We face many challenges during our lifetimes, including instances in our personal lives, jobs, hobbies and other pursuits. During veterinary school, challenges pop up quite frequently and can seem to accumulate before our eyes. Challenges arise in the form of exams, jobs, choosing our career focus, and many other areas.
I consider veterinary school to be a time of training that teaches us how to balance our lives and our practice of veterinary medicine. It is not a concept that is adopted easily or quickly. It took time to figure out how to maintain my health and good energy while pulling long hours of study and in the large animal clinic.
It took me a lot of trial and error to figure out how to be healthy during my day to day function as a veterinary student. I had to figure out how to manage a sleep schedule that accommodates time with my partner, overnight shifts at the large animal clinic, and the rigorous veterinary curriculum. There were quite a few times when I was overtired, hit rock bottom at 4 AM on an overnight shift, and struggled through the rest of the shift like a zombie. There were other times when I survived the overnight shift on adrenaline, only to get home and crash for the majority of the day and still feel like a zombie for the next day. After much experimentation, I now make sure to get enough sleep before an overnight, even sometimes taking a 1-2 hour nap during the day. This, coupled with sleep immediately after my work shift, tends to work well and allows me to get a total of 6-8 hours of sleep for the 24-hour period.
Nobody tells you how practically important nutrition and exercise are. We spend hours and hours sitting in classrooms, listening to lectures. It can be challenging. I have always found it easier to sit and focus in lecture if I regularly run, and have a good meal in my belly. It turns those hours of sitting into hours of physical recovery, rest, and all of it with good nutrition to maintain consistent energy. Having a dog also helps deal with the endless hours of sitting in class. A dog requires walks every morning, and this gets me up and moving early in the morning. It gives me time to enjoy the fresh air, no matter what the weather is.