BY RACHEL KENNEDY
Have you ever wanted to go to veterinary school? Have you ever been curious about what daily life as an equine vet student looks like? Well, join me on campus for a day in the life.
Let’s Start From the Beginning
My name is Rachel, and I’m a third year veterinary student. Our days start early, and I wake up around 5:30am. I personally have a morning mantra of light, movement, and water. I try to drink several glasses of water first thing in the morning. Not only does this help me wake up and get my body moving, but it also helps combat the afternoon headaches and sluggishness that a long, stressful day inevitably causes.
Most veterinary students are dog owners and like to save time in our busy schedules. Outdoor running is one of the more efficient ways to get you and your pup’s cardio in. This is my personal favorite way to keep myself sane and fit. Plus, many of our lectures are recorded, which makes running the perfect time to listen to a lecture or a podcast. After my run, I make a protein smoothie to recover before getting ready to head to school.
Most days, classes start at 8am. Our classes are either lecture-based or lab-based. Lectures are typically traditional in that we all gather in a large lecture hall and either a clinician from the teaching hospital or a faculty member teaches the lecture. I have found that looking through the notes and the powerpoints before class is the most helpful way to maximize my learning during the lecture. If you want more tips about study tips in vet school, check out this post. Lectures take up most of our mornings.
On to the Afternoon
Lunch is an hour long. I like to take this time to relax, socialize, and maybe skim some notes. My lunches consist of a packed salad with chicken with some sort of carbonated drink. I find that the protein from the salad and the carbonation from sparkling water wake me up and keep going into the afternoon labs.
Labs are typically held in small groups. We either learn hands-on skills like suturing and physical exam or we tackle real cases. My personal favorite is clinical skills where we learn how to complete tasks like ultrasound, suturing and surgical procedures. The vet school has done an amazing job of creating models so we can practice skills before applying them to real patients. While I also read about different skills it just isn’t fully solidified as a skill until I have done it with my own hands.
Keeping Life Balance with Barn Time
Our class day normally ends around 3-4 pm. Immediately after school, I like to give myself a bit of a brain break. I have been riding jumpers for 15 years and was able to bring my mare along to vet school. Having a half leaser who does an amazing job at riding my beastie really helps me manage finances and helps when my schedule gets too crazy. If you would like to learn more about how I balance vet school and being an adult amateur, check out this post.
Riding after a long day of school helps me to get out of my own head and focus on one task at a time. Most veterinary students are self-proclaimed busybodies, and many of us fall into the trap of inefficient multi-tasking. Riding and working around the barn force me to be present and focus on one task at a time.
On days that I don’t ride, I like to do a workout class. My personal favorite is spin classes or yoga because, like riding, it forces me to be present and focus: Just hold this pose, just push up this hill, etc. Working out has become just an essential part of my daily routine in vet school. Instead of taking time away from studying, I find that it makes the time I do study more productive. My body and mind are more engaged, my sleep is more consistent, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment that is incredibly motivating.
Settling into Study Time
Next it’s dinner and study time. I like easy dinners because I find that when I cook from scratch in the evenings, I end up cutting into my study time way too much with the whole process of prep, cooking and clean up. I am a fan of quick dinners or crockpot meals that can be prepared and frozen.
Studying is an essential and inevitable part of vet school. I have never been the best at studying, but I have learned about myself and my own learning and I have found ways that make it a more enjoyable experience. To be successful with my studying, I focus on engaged learning. If I find myself distracted or pointlessly retyping notes, I change my approach. Most of the time, I enjoy listening to lectures and following along in the notes or the PowerPoints. If I have already been through the lecture I find ways to quiz myself. I find that recalling the information is the most efficient way to ensure I am learning the information.
And tomorrow? We do it all over again : )
Rachel Kennedy is a devout equine enthusiasts that started as a hunter/jumper rider in her youth and graduated to an equine-focused veterinary student at Texas A&M. While in vet school, a few of her classmates and herself started a blog, MainStream Equine. It has been their passion project that allowed them to connect with so many wonderful people in the equine world.