In a few months, I’ll be taking what is almost certainly the biggest, baddest test of my life: the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Affectionately known as the NAVLE, which sounds a little more like the name of an obscure exotic small mammal that is cute and much less threatening than a test that will determine whether I get to be the thing I’ve worked my whole life to become… This test gives us a license to practice veterinary medicine, and a later test gives a license for the state we end up practicing in. It does, not, however, give freely or easily.
We spend our whole four years building a framework of “doctor thinking” in our minds in order to be better prepared for a future in this profession, yes, but also to pass the NAVLE. We spend three years of our lives holed up in classrooms and study rooms and libraries, and a fourth year working nonstop in the clinics in order to pass the NAVLE and be licensed to practice the profession we have worked so hard to join. We have study parties and panic moments and triumphs and failures and we take the NAVLE in the hope that all of those highs and lows will be worth the long hours and the impossible stress of vet school. We look forward to the NAVLE as both the end of school and the beginning of our careers, and as the stepping stone toward the rest of our lives (whether we go on to internships, residencies, or private practices). The NAVLE looms, but it will not defeat us! Solidarity, my fourth-year vet student colleagues, and friends, we’ve only got a little way left to go!