In the flurry of NAVLE results, it’s easy to remember that NAVLE result day was not a day of relief and celebration for all of my classmates and colleagues at other veterinary schools. For some, it was a sobering day, a day of emotions that I can only imagine processing in my worst anxiety attacks, a day of having to watch your peers exuberant around you.
There’s a well-shared post that floats around every NAVLE season, and I think it’s an important reminder for every vet student at that time of year to remember that there is so much that the NAVLE fails to test.
The NAVLE is a day long exam that is meant to tie together every shred of veterinary medical info, for every veterinary species, and I don’t know that I am aware of any veterinarian who in a single day of work references all of the veterinary knowledge for every veterinary species when they get to the clinic. The technical skill required to take the NAVLE requires just enough dexterity to move a computer mouse to pick your answer selection. It is long, it is arduous, and it is incomplete.
The NAVLE cannot test the proficiency with which you can thread a catheter into a dehydrated patient. Or bandage a limb and the care you take to decorate it so that it is a little less frightening when the whole family comes to visit their pet in hospital.
It cannot test the observation skills that you have honed – that you have keyed into your patients and can merely walk through the ward and notice when something seems off with the animals in your care.
It cannot test your ability to communicate with your clients: the gentle manner you’ve learned to deliver bad news, the tact and compassion you’ve amassed when being with clients while they say goodbye to their 4-legged family members, the leadership and camaraderie you’ve grown into working with a veterinary team, and the passion and motivation that you’ve continued to hold for the veterinary field.
It doesn’t measure the grit your amassed, the resilience you’ve had to adopt, the physical, mental and emotional gymnastics you’ve had to become accustomed to just throughout each day at the clinic.
The NAVLE has no way of truly testing the kind of doctor you are going to become. Because the veterinary medical profession (all medical professions, really) are so much more than just the information. All the facts of all the diseases, and treatments and medications; side effects and diagnostics…that’s all the black and white. But this profession is far from being that cut and dry, and between all those big categories that the NAVLE tests are so many shades of grey. It’s those nuances, the soft skills, the integration of knowledge, the humanity and compassion and empathy that make a good doctor. And that’s where the NAVLE fails us.
To everyone during NAVLE score season, I look forward to graduation where I can call you *all* ‘Doctor’, join this profession, and have a support system of amazing colleagues.