There are many things that never got done. So many unfinished thoughts, missed opportunities, and failed attempts that could have been successful with better prior planning. The grades could have been better. The work ethic could have been just a little bit stronger. More colleagues and classmates could have been happier. I could have been happier.
A little dramatic, right?
In reality, vet school was actually really fun, but it all could have been better. You can say everything in life could always be better. But just because it could have been better does not mean I wish things were different. I would not change a thing about these past four years. I would not have done anything differently; I would not ever choose a variation of the path I ended up taking. Yes, I missed a couple classes, made a few misdiagnoses on clinics, and revealed my inner grouch-monster after a challenging day or week. But the past four years produced a better friend, sibling, clinician, and Andrew (at least I think). If you are a 4th year student reading these words, I sincerely hope you feel the same way. You should. You made it.
Garry Shandling wrote in his journal:
Give what you didn’t get.
Drop the old story.
Try it, if you can.
How everything panned out produced the current version of me and I would never change that. We should all believe this for ourselves. However, there are a couple things I’d consider had I the chance to start vet school all over again. Below are a few things I didn’t get. If you are planning to go to vet school, are just starting vet school, or anxiously awaiting the start of clinics, I hope you find the pieces of advice below helpful. I hope you do more with them.
Grades are not everything. Focus on developing your personality and ability to connect with peers, faculty, and clients. This will serve you much better than some numbers printed on a piece of paper. Most of my classmates, who are average students (including myself), are acing boards and matching to some of the best programs in the US. They are getting some of the best recommendations and best jobs – all because they are pleasant, genuine, and real human beings. This is not a call to bomb vet school and never study, however.
Go to bed early, get up early. Give yourself an hour and a half in the morning before you need to be somewhere. Take this time to think, stretch, journal, get your head sorted out, drink a cup of coffee and eat. I am not going to explain this concept further – you just have to do it and you will see what I mean. It is not easy to do, but it is worth it.
The one thing you loved before vet school – continue it. Do everything you possibly can to continue doing that thing. If it’s a hobby, keep doing it. If it’s a skill, keep developing it. If it’s a relationship, keep building it up. Whatever that one thing is, keep it up. In doing this, you will not lose sight of who you are, which can definitely happen in vet school.
When you get to clinics, write a case report. Even if you are not interested in academia or research, this is something that makes you stand out as a future intern/job applicant. It also challenges you to think about everything you ever learned in class in a more clinical way.
Tell yourself enough. I am going to leave this one up to you, as everyone handles this thought in their own unique way. Remember, you are not a super-human or android or robot. You are just a person, and sometimes enough is enough. Sometimes it is better to do less so that you can achieve more. Think about it.