Vet School and Me (Part 2)

Sutton Bonnington campus 2011

Three Years Down…

In my last blog I talked about my life at Vet School, and how much I loved the course.

 

Too Cool for Vet School

Despite such a great course, student life in general, for me, has not been wholly positive. This is partly down to the course itself, partly down to our campus, but I think mostly down to my own personality and life.

 

Poor work-life balance is a big issue in veterinary medicine, and this extends to vet students too. I have found that I have been able to keep up with my work, but have suffered a little in other aspects of life. Lately, perhaps, I have improved upon this; my focus is still on university work, so I do not feel I am missing much, but it can be a shame to say ‘no’ sometimes, when I have to study. This is something to consider if you’re thinking about being a vet. There is time for life outside of vet school, you may just have to manage your time very efficiently to make it work – don’t give up on hobbies and interests unless you feel it is really impacting your studies.

BUT don’t leave study or assignments until the last minute either. It is encouraging to see greater awareness of the poor work-life balance of vets (and indeed of employment in general), and I am sure things will improve.

NOT Nottingham!

I did almost no research when I chose my 4 university choices, and when I accepted my offer from Nottingham – where I studied was not a huge consideration. Thus, I ended up at Nottingham University’s Sutton Bonington campus, which I both like and dislike. My biggest problem with the campus is its remoteness and lack of access to the wider world. Coming from a smallish town, I was looking forward to uni in a big city, like most of my friends. I soon realised that our campus was the very opposite of this, located 10 miles south of Nottingham itself in the countryside. Furthermore, though there is regular bus services into Nottingham, with our time commitments, it’s not often I get off campus, except on nights out.

The benefit to being on a small, remote campus is that everyone feels more connected here – there isn’t too much drama, and you feel like you know most people well, which is nice. For me, though, who likes to be outgoing and try new things, options can be limited. At this point, so far into my course, it does not matter to me too much, but it would have been nice to have been more active in societies or explored Nottingham more when I did have the time. As a keen hiker, I certainly get a lot more opportunity to go outdoors than I would living in Nottingham, so it’s swings and roundabouts!

 

Take My Advice

The most candid thing I can say to potential vet students is that here, or at any other university that teaches veterinary medicine, you will not have a ‘normal’ university experience. You are applying to one of the hardest and most competitive courses around to become a clinician, a scientist, a decision maker, a team player, a people-pleaser, a teacher, and a hundred other roles – to become a vet. I’m not saying there isn’t time for play (oh there is!), but don’t take for granted what you are about to embark on, and consider what your long term goals are. It’s horrible being 16 and having to know what you want to be when you’re 25, but that is often what is expected to be a vet; so, so much dedication.

On the flip side, although you probably want to be a vet more than anything, and don’t care where you study, remember that you will be there for at least 5 years. It matters where you live, what opportunities outside of vet school there are, and if these match your personality. Do more research than I did, and don’t just accept a university offer blindly. Going to university is a huge step, and you need to know you’re making the right decision. Of course for some of you, if you only receive one offer, you don’t have that choice. In which case, wherever you end up, there will be opportunity and you will have a good time if you look for it. Just remember why you’re there and what your end goal is.

 

…Two To Go

So far in my course, I am succeeding so well – if all goes to plan, I will be a vet in about 2 years. Do I think I made the right choice regarding my course? 100% yes. Do I think I made the right choice regarding my university? I am not so sure… I have not experienced life at other vet schools, so I cannot compare. I’ll ignore my own advice and say that, for me, being a vet matters more to me than any other factor, and I look past certain issues with university. However, this year especially, I’ve come to realise that life is about more than the end goal, it’s about the journey (totally not paraphrasing ancient proverbs here!).

I know I focus too much on the negative at university, which reflects above, but I have made good friends here, learnt so much, and experienced things I would never have otherwise. So currently, I am happy (except for 9am lectures), healthy (minus one too many nights out), and so ready to continue my course and become a vet.

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