Welcome, veterinary medicine class of 2026! I’m sure everyone you already know in vet school is eager to give you the most thoughtful, inciteful advice as you count the days to the wonderful journey that is veterinary school. I thought about giving my favorite advice from when I was in your shoes, but all that came to mind was the really bad advice I heard. So I thought I’d share my bad advice with you and give it to you straight!
- “Make a Study Schedule.” Yeah, veterinary school is a LOT of studying. While there are some classes you crave the information for and could read up on for hours as you slowly develop “favorite” disease processes, there are also some classes you will spend highlighting slides when you hear “the NAVLE often asks questions about this” and then precede to scroll the memes on your class Facebook page regarding the exam you all got steamrolled by that morning. The latter may require a little more zest to begin to study for. When you are actually phone-down, deep-focus-alpha-waves-Spotify-playlist, coffee-is-made studying, it is exhausting. As a night studier, there are mornings after a productive evening where I wake up feeling like I hiked Everest. My eyes are heavy, my hand is cramped from drawing or highlighting, and my receptivity to new information is null. It is an unreasonable expectation of yourself to productively study on a strict schedule. I have found more success in continuing to keep on keepin’ on when I am being productive and retaining information, and learning to really listen to my brain and body when I just cannot ask more of myself at that time. If you force yourself to study beyond what you can hold, you end up wasting your time. Some days it’s more productive to go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
- “Study a Little Bit Every Day for Each Class.” While not absolutely the worst idea ever, if you do some basic number crunching, you’re in (on average) 6 classes. While 6 hours of studying each day is not totally off-base, how much are you really digesting in only an hour? How do you transition your thinking that quickly? How are people getting through that many slides in an hour? Maybe I am thinking about this too literally, or maybe I have issues with time management. Either way, I figured out what worked for me study-wise (spoiler: it took 2.5 semesters) and I haven’t changed it since.
- “Don’t Get a Dog in Vet School.“ This is, hands down, the WORST advice I got in vet school. I happened upon my dog as a surrender to a clinic I worked at before school. While I was already planning on ignoring this advice at some point, my dog has been one of the best parts of each day. A dog will force you to get out of bed each morning. Quite literally demand you to take study breaks by way of a walk, or even just five minutes of fresh air. There is someone excited to see me when I get home—no matter how I did on an exam or how overwhelmed I may feel. My days are routine in the form of breakfast and dinner times, potty breaks, and walks. Something really fun my dog does during my medicine courses is mimic symptoms of whatever diseases we are talking about! (You can imagine how fun the gastrointestinal unit of small animal medicine was.) But in all seriousness, my dog reminds me why I am here. I hope to nurture the human-animal bond in my future clients because I want everyone to experience the love I have with Sunny.
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