For those students approaching their clinical year, CONGRATS! In my opinion, this is the best year of vet school. I remember hearing how dreadful and terrible fourth-year was but I am more than halfway done and have loved it. Some schools allow you to prioritize or preference what your clinical year schedule looks like so I wanted to write a short blog on my opinions on how you should structure your rotation line-up in order to avoid burn out and prepare for the biggest exam of vet school, the NAVLE.
So, what makes me qualified to write this? Well, I’m a fourth-year student already finished with half my rotations and have already taken the NAVLE. That being said, I definitely think I structured my clinical year schedule to help avoid burnout but looking back I wish I would have scheduled it a little differently in order to prepare for the NAVLE better.
Many schools break up their rotations differently, but at my school, each rotation we take is three weeks long. That means we all have 17 rotations during our final year. We are a school that does tracking (small animal track, mixed animal track, food animal track, non-traditional track, etc. ) so each student’s clinical year curriculum can look different based on electives, etc. Regardless of track or number of rotations, looking back, I wish I would have had more core rotations before my NAVLE. Prior to taking the NAVLE, I had been off-campus for five rotations (15 weeks). This included my externship, vacation block, and wildlife/public health rotations (counter as electives). Therefore, I only had around three rotations at school (Diagnostic Imaging, Large Animal Surgery, and Small Animal Internal Medicine). If you’re someone that learns extremely well just by reading and learning in lectures, then this advice may not be relevant to you, but if you’re like me and need to learn by doing, listen up. I highly recommend making sure you are taking rotations such as small/large animal internal medicine, small/large animal surgery, dermatology, neurology, etc. before the NAVLE. I also recommend that you don’t pile these on top of each other to avoid burn out. If I could go back, I would have made sure I took more of these core rotations that allow exposure to a diverse caseload.