Yay, topics! Two good suggestions, and I’ll take them one at a time.
Before I start though, just a note: I spayed a cat this morning for my first surgery since late November, and it was fantastic! I was really psyched, because I’m still not as confident about surgery in general as I’d like to be, and my cat was TINY, which means her uterus was tiny and so that much harder to find (the surgeon in charge joked that I was doing microscopic surgery). But my incision was dead-on, I was able to find and exteriorize the uterine horns, close, etc. It didn’t take too long, I was relaxed and unhurried enough that I let the assistant (a 2nd year) try to find the uterus as well, and in general, I just felt really good about it. Hurrah!
Anyway, I was asked how what I feel about every academic semester compares to the general consensus about what that semester should be. And it’s interesting that that was brought up, because I also sometimes thought that I was living in a parallel universe compared to the rest of my class.
To begin with, no matter what* every semester begins and ends the same way: initially I’m excited about the subject material and don’t think the workload is THAT bad. Three-quarters of a semester later I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, and by finals week I can not imagine what I was thinking when I was excited about anything, 16 weeks prior.
But more specifically:
1st year, 1st sem: I think the general consensus here is that it’s not particularly a difficult semester workload-wise, but because everything is so new, the stress is still significant. This was pretty much my impression. I had a rough start, too, as I’ve said before.
1st year, 2nd sem: I think this semester is generally regarded as medium difficulty, particularly since the new and strangeness of being in vet school has worn off. I actually think this semester was harder for me than for most, for some reason. There were a lot of labs (large animal anatomy, neuroanatomy, physiology), which are exhausting and a huge time sink (never got out of class before 4 or 5); also we had Pathology that semester and even though I liked it well enough, it was strangely hard for me. Also generally the comparative anatomy and physiology has always been a trick for me to really grasp.
2nd year, 1st sem: This is a semester that everyone told me would be really horrible, but I quite liked it (up until three-quarters of the way through). The three labs from first year were replaced with microbiology lab, which was kind of enjoyable and relatively easy, and parasitology lab, which started with us mostly doing easy fecal floats and then turned into more of a surgery period, and path lab. I felt like we somehow had way more free time, and with only four major classes (Micro, Parasit, Path, Surgery), it was easier to pace myself and study well for all classes. Three-quarters of the way through I realized that my brain rejected parasitology, and it turned out to be the worst finals week, I think, because there was just a LOT of memorization. But up until late November, I really enjoyed the semester.
2nd year, 2nd sem: I’m not sure what the general opinion is on this semester, but I liked it even more than the preceeding one. Clinical pathology was an EXCELLENT class (excellent, excellent professor, and FINALLY learning what all that stuff on a CBC/Chem/U/A was was so nice) and we really started learning about Surgery. Pharmacology, which was supposed to be really hard, involved a lot of memorizing, but really the exams were always very fair (including the final). Virology and Public Health were kind of dull, but it was nice enough finally learning about viruses, and neither were that hard anyway. This was the semester of my highest GPA.
3rd year, 1st sem: You know what’s funny, I’m thinking about last semester, the one that ended about a month ago, and I can hardly remember what classes we took, aside from surgery. But I do remember that generally, this semester was great because of the subject matter: small animal internal med (I want to be a small animal vet, so…), surgery, more pharmacology…I don’t even remember what else. Hold on, I’ll look…oh, gosh, Equine medicine and Reproduction, how could I forget?? Maybe I’m going senile. Sad. Anyway, it was all clinical, all relevant, all interesting. It did get overwhelming towards the end, as always, but generally it was totally worth the effort.
3rd year, 2nd sem: I’m only a few weeks in, so of course I still love it. All I can say is that I should probably be taking more electives.
So that’s my impression. And sorry to sound like a broken record, but I STILL can’t believe that I’m a 2nd semester 3rd year. Crazy!