Twenty-six years ago, I started veterinary school at Purdue University in Indiana. It was such a daunting adventure to say the least. I would spend the next four years learning everything I could about every animal on the planet (besides humans.) When you think about everything they have to cram into four years it is very intimidating and humbling.
The first year of vet school, you learn the normal animal. There are anatomy lectures and labs about the main domesticated animals. You learn how animals work in physiology. We even had classes in basic handling and restraint- I learned how to hypnotize a chicken! The first year is also a wake-up call for some students who are used to getting great grades without much work (like me) and are thrown into a massive class load. Normal class hour load for a full-time college student is 12-15 hours. Veterinary school is over 20 class hours a semester.
The second year of vet school, you learn the abnormal animal. You have classes in parasitology, pathology, immunology, bacteriology, and virology. Basically, you are learning about all the things that can go wrong, all the things that can infect or affect your patient. We basically stayed in one lecture room and our professors rotated in and out. Our lab was around the corner, so even though our world of understanding was getting bigger, our physical world was very small. Hours and hours are spent looking at a microscope, diseased organs, and wriggly crawly things.
The third year of vet school, you learn how to fix the animal. Our classes are about medicine, surgery, pharmacology, and economics. This is the year where the labs are sometimes longer than the lectures. We get to have hands-on practice with techniques we learn about in class during surgery labs. Many hours outside of class are spent practicing suture patterns and knots.
In the fourth year of vet school, you practice everything you have learned. The year starts right after Junior year finals and goes up until graduation. During the clinical year, you spend even more time at school doing rotations, emergency calls, and hospital treatments. There are clinical blocks for surgery, medicine, and diagnostic imaging (radiographs and ultrasounds). There are many very long days and late nights, but the amount of information we learn and the skills we develop are fantastic.
At the end of the four years, we are released into the world. This is where even more learning begins. They teach you as much as they can in four years, but in this profession, we are always learning. In fact, we have to log hours each year in continuing education to be able to renew our license. I always consider myself a student. You should strive to learn something new all the time. There are so many wonderful things in this world to learn about and experience. Find a way to make your world a little bigger each day.