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Friday, August 26, 2011

So you want to be a vet student....

Hi there!

Remember me?

Your resident vet student?

That person who used to entertain you daily, or if not accomplishing that much, at least provided a somewhat amusing annoyance?

And then vet school happened.

Ah yes - vet school. I believe it's been almost 2 weeks since I gave you a REAL update of vet school and how I plan to sequester myself over the next 4 years?

Understandably, you feel jilted. After all, you have patiently waded through vet school! vet school! vet school! posts, slogged your way through my personal statement, and endured a chipmunk-like attention span around admission notification time.

But there's all this complicated stuff like ethics, online policies, and various oaths/codes of conducts/contracts signed in blood that take some time to decide how I want to approach the subject (more on that later).

So then - vet school. Where do I begin?

Today was the end of our first block.

Remember that new curriculum that I was all worried about? Let me start by saying it is AWESOME.

After 2 weeks, my classmates and I still have smiles on our faces, still love the fact we are in vet school, and aren't sick of each other yet. In fact, we *may* have done some downtown celebrating of the conclusion of our first group project this afternoon.

The first block was on (and I *may* be paraphrasing...) how to get a room full of A-type, super controlling, anxiety-driven, let-me-whack-you-with-my-paddle-so-I-can-scramble-into-the-lifeboat students to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate with each other. Because afterall, we are now in the life raft and it's time to start getting along - knife fights tend to rip holes in the life raft. Not to mention learning basic self-care strategies that will let us live to retire at 80 years old when our student loans are finally paid off.

I won't lie and say it was easy. Growth is painful. It's something that every single student in my class is going to have to continue to work on throughout our entire time in school, and into our careers.

Warning - somewhat personal interlude...

In addition to the interpersonal skills, knowing oneself was emphasized . One thing I realized is how "untrue" to myself I have been over the last couple of years, and how much anxiety that has caused. I'm an introvert. I'm really introverted. Painfully so. Because of my career over the last couple of years, and my hobbies/interests I've felt a GREAT pressure to be an extroverted person. I have done a reasonable imitation of an extroverted person, so much so that I think some of my classmates still don't believe me when I tell them I'm an introvert......But I AM!!!!!! And by pretending I'm an extrovert instead of finding a way to be a functional introvert within what I want to do - and not practicing good self care, I've probably given myself a generalized anxiety disorder. I truly remind myself of a puppy that's spinning in circles, yapping at it's tail, desperately needing a time out in the kennel and unable to give myself one.

End of interlude

We were all asked to do self-care contracts with ourselves, and yes, Farley makes an appearance on mine. Along with blogging 3x a week. See, you guys ARE important!

Monday we finally start learning the more traditional vet-biology-chemistry-medicine in our second block. The curriculum is integrated, meaning that we learn the clinical, diagnostic, and science principles at the same time. My first rotation through the teaching hospital is Thursday. The new block continues to be a hybrid/modified "PBL" type learning with a maximum of 20 hours of formal lecture. This is approximately HALF, or even LESS THAN HALF the amount of time the students in the previous curriculum spend in formal instruction.

PBL is kind of how we learn endurance. We are presented a problem and have to research the solution. There is very little formal education, and it is an essentially a self study project with small group learning using resources like journals, research, consortium reports etc. The student has control and greater responsibility. While I probably would have failed dismally if given this sort of curriculum straight out of undergrad, 5 years of a career that was structured like PBL, and doing endurance is going to pay off now. I think Endurance actually prepares one quite well for a PBL program and vet school in general. I'll let you know in a couple of weeks if my brain cells haven't decided to mutiny, whether I still feel that way after a couple of exams....

Tess is giving me sad puppy eyes so it's time for our walk. Thanks to AareneX's solution the heeling is going MUCH better. Tess is an official "self-care" activity, along with eating, sleep, running, Farley, and you'all. Off to walk my under-done Brittany puppy!


  1. PBL?

    My grad school experience involved a lot of group projects where we taught the class or learned from other groups. It felt like it was the blind leading the blind a little bit. I missed my (tough) undergrad biology classes terribly.

    I am also introverted, but I gave up trying to be an extrovert after college. This seems to make some people uncomfortable, so I "fake it" once in a while and engage in senseless chit chat. I hope they cannot tell that I am counting the seconds until I can get back to my long "to do" list.

  2. Howdy from another introvert. I wonder if my inability to remember names and faces is a subconscious expression that I'd rather spend time with people I already know, or with a good book or pet. Social gatherings with acquaintances or strangers exhaust me.

    I'm trying to think how this teaching method would work in law school--would be challenging and interesting.

    I read about a medical school in Europe which has no grades, just pass or fail. Some students couldn't handle the lack of competition, and transferred. But the result was that the better students helped the more challenged students and everyone did better.


  3. Ah yes, this is the sort of column that brings the introverts crawling out of the woodwork to chime in "me too!"
    It is very useful to be able to put on the extrovert cloak and move amongst the crowd undetected. But happiness and peace depend on being able to take it off.

  4. Hey Val -

    We are doing case based PBL which means that we are given Learning Objectives and a facilitator who make sure we don't stray to far from our purpose, AND who asks us questions if we are it's more guided than strict PBL. Combined with SOME lectures, I think I really got the best of both systems. I'm going to go into it a little bit more because I think understanding the process is good for endurance riders - because of the lack of coaches and trainers, endurance riders are essentially the product of their self study. Now that I've been "trained" on it, I understand much better how I learned endurance how I can improve in the future.

  5. BTW -

    PBL = problem based learning

    CBL = case based learning

    IBL = inquiry based learning, which incompasses both PBL and CBL.

    Realized that some of you may not have known what some of the abbreviations meant in my post.

  6. As long as you don't forget about the introvert thing and how to recharge, it is not that big a deal to move in alien territory without either imploding or ripping peoples heads off.



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