Recap: First Semester
It really feels almost unreal that I’ve finished an entire semester of veterinary school. As I walked in the snow up to the lecture hall one morning a couple weeks ago, I remembered how I walked around for tours on interview day on a snow covered campus last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. It made me smile, and just felt crazy that finally, this time when I’m walking around in the snow, I know where I’m going because I belong here!
This first semester has been all in all, absolutely amazing for me. I was worried about a bunch of things before starting in August, but I learned over the months that really they weren’t much to worry about at all!
Problem Based Learning – in this class, we were put into groups of 6 students with a faculty facilitator for the whole semester. Our group got along great, and we were led through four “cases” that we had to talk through together with the goal of “solving” the case in a few sessions. We left each session with learning issues that we would go research to bring back answers for our questions the next time. Overall I learned a lot about thinking through cases and unfortunately learned how much information is out there that I don’t know (!!!) but that we can always find it!
Least Favorite Course
Clinical Skills – the course really had to start at square one because of the varied backgrounds of experience in the class, I found it to be super boring personally. It was absolutely fantastic to get to spend time with the animals, but when you ask me to put a halter on and off a heifer in a headlock six times to practice, I will be bored. Equine handling was the area where I lacked the most, and so that at least was very exciting for me to improve on.
Respiratory Physiology – I can’t tell you if it was an awesome lecturer or the topic itself, or both, but I found this entire block SO cool! I had never thought about the complexity of respiration before and this block got me very excited about clinical reasoning. It makes me pretty excited to delve into Respiratory Pathophysiology next year!
Least Favorite Topic
International Veterinary Medicine – we had a course on this topic that was dispersed throughout the semester. The classes ranged from talking about ways to go and work internationally to guest speakers talking about their time working in different international settings. Personally, I have absolutely no interest in working internationally and I am actually scared of travelling internationally myself because I have a severe (read: anaphylaxis) food allergy. I definitely have a large group of classmates who I think are interested in the topic, so I hope they enjoyed the course!
Anatomy – Anatomy was daunting at first, but I am a very visual and tactile learner so in the end it came the easiest to me. I say easiest, to compare it to my other courses, but it still wasn’t easy!
Biochemistry – I am not a biochemist and I will never be a biochemist! Thank goodness we had a good, engaging teacher who explained things over and over for us, because otherwise I would have struggled even worse to pass this one.
How I studied This Semester
I used the Notability app on my iPad to either take notes directly on PowerPoint slides during lectures, or to write notes separately. When it came to studying for exams, I made myself study guidesso that I could draw out maps, diagrams, and illustrations to help me learn. I didn’t focus on the learning objectives when making my study guides because I found it to be another level of difficulty for me to get through all the material in time – The learning objectives the teachers provide are incredibly helpful though, so I think I’ll try to incorporate those directly into my studying next semester.
How I dealt with the Stress
I will admit there were some days that were really bad, and I didn’t deal with my stress well. My school/life balance definitely had ups and downs through the semester. Overall I felt that with the support of my classmates and the faculty/administration behind us telling us to not lose sight of the other very important things in our lives (family & friends and ourselves), I was able to enjoy the entirety of learning all of this new information and getting a whole variety of new experience in the process! I made time for the people in my life, but they also are so supportive and they made time to help me with what I needed to succeed in school. What I didn’t focus on as much was myself, so I hope I can bring some self care into my school/life balance next semester!
I hope any fellow first year students reading this also had a great semester overall, but more importantly if you struggled, make sure to reach out to others for guidance or help. I would absolutely love to talk to fellow students about how their first semester went, good or bad, so send me a message & let’s connect!