A guest article by Melody Winterhalter, also known on Instagram as “Melody The Vet”. She will share some of her study tips for an easier time at the vet school.
Exams. The word brings dread to most students around the world. The laborious process of studying is exhausting and if you’re reading this, you’ve probably tried a multitude of different studying techniques and haven’t quite found what works for you. I’m here to give you some advice and tips on studying and try to make the whole process a bit less painful, and a bit more enjoyable. Of course, not all these tips will work for everyone, but it’s always worth a try!
Veterinary medicine is full of lists of things like diseases, muscle layers or breed predispositions that are just things that you have to memorise. I personally find it very hard remembering things that don’t come with an explanation so I use mnemonics to help keep these things in my brain… For example, let’s say you’re asked about what can cause hypercalcemia. Rather than trying to pluck random things from inside your brain, you can just remember “GOSH DARN IT” and work from there.
Spurious (e.g. lab error)
There are plenty of veterinary mnemonics out there, and making up your own is even easier to remember I find!
Studying little and often
I have a short attention span. Add in all the distractions I have on my desk and there is a recipe for disaster. I try to combat this by studying for short bursts and giving myself frequent breaks. Try doing 20 minutes and rewarding yourself with a 5 minute break – make a tea, scroll on your phone for a bit, go outside for a bit. This technique helps me keep my focus!
These are honestly a godsend. With all the little facts you need to know in vet school (“how do you test for IMHA?”, “what treatment protocol should be used for T cell lymphoma?”, and so much more), it’s good to constantly quiz yourself on these so they stick in your brain. Make these as you go, and quiz yourself with maybe 10-20 flashcards every week, making sure you know them by the end of the week. It’ll be much more beneficial in the long run as opposed to cramming them all the month before exams!
Sometimes, the information you get in a seminar or practical class can be overwhelming. I like to put this all into a mindmap, which helps me categorize it on paper and in my brain. I’ve put an example below of one I’ve made in the past. I use the app “SimpleMind” but there are plenty of other mind map apps out there.
Bear with me while I sound like the final paragraph of a “5 Steps of Grief” journal article. As a vet student, you have to accept that you are NEVER going to know everything. Not only is there so much content in the course, but the occupation is forever changing, with research happening 24/7 to prove and disprove previous things we’ve been taught. Once you accept that, you will put less stress on yourself for exams. Just because you do not get 100%, it will not make you a worst vet. Being a vet is not just about grades – it is about good client communication and compassion for your patients. If you have all those things, you will make one great vet!
Let me know if these study tips work for you and if you have any other techniques that you use! And good luck with all future exams and your career as a veterinarian!
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