The Lizard Log

The Langkilde Lab in Action

The Transition to Veterinary School: Mastering the Art of “Suffering Happily”

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by former undergraduate Courtney Norjen

After four fantastic years at Penn State, I packed up all of my stuff in August and moved to Columbus, Ohio to start veterinary school at the Ohio State University (but don’t worry, I will always truly be a Nittany Lion!)

I was asked to write about what starting veterinary school is like, and I have been struggling to come up with an accurate description. So to procrastinate, I flipped through a Tumblr blog called “Shoulders Deep in Vet School” (it’s hilarious if you’ve never seen it). As I was scrolling, I came across a perfect GIF for describing what veterinary school is really like. It is a quote from Harry Potter, when Ron is reading Harry’s tea leaves and claims “you’re gonna suffer…but you’re gonna be happy about it.” Vet school is incredibly challenging and the workload is massive, but it’s also unbelievably rewarding and I could not be happier to be here.

There were two major educational culture shocks when I started vet school. First, there is no “syllabus week”. There isn’t even a “syllabus day.”   My classmates and I walked into class the first day excited to start school and figure out what our classes would be like. And suddenly it was like trying to drink out of a fire hose. No one could take notes fast enough and everyone was looking around in panic, wondering if they were the only ones who couldn’t keep up. The second shock was getting used to a schedule that was more like high school than college. We typically have class from 8 am to 4 pm, and we are in the same auditorium all day except for when we have laboratories. But unlike a normal 8-hour workday, we have to study after school to keep up with the material.

It took about a week to get used to the sheer volume of material that we cover in class daily, and to be mentally prepared to sit in lecture for most of the day. But once I was adjusted, school became much easier (or if not “easier”, at least more manageable). I found that there is actually plenty of time during the week to do things other than study, and I think that having a good balance of school and fun is absolutely vital to success in veterinary school. Outside of school, I work at a small animal emergency hospital on Sundays, volunteer for community outreach activities through the vet school, and make time to explore all Columbus has to offer with my friends and classmates.

Vet school has definitely been a huge transition, and it is a lot of work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I still wake up every day excited to go to class and learn the information that I’ll need to be a veterinarian in just 3.5 short years. So I will continue to happily “suffer” through the insane hours of studying to keep getting closer to my dream job.

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