February 10, 2020, by Charli
A day in the life of a 4th year vet student
I wake up bright and early to get straight outdoors for a kale smoothie and a run. Just kidding! I’m very much still asleep at 5am. And don’t even talk to me about kale.
I wake up (for real this time), scroll through social media for a bit, and drag myself through the shower. A bit of breakfast, an attempt to pick out something I haven’t already worn twice that week, a knock on the door from my flatmate, and I’m ready to go. Because I live on campus, it’s barely more than a minute’s walk until we’re inside the vet school.
We’re currently deep in our cardiorespiratory module, so our first lecturer cracks straight on with the identification and treatment of heart murmurs in horses. I like to ‘write up’ my lectures as they take place, so I have the powerpoint open on one side of my screen, and a word document on the other, onto which I add all the relevant information. Yes, I’m that annoying student that types relentlessly throughout the lecture. But hey, it’s worth it for a bit more free time in the evening!
A quick break for coffee and a chat, and then we’re back at it again with a whole new lecture – this time on managing the critical care patient – and a whole new list of extra reading to do. It’s up to you how much reading you do, but I’ll try and look over a couple of relevant scientific papers each week if I have time.
We’ll have anywhere between 2 and 6 lectures a day, but usually no more than 15 in one week. The rest of our time is made up of practicals, facilitated sessions (similar to seminars), and self-study tasks called SDLs.
This hour on our timetable has been designated to one such SDL, so my friends and I leave the vet school and head to our favourite lunch spot. After a short break, we get started on the SDL – a case study about a coughing dog. We discuss the potential diagnoses, interpret test results, and form a treatment plan for the patient.
Almost as soon as we’re finished, it’s time to head back into vet school for a facilitated ‘clinical relevance’ session. It’s very similar in format to the SDL we have just done, but a trained veterinary professional is on hand to coach our discussions and answer any questions we may have. It’s a great way to practice our communication and teamworking skills, as well as start using our lecture information in ‘real’ scenarios.
Lunchtime! I nip back to my flat for some food, and station myself in front of whatever Netflix show I’m currently watching. I really like to use my lunch break for some time away from vet school and other people – I like to think it keeps me in a healthier headspace for the rest of the day.
Now for a practical session! Our year group is split into three groups, and my group’s first activity is based in the clinical skills lab. Teaching dogs (owned by the vet school staff) are available for us to practice cardiac ultrasonography on. They are model patients, and always appreciate the few minutes of outdoor playtime we get to give them at the end of the session. The next hour is spent in the dissection lab, practicing diagnostic procedures or surgical skills on cadaver material. Our final session is down at the stables on site, and we get to practice listening to the horses’ hearts with stethoscopes. One horse helpfully has a significant heart murmur, which we all take turns listening to and attempting to diagnose.
The end of the vet school day! Usually pretty exhausted, I head back home and chill out in my room for a bit to give myself a break. If I’ve got any jobs or ‘life admin’ to do, I crack on with that at around 5:30, and make some dinner as soon as I’m done.
Two nights a week, I have drama rehearsals. These are (helpfully) also on campus, so I wander down to the hall ready to get stuck into singing and dancing. We’re planning an ambitious project this term, and I’ve been very lucky to get a big part, so I’m trying to really hard to learn my lines and make sure everything is ready for the show date in March.
Rehearsal is over, so anyone that’s in a social mood heads down to the campus bar to destress after a busy couple of hours. We tuck ourselves away in a smaller room and chat, play games, and often just spend time singing along to some of our favourite songs. People gradually peel away as the night draws on, but sometimes we’ll be in there until the early hours of the morning! Tonight though, it hits 10:30pm and I decide to go home to get some shuteye.
On the nights I don’t have rehearsals, I make the most of my free time to catch up on work, hang out with my friends, or simply give myself some down time. When you’re working on such a busy schedule, it’s really important to make room for yourself to do nothing for a while!
I climb into bed and listen to some music, watch some TV, or read a book until it gets hard to keep my eyelids open, at which point I set my alarm for 8am and tuck myself in, ready to get some much-needed sleep before I do it all over again tomorrow.