There were many things I was waiting to discover about myself when I came to vet school. Nothing deep, just pertaining basically to how well-prepared I would be for the curriculum. I worried that my non-traditional route would mean that there were holes in my education that would put me at a disadvantage, while hoping that perhaps in addition to the holes I also had supplemental knowledge/experience that I would not have gotten had I followed a more traditional route.
Now that I have been here for a bit, have gone through the first two (and almost three!) rounds of exams, I can see where I fall (more or less – grades aren’t in anyway well publicized, but I can get the gist of it). I would LOVE to be able to say that I’m freakishly intelligent and well-prepared, that I hardly ever study and knowledge seeps from my pores. That I scoff at the silly 22 year olds who flounder in my wake. But it obviously would be an enormous lie. The fact is, I fall exactly where I have always fallen academically: not stupendous, not top 10%, probably not top 25%, but certainly above average. Perhaps top 40%. 35% on a good day. Everywhere I go, there I am.
I’ve never been an easy-A student, except for in the easier classes (psych, english, etc.). I worked my butt off for my Bs, and I was happy enough with them. And that still holds true here, I’m afraid. I’m a little better actually – I’ve gotten a good mix of As and Bs, possibly favoring As, but it doesn’t come easily. Those dear dear students who piss and moan about their B get no sympathy from me.
It would seem that I was most poorly prepared in knowing HOW to study. i still struggle with this – others seem much quicker to organize their studying and they know WHAT to study, what professors are most likely looking for.
I am also poorly prepared in anatomy, as I never too any sort of anatomy course. However, I’m very well-prepared in biochemistry (two semesters! at harvard! whoop-de-doo) and physiology (two separate phys classes), and while the physiology has been helpful, especially when we did renal physiology, biochemistry hasn’t really helped. The reality is that classes here are much more intense than undergrad courses. So my classmates who did take an undergraduate anatomy class had to learn perhaps 5 arteries then; now, we learn far more so their knowledge is a nice step up, but by no means is it make-or-break and as far as I can tell does not give them any significant advantage. The intensity of the classes here places us all on a level playing field, and I have truly seen no exceptions to this.
I have a smart anatomy dissection group, but one girl just has a great memory. A TA will come over, point out 8 different structures to us, and she will clearly remember everything he said, while the words are swimming helplessly around in my brain. I wish I were more like her with the memory – what an advantage! I have to hear something 5 times, repeat it 10 times and THEN it sticks. But it does stick, thankfully. Just different.
As far as time management? Oh please. oh PLEASE. Admittedly there are times when it gets overwhelming, when I have several exams looming and start to freak out slightly. But seriously, being in school full-time is like a vacation. It seems scary, right? I leave school after my last class and think “crap! i have to study x and y and write z, blah blah”. But then it hits me: it’s 3PM. I have all freaking afternoon to do this. So I absolutely do spend a lot of time studying and all, but really, it’s a cake walk compared to working two jobs and taking two classes. And the beauty of it? It’s only like 8 months out of the year. I’ll have my summer off! Believe me when I say that I am enjoying this time as much as I possibly can. And don’t even question that this is the LAST time I’ll ever be a full-time student.
One area where I am extremely, optimally prepared, possibly #1 in my class is in experience. I’ve always known that technically, Angell was a big hospital and very well known. And not to put too fine a point on it, but now that I’ve been here, and heard about the experiences other students got at the clinics they worked at, Angell is leaps and bounds above any other veterinary hospital. I’m am so incredibly lucky to have worked there. In case studies, I’ve heard of, and can explain well (not fully, but well) almost all of the drugs and diseases we discuss: saddle thrombus, CHF, ARF, GDV/bloat, enalpril, lasix, etc., etc., I’ve seen them all. I’ve seen and done ultrasounds (though I had no idea what I was looking at), read ECGs ad naseum, run plenty of blood tests, etc. The one area I’m lacking of course is just routine medicine – I couldn’t tell you anythign about vaccination schedules, for example. But all things emergency and critical care, at this early point, I have exposure to. Indeed I have yet to hear about anything new. I don’t mean to be snotty about it, certainly none of my classes have been boring or uneducational, and this is my first semester when we’re just covering the basics anyway. But to say the least, I’m hugely grateful for my experiences, and yes, all those overnights officially were well worth it.
Ugh, i’m certainly as skilled at procrastination as ever. It’s 11:30PM and I have an anatomy exam in 14 hours. you’d think I’d be studying? or sleeping? both good ideas.