I had a breakdown at school the other day. I haven’t been quite feeling myself the past few weeks since our exams began for my second-year of school. First-year for me was great. I felt like they eased us into classes and I was happy about school and confident about the outlook on my next four years. I’m not sure how it is at other schools, but second-year here is notorious for being the most challenging. It’s not that the material is hard, it’s just that it’s a ton of material. This semester I have parasitology which is fascinating, but for my first exam, I had to essentially memorize approximately 50 different species of parasites and recognize the host that they infect as well as clinical signs and lesions we would see. In addition to parasitology, we also have microbiology, pathology and my personal biggest anxiety producer—surgery.
I love the class, and I’m excited about doing surgeries in the future, but the class does put a lot of pressure on me that I’m not used to. Recently we had our first “mini” objective structured clinical exam or OSCE. We demonstrated different tasks for the clinicians and they make notes and grade us. We had 5 minutes to do 3 different tasks. One of mine was exhibiting the correct way to wrap a pack and I was given about 3 minutes to do this. I wrapped the pack and took my sweet time so it looked beautiful (and I think I did it correctly?) which in hindsight I shouldn’t have done. Then it was time to show that I can perform one simple interrupted suture with 2 square knots. Someone yells out the small amount of time that we have left and my hands are shaking. I put the needle in and begin, it comes through and I go to tie the knot.
Well I pulled a little too hard and my tail comes out of the other end and as I go to redo it, they call time. I look up horrified at the professor. He said something I can’t even remember because I was just trying not to cry. I immediately went to the locker room and just broke down. I just kept thinking to myself, “Why are you crying? Who cares, this won’t make a difference once you’re out in practice.” This year is going to generate some challenges, I can tell that already. I just haven’t been prepared for the feelings of pressure and anxiety that many people experience during vet school. I’m going to take my mental health more seriously and address it properly to give myself the greatest chance at succeeding, this year and beyond.