Hey there! If you’re reading this, it is most likely because you will soon be starting vet school. Or maybe you haven’t yet applied, but like me was extremely curious what the curriculum will look like and how you’ll navigate it all once you start school. Well I’m here to provide some takeways of what helped me succeed in my first term at St. George’s University.
Personally, the biggest adjustment when transitioning from undergrad to vet school was the hefty increase in course load. Term 1 of vet school entailed nine ... I repeat, NINE, rigorous courses (a total of 20 credits). In undergrad, however, I never took more than 14 credits a semester and I used to think that was a lot. So prepare yourself to be thrown heaps of coursework and lecture material.
Classes I took in term 1 were: physiology I, anatomy I (with lab) histology (with lab), embryology, radiology I (with lab) , clinical orientation, professional development, and animal nutrition.
At first glance through the syllabi, I definitely felt overwhelmed. But finally beginning my journey to becoming a Veterinarian also felt so fulfilling so leaned into that.
Term 1 was going quite smoothly until Covid spread globally (check out my previous post) but I’d say the main take aways for succeeding in your first term of vet school would be the following:
1) Get organized.
Research different methods of studying & note taking, as well as different apps geared toward school to find what will work best for you. Once you do that, formulate a game plan for how you’ll tackle your studies. Before school started, I was on YouTube trying to get familiar with the methods of other students in professional school and how they worked through their workload - & not just other vet students, med students too.
What worked for me? Investing in an iPad Pro so I could have digital notes and utilize the Apple Pencil. I used OneNote to put all my lecture slides on and notability for note taking. I recently downloaded the app iStudiez for term 2. This app acts as a planner, I use it to keep track of classes, assignments and exams. It’s also useful in tracking your GPA for you.
2) Make friends.
Not just for the social life balance and for the camaraderie, but also because group study is so important. I honestly don’t think I would have done so well in term 1 if I didn’t have a peers to study with.
Obviously there will be a lot of solo study time but after that, it really is helpful to get with classmates to go over the material, quiz each other, clarify concepts, and take turns teaching the concepts back to one another. My group consisted of @a.nicklebery (check her out on IG and her online resource platform for vet students she just launched) and @teylorbeeswax. We all had different strengths and weaknesses, so to come together with our individual understandings and go over the material really helped form the bigger picture and solidify our knowledge.
3) Utilize your resources!
Sgu has so many! As I’m sure most vet schools do, we’re paying A LOT of money so take advantage! For me, a major resource were ”Peer Learning Groups” where upper termers who mastered a subject held review/tutoring sessions. But aside from the resources offered by your school look out for more.
Let me remind you that as students we get VIN memberships for free. Vin was really helpful for anatomy study with the 3D models. Also, the University of Minnesota has excellent anatomy resources too. It really helped to review their videos and images before going into my own lab - here is the link.
4) Start good habits early.
Get the most out of your days, because as a fulltime student every minute of your day of counts. I aspire to be like the people who wake up every morning at 5am and get their days started before the sun is even up. To do that though, one has to be disciplined to practice getting in & out of bed a certain times so that it just becomes routine.
My point is, you dont have to wait to practice the habits you wish to implement as a successful student once school starts. Practice before you get there! Set yourself up for success in every way possible.
Hope this was helpful, thank you for reading 🙂.