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!

Vet School and Day Care

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.