Expectations vs Reality: Course Load and Curriculum

I’m starting a new posting series about my expectations of vet school and the reality that I’ve experienced one and half semesters in. As a pre-vet student, I had an idealized version of vet school; I was finished with “extraneous” subjects, like English and macroeconomics, and on to learning about what I loved: veterinary medicine. I would get to spend more time hands-on with animals, learning what I really needed to know to go out and be a veterinarian, not just a student who can regurgitate information.

I knew from talks with my parents, who are physicians, that professional school is no cakewalk. In the midst of overwhelming information, long days and longer nights, and stressful exams, they got very close to their classmates, many of whom they are still in contact with over thirty years later. I went into school with an open mind about my classes, peers, and professors, knowing that I was going to be overwhelmed from day one. What I didn’t expect was how challenging “easy” classes were for me, and how much I enjoyed the tough classes.

If you ask most of my classmates, they would agree that our easiest lecture class last fall was Parasitology. “You just have to memorize the parasite and what it does!” they said. I’m very much someone who has to understand what I’m learning; I can know something, but if I don’t understand it, then I get frustrated and don’t retain the information well. For me, rote memorization is very difficult since there isn’t much to understand; there’s no process to follow, no “this is how it works”. For me, Parasitology was twice as difficult as physiologyhistology, and anatomy, where I learned how and why a system works the way it does or why bones have large prominences to anchor muscles. In undergrad, I loved biochemistry because I could follow the processes and finally understand how our bodies work. Same with physiology: now I understand (at least as much as I need to, clinically) how animal organ systems work.

I knew going in that one of the hardest parts of vet school isn’t the material itself, but the vast amounts of information in a short amount of time. We have lecture from 8 a.m. until noon most days, with anatomy lab twice a week and clinical skills once a week. If you look strictly at the credit hours, last fall had 20 hours and this spring is 19; this isn’t much more than the 17 hours I was used to for all of undergrad. However, vet school runs at a much faster pace than undergrad; we had all of our basic immunology in 13 lectures at the beginning of the semester, and we finish the semester with 12 more hours of clinical immunology. Professors assume that I am studying hard outside of class and will ask questions, if I have them; otherwise, how do they know what they need to clarify? Most professors do their absolute best to make sure we have everything we need (notes, reading assignments, and outlines) so that we’re prepared to study for their test, which I am very grateful for.

One pleasant surprise about starting at LMU-CVM was how quickly we began learning hands-on clinical skills. My first week of school, I had a simulated encounter with a communications coach to begin learning how to interact with clients and team members. During first semester, I also learned how to tie ligatures and do basic physical exams-skills that many vet students don’t learn until much later. This semester, I’ve already learned how to suture simple interrupted stitches and several diagnostic methods that I may use in practice, like running a packed cell volume, preparing and staining a blood smear, and then looking at the blood smear under a microscope. That’s one of the things I love most about LMU-CVM; I get to learn skills early on and perfect them before heading out on clinics.

What’s one of your expectations for vet school? I may talk about it next time!

If you want more information on LMU-CVM, check out the admissions page, feel free to email me, or leave a comment!

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Posted on February 26, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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