If you are considering applying to veterinary school, please know that this post is dedicated to you! Vet school can be a very enjoyable experience at times, and it can be dreadful at others. A lot is expected of vet students within the confines of vet school and outside of it, in the lecture hall and in the clinic, in the exam room and in the operating room. It can be extremely rewarding to get to the end of the semester (or even the day) having successfully juggled these commitments. But, as with any graduate program or any educational pursuit in life, it comes with obstacles.
One of the greatest gifts my dad has given me is the ability to think. The featured image involves an algorithm with which he challenged me back when I was a kid in elementary school (shout out to the New Orleans Jewish Day School!). In a set of fifteen boxes, two of which contain Uranium-238 and the rest empty), what is the least number of attempts that can be made using a Geiger counter to ensure that the two radioactive isotopes are identified? Albeit an atypical “mind game” to be presented to a kid, it’s a fun thought experiment! And it serves as a reminder of the importance of creating decision trees in medicine!
It will be funny for some to read, but I think that one of the biggest challenges I have encountered in school is how to learn. Well, let me clarify that: how to learn to think like a clinician. It involves a combination of thinking on one’s feet and memorization. Medicine can be simplistically defined as lists upon lists of differentials, tests, and treatments. The clinician’s job is to prioritize which ones make it to the top of every list and therefore which diagnostic and treatment pathways are pursued; this is a product of book knowledge, and experience-informed illness scripts.
Prior to vet school, I was not used to reasoning in a clinical setting nor making lists. It has been and continues to be challenging. Thinking back to my dad’s radioactive question has served as a reminder of the importance of adapting my mind. My challenge to you is to think about how you learn best, embrace it, and understand that it may need to be tweaked as your journey through medicine unfolds. Best of luck!