The NAVLE, or “North American Veterinary Licensing Examination,” is debatably the most important exam you will take in veterinary school. This is the exam that will qualify you to obtain your license to practice veterinary medicine. There’s a lot riding on this exam which explains the ridiculous amount of anxiety students have before and after taking it. While you do receive a score on the exam, the purpose is to simply pass. The licensing boards only care about a passing score.
While the majority of students that sit for the exam will pass on their first attempt, there is still a significant number of students that do not pass on their first attempt. If you’re a student that falls in the latter category, read on. This blog post is for you. I think it’s important to hear a perspective that can help lift your spirits.
Despite what we want to believe, failure is part of life. Even more importantly, failure is a part of growth. So even though your score report said the word “fail,” it’s important for you to realize that you’re not a failure. In fact, I think that in the long run you may be better off than those that passed on their first attempt. Hear me out.
Not succeeding at something at first is one of, if not the, best way to learn and improve. This can be said for most anything in life, but especially in veterinary medicine. Just think about an old exam you took (and were able to review your answers). If you were to take that same exam again today, I would bet that you would answer correctly the questions you got wrong the first time and miss some of the questions you got right the first time. Why? Because when you reviewed the questions you originally got wrong, you truly learned the correct answer. So if it’s a surgical case, a medicine case, or a client communication mishap that didn’t go as planned, chances are you won’t make that same mistake again.
As for the NAVLE, we honestly don’t really care which specific questions we got right or wrong. It’s all about passing and failing. But my point here is that this experience is one of adversity. When (yes, when…not if) you pass the NAVLE, you’ll gain so much confidence in yourself that next time you face adversity in your career or life, you’ll be able to approach it with a higher degree of confidence.
So if you’re facing imposter syndrome right now, use this opportunity to prove those thoughts and feelings in your head wrong. Show that “proverbial imposter” that you have what it takes. You just have to pass this exam once. I think of it as similar to the saying, “What do you call the person who finishes last in veterinary school? A veterinarian.” No one is going to care one, ten, or fifty years down the road how many times it took you to pass the NAVLE.
So don’t let this one minor event in your career get you down. Get yourself back up, prepare again, go into the exam with confidence, and rock it. You are your biggest supporter and your biggest critic. Let the supporter be the one who calls the shots.