One of my great mentors taught me how to work. I don’t mean how to study or just arbitrarily go to work. What I am talking about is the day-to-day work that is required to become the master of a trade. In our case, we are the product that is being created. We are being grinded, like a blacksmith’s craftwork, with consistency, self-reflection, and an absolutely unbeatable work ethic. It is something that many preveterinary and veterinary students have become very used to on their way to earning a DVM degree. However, becoming skilled at working day after day comes with many considerations.
I am writing this on the eve of the start of my thrid week of veterinary school. The semester is still very young. But already, I have noticed something interesting about how we, as students, approach the curriculum. With all of the material that we are expected to learn, it can be easy to see how some people get overwhelmed. We have only so much time in a given day to fulfill what is required. You will hear this a lot from veterinary students. We may even study with a movie, or with our phones out next to us.
What I am talking about is sometimes referred to as “cutting corners” when studying. We have all done it. We may look at a figure in an anatomy book and say, “Oh ya, I get that. I don’t need to draw it out.” Or we may think “I remember what the professor said, I don’t need to ask again.” Or we may just assume that it is a good idea to play a video game after every 20-minute study session. I’ve been there and done that, trust me!
The problem is that now, we are in a professional curriculum. There is no more cutting corners. This education will directly impact our lives and careers more so than ever before. If we do not know something, we need to take responsibility for that lack of knowledge and fix it. This becomes even more important during group work, because it is not just our own education at stake — it is that of the whole group. We must evaluate ourselves to refine our habits, challenge our comforts and beliefs, and grow.
The point is that at this stage in our lives, the stakes are higher. Success is closer, and the rewards are even greater. The work we do and the facts we learn are more interesting than they have ever been. But with all of that comes a great responsibility. This is the level of responsibility it takes to be a veterinarian. If we are ever to be responsible for the health of animals, we must first look within ourselves.