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Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow

Vet Student Blog 2 - Oct 18

It’s a Scary Business!

As we are getting close to the time of year where our year 13s are eagerly waiting for responses from the vet schools they applied to, it’s easy to forget what a nerve wracking time it all is! I am lucky enough to know 2 vet School hopefuls back home in the North East and after chatting to them recently have realised that despite the fact I know they are both absolutely amazing people with ‘vet’ written all over them, they’re both really on edge and apprehensive about the forthcoming months. I asked them recently what it is that scares them and they were happy to share.

“First of all, my biggest fear is not getting in because you put so much work and dedication into your application and for it to come to nothing would be so disheartening and feel like a complete waste of time and energy. Another question I would be inclined to ask is: can I feasibly cope with the workload whilst being able to experience university life as I would on a different course? I understand how demanding the course is, but equally I don’t want to miss out on the social experience associated with university. Then of course there’s the possibility I do get onto the course then suddenly find myself hating it or realise I’m not suited to the job at all, despite all the work I’ve put in, and regret my decision but be too far down the line to change my mind.”

“What scares me most about Vet School? There are a couple of things, but I’d say first and foremost it would be the thought of not getting in but if I were lucky enough to get a place the thought of everybody else there being better than me is really terrifying, as is the possibility of not being good enough and after working so hard it would be devastating to fall at the final hurdle! Another worry I have is whether or not I’ll be able to make friends, although that is largely a general University concern rather than just vet-related.”

I don’t think it’s unjust to assume most of the fear is associated with not getting accepted, or in other words missing out on the dream which we all want so badly to achieve. I know that I personally am still terrified of losing out on that MRCVS qualification and ultimately working so hard to fall at the final hurdle, which begs the question: does the fear ever go away? I asked the same question to a group of North East vet students as I did the applicants and was greeted with a whole host of different reactions!

“I would say the thing that scares me most about vet School is how much other people know. When you’re learning such a lot of new content, I feel like I’m constantly comparing myself to my peers and I always feel sort of behind.

“My main fear at vet school is ‘have I done enough work’, the question I ask myself during a panic induced state the day before an exam. Despite having studied for around 10 hours per day for a week on top of the work I have steadily done throughout the semester, I still arrive on the eve of my exam feeling like I haven’t studied enough and failure is just around the corner. I question whether the time I took off one afternoon to binge watch a tv show, or the Saturday night that I went out instead of studying were a mistake. However I then consider how important the work/life balance is on a course as demanding as veterinary medicine, look at students in older years who have had a social life and still been successful and realise that although I’m extremely nervous about sitting my exam, I have put the work in and at the end of the day only need 50% to pass.

“I think for me, the most difficult thing is being in a group of incredibly intelligent people and having to make the transition from being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ to the other extreme , part of which has been learning not to compare myself to others constantly.”

“What scares me most is the possibility that I might spend all this time, energy and stress in order to qualify and then discover that being a vet isn’t for me. Although I’m fairly confident I’m on the right path, this realisation isn’t uncommon and it must be so frustrating and upsetting!”

“I’ve only been at vet School a couple of months and I already feel like I have way more work to do than I do time to complete it. It’s also difficult to get out of the ‘school mentality’ of needing to get over 90% on everything you do, and accept that you’re not going to be the top of the class anymore as everybody in the lecture theatre was once the smartest person at school. It’s easy to forget sometimes that just because someone knows something and you don’t doesn’t mean you’re not clever enough to make it through, it’s just different and takes a bit of getting used to…and that’s without of course the added possibility of being knocked around by sheep in front of everyone for the first time!”

Reading through, it’s fair to say there are one or two patterns! I can definitely relate to the comments about feeling inadequate and comparing yourself to the amazing people in the same lectures as myself!

As you can see, everyone finds it at least a bit scary! It’s such a tough course and therefore super important to remember that if you’re scared, there will be hundreds of other people feeling exactly the same way as you. You are never alone in this and there is always so, done to talk to. You can do this and you do deserve to be here; believe in what the vet School sees in you!