Sometimes being a vet student comes with it the unexpected feeling of inadequacy. Suddenly all of the high achievers you ever knew are thrust into what is arguably one of the toughest parts of their academic life, and you, who always excelled, who was always above and beyond, always in pursuit of the ultimate goal of vet school, always ahead, always ready, might find yourself swamped for the first time in your adult life. Sometimes, it might even seem like your classmates are better at this than you. I can say from personal experience, that entering vet school without the added benefit of having worked as a veterinary technician made me feel eons behind those students who could tape up a catheter faster than you could even see them place it, or get blood from a wonky vein in T -2 seconds. I did have vet experience, and I wouldn’t have traded my non-veterinary summer internships and experiences for the world, but starting out in the back of the pack never really occurred to me. It was like everything else I had done to get here didn’t matter unless I could hit that vein too. This is where my competitive nature comes into full swing, and helps me get past these kinds of obstacles. I just imagine a race. I’ve gotten there late and don’t get to line up at the front. Here we go again. Now I just have to run a little faster to catch up.
Sometimes, though, things like appearing (and I say appearing because we ALL have skill sets in which we excel and those that we need to hone a little more) behind my classmates really got me down. I wondered if I was really meant to be here. What if I had worked this hard, all my life, for something that I didn’t have the ability to do? Yes, I was one of those little girls who asked for animals every Christmas and played with the stethoscope my parents kept in the bathroom cabinet and dreamed of being a veterinarian one day. What if that was all for naught? If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in vet school it’s that I am not good at everything (nope, not even close), and also that this is perfectly NORMAL and OKAY. I can accept these things because I love to learn and it only means that there are more things to be taught. Over the three years I’ve been here, I’ve found the things I’m really good at, too. Unfortunately, none of those things happened to be many of the skills or subjects I needed first year…but I have even learned since then!
My best advice is to never let a semester get you down. Sometimes vet school isn’t structured in a way that helps you to excel. Sometimes you have to try to excel despite vet school. Don’t ever give up, though, because, chances are someone (like me!) has been right there in your shoes–eager and willing and trying and failing and getting back up again to do it all over. It’s easy to forget what we work for but if we remember the animals that we love, and the people we know we will be able to help one day down this long, exciting, and challenging road, all the hard work is worth it. And then some. We all deserve to be here and to get there one day.