A veterinary student with books

3 Things Every First-Year Vet Student Needs – by Alexandru M. Pop

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3 Things Every First-Year Vet Student Needs.
With school recently started, most first-years are probably getting around to realizing a few things. If you’re anything like I was, you’ve learned that vet school is a beast that nobody could have really prepared you for (no matter how hard they tried with all the ice-breakers at orientation). Every person really needs a “break-in” period to figure it out for themselves, because honestly everyone is going to find ways to succeed in their own unique way. That being said, here are some things I would consider to be essential everyday items and tasks that might help you ace that next anatomy practical.


Computer or tablet

a man taking notes in front of a laptop Whether you like typing or writing your notes down, I think the most essential thing all students need to figure out is how you take notes best. There are many options here: typing into PowerPoint, typing up Word documents, annotating presentations on a tablet, printing notes beforehand and handwriting on them, or just bringing a trusty notebook to class and jotting things down. My recommendation is to download your lecture presentations onto a tablet and handwrite on them as the lecture goes on. I use a tablet and an app called Notability. It lets me organize all my notes into folders and automatically backs them up to Google Drive so I can access them anywhere I have internet. I started off annotating PowerPoints and PDF’s on my laptop which worked great, but I prefer to handwrite my notes so this saved me a lot of time. It also took me an entire year to figure this out, and I didn’t get the tablet until my second year of school––but I survived and you will too. Just ask yourself if the note taking method you utilize now is really the best way to do it.


A person taking notes in a electronic plannerThe days of writing down random dates, notes and to-dos on napkins is over. In undergrad I could survive on memory alone most of the time; during “hard” weeks I would jot a few things down on paper. It took me about a month of vet school to realize I needed a planner and I needed one QUICK. All the quizzes, assignments, exams, labs, practicals, meetings… the list goes on, so put it all in a planner and worry about one less thing. I started off with a paper planner because I like writing things down, but as school gets busier and life really ramps up, you may need access to your schedule remotely. Google Calendar is a great option that I currently use. You can set reminders or alarms, break your day up by time slots, and add all sorts of things that are accessible to you anywhere.


Two people cycling next to a riverThis one is a no-brainer, but it’s really easy to forget to take time to do things you enjoy when you have 18 different tests running through your mind. I let myself suffer for too long without making time for hobbies, but it taught me how important it is to maintain a life outside of vet school. I’m not saying you should take up competitive mountain biking or something you’ve never done before (unless you want to because that actually sounds awesome) but read a book that doesn’t end in “-ology” once in a while, go for a run, go lift some weights, cook a nice meal, go watch a movie, SOMETHING to break the cycle of eat, sleep, study, repeat. I promise you, spending 30 minutes to an hour doing something for yourself will pay off infinitely for your mental health in the long run. Personally, I go to the gym in the morning. I started doing this during my second year of school. It wakes me up, gives me about an hour to think about absolutely nothing, and it’s an amazing health benefit. Sometimes (for fun) I like to draft all the emails I need to send that day the night before, and send them when I wake up around 5 AM just to mess with people and make them wonder why I’m up so early.


I hope this has helped guide you a bit into your first few weeks of a few long years, but like everyone has and will continue to tell you, it’s worth it, I promise. If you have any questions for me, I love engaging with students from all over so please send me a message @alexandrupoppy on Instagram!


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