First Year Tips

May 2019
Laura Pelzel

Hello everyone,

My name is Laura! I just finished my first year of vet school a few weeks ago and I wanted to put together a list of tips that I thought would have been helpful as an incoming veterinary student!

Be open. Vet school is basically a whole new beginning for some. You’ll make new friends on day one of orientation but try to get to know more of your class. Keep your mind open to specializing in large animal surgeon even though you might be dead set on being a small animal veterinarian. Things will change in vet school and you ought to be prepared to adapt and learn from your mistakes. Join a few clubs and see what is out there. Open yourself up for those new opportunities.

Study. Find your way of studying and figure out what works for you. I found myself studying on my own like I did in undergrad but I was not doing as well as I should have. Then I tried studying in a small group and it was not for me. What I found that worked for me was going over material with one other person. But try new ways of studying because each class may be different and each exam within those classes might have a different professor.

Don’t study. This may be some of the best advice that vet students don’t know how to use, myself included. Work hard for that grade but don’t beat yourself up over one bad exam. Find yourself a hobby because not only is your mental health worth it, you still should live. Just because you are in vet school does not mean you should put off the rest of your life. I did the typical vet student move and got a puppy at the beginning of my second semester. Although sometimes he was my distraction from school, I needed that break and I ended up doing better in school that semester. Do something outside of school. I found that shadowing at a local clinic was a good reminder for me of why I was going through this stress. In your first year, you don’t get a ton of hands on experience and that was something I needed so shadowing always gave me that ‘spark’ to keep working hard because eventually, I will be there. On the other hand, sometimes you need to take a break from anything vet related and do something different. Find your distraction.

Talk to your professors. The professors here are quite amazing and they are here for your advantage. Get to know them and go to their office for help. They can give some great advice and are experts in the field. You might cry in their office after you failed their exam or you might go there for a stress relief joke but whatever it is, I’m sure they’ve seen it all. Some of the best advice I got from a professor was that an exam does not test your full knowledge of the material. Just because you did poorly on an exam does not mean you did not learn anything, you just might not have learned the things they tested you on.

As a first-year student, I felt like I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel because I knew I had three years ahead of me of hard work. The days seemed to drag but somehow the semester flew by and I have a feeling the next three years will go just as fast!

“Only a person who loves a challenge would take on patients who can't tell them where it hurts.”

I’m ready to accept that challenge.

Laura Pelzel