During the first 3 years of vet school, there is typically some time that you get off. At Oklahoma State, we get summers off our first two years, as well as a month-long winter break for first, second, and third year. Just because you aren’t in school doesn’t mean you can’t be doing things to better yourself and learn while you’re on break. Now that I’m reaching the end of my last big break before clinics start in May, I thought I’d give some advice for what I recommend to do with this time!
1. Take time to relax! Vet school is so difficult. If you don’t take time to relax while you have time off, you’re going to have a much more challenging time when you go back to school. It’s okay to take a trip, forget you’re a vet student for a while, or just spend time with family or non-vet school friends that you haven’t been able to hang out with. Taking care of your mental health is important, now more than ever during this pandemic.
2. Try something new. Between my first and second year of vet school, I decided to take the opportunity to try out research. I had always been interested in doing scientific research, and I knew this would be one of my only opportunities to see if this was something I wanted to pursue in my future career. This opportunity helped me realize I am MUCH more interested in clinical medicine than research, but I never would have known that unless I’d gone and stepped completely out of my comfort zone with this program. Most vet schools offer a summer research program that helps match you with projects that you are interested in and you get a living stipend. I highly recommend trying out something like this. You never know where you might find your passion!
3. Improve your clinical skills. One of the things I attribute to my success in vet school is the hours I put in at clinics before I started school and during breaks. While working and shadowing at clinics before and during vet school, I may not have had a great understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of each sick pet I helped with, but I could remember back to those cases when we started learning those physiology and disease processes during classes. This has helped me learn concepts and solidify ideas that will hopefully be helpful when fourth-year clinics start. I’ve also used this time to practice intubation, catheter placement, and client communication.
Breaks during vet school are a great time to relax and to learn. I think the way I’ve handled my breaks throughout vet school has been conducive to my learning and mental health. It’s important to plan for them strategically so that you can make the most out of each break!