As the many biochemistry, histology, and physiology lectures pass by in a blur, only one thing becomes more and more clear: how important it is to come to vet school prepared. There are many areas of preparedness, ranging from time and stress management to emotional and physical tenacity, but in this case I want to focus on the importance of being academically prepared (even if that means teaching yourself!).
I was lucky enough to attend a university with a strong animal science program that was uniquely tailored to preveterinary students. We were placed in higher-level physics and chemistry courses, to habituate us to a rigorous course load, and the onsite dairy and horse barn provided us with some great hands-on courses like Clinical Livestock Medicine and Equine Reproduction.
A strong undergraduate program will go a long way toward preparing you for vet school—I’m two months in, and about 85% of the course material are things I’ve already learned once. And believe me, I thank my lucky stars that that’s true, because not only does it ensure that I will better retain the information, but I’m also not nearly as overwhelmed as I would be otherwise. A strong foundation goes a long way in allowing you to build on that previous knowledge quickly and keep up with the fast pace of vet school. But mostly, being academically prepared for the rigors of vet school really cuts down on your stress level, which has a direct effect on your mental and emotional health.
So my advice to you is, take those prerequisite classes seriously. Don’t just memorize enough to pass the exams, but actively seek to understand the material…because believe me, you’ll need to by the time you come to vet school, or are a practicing clinician. Also, expose yourself to as many husbandry and handling opportunities/courses as you can. One thing I’m starting to notice is that vet school just doesn’t have time to teach us about both the husbandry and medicine of every single animal. They certainly try their best to educate us about behavior, proper handling, and nutrition, but often they expect that we already know (or will self-learn) aspects of animal care and management. And finally, learn how to self-teach. This is particularly important when it comes to gross anatomy, but developing study strategies that are particularly effective for you will make tackling any subject that much easier (and more interesting!).