s OK! Sometimes, your friend texts you and invites you to go eat or to see a movie that starts in 30 minutes, and that’s OK too.

Part of taking care of yourself during veterinary school means doing what’s best for you, even if that means going to Raising Cane’s instead of studying for anatomy.

“But Tabitha, you only have time with friends scheduled once a week. Do you never see people outside of school?”

Good question! Often, my weekend study time is with another person. Study dates at Starbucks, or group study time at the house of the only person in my friend group who cooks, are common occurrences.

It’s all about balancing school life and social life, and it is possible!

Last, I would like to say that if you’re looking at this and worrying because you have never used a planner in your life—don’t.

Most people aren’t as… intensely nerdy as I am.

I have a friend who plans his week on a notepad and another who just goes with the flow and never schedules anything.

All sorts of people are in veterinary school, each with different learning styles and structures.

If you are currently applying to veterinary school, or planning on applying, I hope this helped you know what to expect, and I wish you good luck!

Instant Friendship in Veterinary School

I have recently started my four-year long journey toward achieving my dream of being
a feline specialty veterinarian.

Starting veterinary school is a lot like starting kindergarten: it’s a completely new experience, you miss your mom, you REALLY want a nap, and everyone starts to ask you “Did you make new friends?”

But I have good news for you—just like in kindergarten, making friends in veterinary school is as simple as saying “Do you want to be friends?”

Part of starting veterinary school was understanding that every one of my 161 classmates feels just like I do: nervous, excited, and eager to make new friends.

Luckily, we get sorted into so many smaller groups of students that it is so easy to get to know people! We have our student mentor groups, our anatomy lab groups, our physiology lab groups, and even histology lab groups.

The administration sorts us based on our animal experience and background, so each small group has a diverse amount of experience. This means that I have met so many new people who grew up different areas, see the world in different ways, and have differing personalities, but we’re all bonded by our passion and love of veterinary medicine.

Not only is everyone eager to be friends, but everyone has fully embraced the family mentality. Starting veterinary school has given me an extended family filled with loving, supportive people.

For instance, I am somewhat nervous about working with horses. When I expressed this nervousness, several people immediately offered to give me tips for working around horses. In return, I can help them learn about cat behavior!

We are truly all in this together, here to lift each other up and help each other succeed.

I am so honored to be a student in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and I know I am about to experience the best four years of my life surrounded by the best people in the world.