Dear future veterinary student,
Congrats on your acceptance into veterinary school! It’s been a long journey to get here and you should always be proud of that. Whether you were accepted on your first try or your third, I need you to always remember that you deserve your seat. Right now, you’re probably over the moon with excitement because this is such a huge accomplishment and one step closer to becoming a veterinarian! You’re about to embark on some of the most rewarding, exhilarating, and insightful years of your career but they will also be some of the most time consuming, tiring, and frustrating times too. I’m writing this letter as a reminder of things to keep in the back of your mind as you start your veterinary journey.
First and foremost, you made it! You fought for so many years to obtain the stellar grades, experiences, and recommendations that got you here. So now you can breathe! You’re about to make a strange transition from life at another educational institute and I’ve found that this transition looks different for everyone. The biggest thing I want you to remind yourself now is that it’s not a competition. Try to shake that competitive mentality off early because I’ve found that working with your fellow colleagues in this environment makes the world of difference rather than working against them. You’ll come to find out that there is so much material to learn and not enough time in the day to learn it all, take care of yourself, and just live life. So, working together and helping one another is going to be crucial. Whether this means group studying, sharing study materials, or reminding each other when things are due etc., you will be so glad that your classmates have your back. Work as a team because that’s the only way success is achieved in this profession. I do not know where I’d be without the study materials, due date reminders, and support of my classmates.
The most important thing I need you to take away from this, is that you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You may be thinking, “Duh,” but I’m dead serious. This is something SO MANY students fail to do, especially when they are starting off vet school. Take the time to exercise weekly, drink enough water, fuel your body with the proper nutrition, get proper sleep, and stay on top of your mental health. I often hear “I don’t have the time to do X,” but the truth is, the most crucial thing you need to make time for is your mental and physical health. You could study every second of the day, but none of that will matter if you aren’t taking care of these things. In order to become the best veterinarian, you must prioritize the body that houses all that knowledge and information. Remind yourself every day that GRADES DO NOT DEFINE YOU.
It’s going to be a shocker for a lot of you when you study non-stop for some of your exams and get lower than an A or B. You may even bomb them. I have failed many exams throughout my vet school career. IT’S OKAY. I survived it and you will too! It’s not the end of the world. Exams often “test” how well you know what the instructor is asking rather than your understanding of the material. If you fail, fail confidently. Review your exam, talk to your instructor, and evaluate what happened before you tell yourself you’re not worthy of being in vet school. YOU ARE. Vet school is hard. It’s a constant learning curve and sometimes it feels like you’re doing so much but never doing enough. Trust me, I’ve been there (a lot). Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself and prioritizing things that do not always revolve around vet school.
My next reminder is to explore this field with deep curiosity. You may be going into vet school thinking you want to be a general practitioner, a veterinary cardiologist, or an equine surgeon but let me tell you, you may change your mind! To me, that’s the coolest thing about this profession. There’s SO MUCH you can do with a DVM that you didn’t know existed. You will learn so much within the next four years that your interests will evolve and you’ll be exposed to new experiences that will shape your professional pathway. I encourage you to get involved in the clubs at your school, take on leadership roles, go to conferences, study abroad, and just take advantage of the neat opportunities that come your way. Being a veterinarian is so much more than knowing the medicine (obviously that’s important) but you NEED to be able to communicate, educate, and be an advocate for this profession. So take the time to engage in opportunities outside the classroom because I’ve found that my leadership experiences and networking opportunities have opened up a lot of doors (not my grades 😉).
Lastly, have fun. I could go on and on with all the advice I want to give but if you feel inclined for more please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Someone who’s been in your shoes, had fun, and survived it.