The hardest part of vet school is not learning any particular subject. It is not the hours and hours spent getting used to reading thoracic radiographs. Getting into vet school was a challenge (and a pain at the time!), but I have dealt with worse things in my life. The hardest part of vet school does not involve the late hours on emergency rotations, nor does it involve discussing the quality of life options with owners concerned for their pet’s well being. The hardest part of vet school is missing time with family and friends.
For me, this is an exceptionally challenging part of my academic career. I have always been at least 4 hours away from my home, and I am 8 hours away from my home while I am here in Ithaca, New York. Since I am not made of money, an airplane ride home is not a real possibility. Available time to get home and stay home for more than a few days tends to be fleeting instead of in excess. With a couple new nephews in my family and aging great-grandparents, I am counting down the days left before I can return closer to my home so that I can see these people more frequently. Even holiday gatherings take a back seat during veterinary school, making those uncommon moments when you get to see relatives that live far away even rarer.
We make a lot of small sacrifices during veterinary school. We miss out on lots of social affairs. We have intense class schedules and even more intense clinic schedules. Some of us sacrifice sleep while some of us sacrifice exercise time. But this hardest part of vet school, the time spent away from those you love, is no small sacrifice. Missing out on time with those you love is not insignificant. It is always hard for me no matter how I spin the story in my head. I understand that it is a reality of life, but that does not make it easier. Phone calls can connect us to those we love, but they are not the same as experiences in person. To remedy this sadness, I always remind myself to honor those that I love every day through my actions. It is a mantra that brings me comfort and lends itself to positive interactions with those around me.