Dealing with stress
Dealing with stress is an important issue during the vet school application and there will be plenty more to deal with when you get to vet school I’m afraid! The universities try and support you in several ways, with trained peer supporters, personal tutors, senior tutors and head of years and student support services (like counselling) always willing to lend an ear.
The main thing I found helpful was to have a friend network of vets students and non-vet students at university. Vets understand what you’re going through as you’re all trying to get through it together. However, non-vet friends can help you take a step back from the stressful situation, provide different perspectives and help you take your mind off the stress and to remember to enjoy being a student!
The universities are full of various sports teams, and any society you can think of! I encourage anyone in vet school to get involved with as much extra-curricular things as possible to release yourself from the stress of the vet world and have some fun!
And of course, if it all gets too much a trip home for some looking after and home comforts does a world of good!
Vet school can be very stressful at times - you have more content to learn than you ever have before, you are in a completely new environment with new commitments and challenges and it can be easy to let this get on top of you sometimes. This is completely normal! Everyone goes through periods of thinking that vet school is impossible, but everyone overcomes it via their different methods. It is really important to have a form of stress release at vet school, be it sport, the gym, walking, music, art, drama, volunteering – there is something for everyone and it is important to know that you don’t have to give up your hobbies in order to pass your vet exams. If anything, they will help your academic performance.
Hobbies outside of vet school provide a great form of social interaction, and it can sometimes be especially helpful to be around other students who aren’t on the vet course. They won’t have any idea about your course and you won’t have any idea about theirs, which means that it can be a fantastic way to take your mind off your work when you can’t talk about it.
Some vet schools have created a peer support community, which trains up volunteers on the course to be able to listen to and advise anyone in the vet school who feels like they are struggling. And as well as this, the Vetlife website (see link below) and helpline (0303 040 2551) are available to all vet students. You can use their website, email and helpline to express any worries in confidence. They can help you on a variety of topics ranging from depression at university and stress to student finance, so is a really great resource for students across the country.
When you get to university you quickly get enveloped in this strange new world and swept up in it. It is such a huge change for most of us and we often get scared of missing out if we went home or see it as a weakness if we want to go home for the weekend. DON’T.
Going home for the weekend is a huge part of staying on track and staying sane! I am now in 4th year and it has got to the point where a lot of people go home quite a few times a term and everyone is jealous when they hear of someone else going home!
I have found that often you feel totally fine and healthy (both body and mind!) and then you go home and the weight that you feel being lifted by just being with family or friends and even just getting a lovely home cooked meal is incredible. I have the worst immune system ever and basically have a cold from the moment I get to university until I go home and get my mums cooking!!
I think the main thing with going home is to realise it is utterly ok to feel home sick – I still miss my parents 4 years in but the difference between now and 1st year is that I admit that and notice that in myself and do something about it and go home – whereas in 1st year I wanted to be ‘strong’ and ‘independent’ and barely went home at all and that really affected me and I just wasn’t as happy.
Remember – coming to university is a huge change for most of us – completely new people, new cities, new accents, new challenges – and sometimes its just nice to go somewhere you know and can fully relax – its amazing what a weekend can do to your stress levels!!
Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow