Student Blogs

How to Survive Second-Year Stress

[willow sleeping]

Hint: Friends (Furry and Otherwise) Help

As I finish up my second year of veterinary college (“The Year of -Ologies,” as they call it), I reflect on all that I have experienced since coming to the U of I.

This year was much more difficult than last, with an increased class load bringing about more stress. Learning every parasite, bacterium, virus, and how to treat them along with trying to balance a normal life was not always simple. Having more information in the same short period of time has not made it easy to have a life outside of school. We almost have to force ourselves to get some fresh air and take a break.

Even clinics were a bit more stressful this year, as we had our cumulative Milestone exam, along with our clinical skills test, also known as the OSCEs (objective, structured, clinical examinations). While classes were nonstop, activities outside of that helped bring about some release.

[Big Sibs-Little Sibs on the town]
Even veterinary students get to enjoy the night life once in a while.
The year started off with the Big Sib-Little Sib Bar Crawl. This year, we were big siblings for a first-year student to be their guide through the year. We are there to give advice and just be a friendly face in the crowd. Before classes, all of us were able to get together to hang out, eat, and just have fun. We were able to enjoy downtown and introduce the first-years to their home for the next four years. Throughout the year, we are there for any questions they have and to give little gifts before exams for encouragement. It was crazy to realize we were just in their shoes not long ago.

[Jen and Willow]
Willow gets Jen away from the books and into the outdoors.
From then, the rest of the year moved on and we jumped into classes. Like every year, junior surgery adoptable dog and cat emails are sent out trying to find these fur babies forever homes. For a veterinary student, this is extremely tough to resist, and in my second year, whether due to the increased stress or lack of sleep, I caved and adopted a dog.

Willow was only 8 months when I got her, bursting with energy and it was not the best timing (right before midterms). I struggled with potty training, her listening skills, and chewing up things, including my computer charger days before our exam. While the beginnings were not always easy, I can say with full confidence that having a pet is a huge outlet for stress and being overwhelmed in general. Having a dog forces me to take breaks and go outside on walks, and gives me a constant companion when studying gets to be too much. You end up interacting with a lot of people you never thought you would, all because you both have a dog.

Other things that help you get through vet school are good friends. When you find a group of people you click with and confide in, that makes all the difference. I have the same friends I had first year, and we have been through a lot together. This year we went to our second vet prom and were able to just enjoy ourselves, which doesn’t happen often. Like last year, there was lots of dancing, pizza, and booze. Everyone was able to live carefree for one night and forget about the stress. However, a lot of second year did involve stress and hard work.

[Willow relieves stress]
The best stress reliever!
A nice break from classroom learning was having our second-year rotations. As second years, we were able to be involved with a little more on clinics. Helping during surgeries and physical exams and figuring out the puzzle of what was wrong with our patient. We learned a lot more clinical stuff this year and were able to put that to use. I was able to do things like help on anesthesia, work with complex cases, and be involved in all aspects of rehabilitation. Having learned more during class, I was able to understand some things that were going on, and it helped everything click. We learned information from the fourth-year students, doctors, and technicians and even the patients. It was a great way to come off winter break.

Second year was full of a lot of ups and downs. It was extremely trying at times, and the information we were given was overwhelming but clinically relevant. At the same time, I think a lot of us are remembering why we came here in the first place. While it isn’t always easy, this is what is allowing us to do what we love someday. It will all be worth it in the end, and the memories we make here will always stick with us. What we learn now we can carry with us in our careers. With all our hard work and dedication, we can finally see the end in sight. We are officially halfway done with veterinary school, and have summers full of experiences to prepare us for our third year.

Jen Tito, no longer a second-year veterinary student