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How Do I Stay Motivated at Vet School?

There’s no denying that vet school is a rigorous, demanding, and challenging ordeal. Constant examination can feel like running a treadmill; passing the test merely to get to the next one, with no true ground covered. You may feel that your lack of ‘wider purpose’ is a huge motivation drainer when tackling individual exams. You may be worried about what comes after vet school.

You may ask yourself: If I have no clear sense of my bigger purpose or specialisation, what is motivating me to get through this? Here, I outline four key motivational methods.

Focus on the Now

Firstly, appreciate that goal-setting is important, but make your goals relevant to where you are now. No one is asking you to decide your future right now, but what is important is that you smash this upcoming class exam. Think back to why you joined vet school in the first place.

Remember, the future beyond your veterinary degree is built on the foundation of these examinations, EMS rotations, and reports. Without these building blocks, the whole wider purpose would crumble, in fact, it wouldn’t exist. View the current tasks as micro-goals that will inevitably build up to form a wider purpose.

How could they not?

The Telescope

Goal setting is like operating a telescope, it retracts and expands according to how far off you wish to see. It is your responsibility to set it as such. You will be surprised; once you begin to focus on the report that’s due tomorrow, you’ll gain clarity. In fact, attempting to link this report to a sense of ‘wider purpose’ will only blur your vision. Thus, what is essential now is focus, not loftiness.

View the Degree as a Learning Opportunity

The degree should be viewed as a time to explore, test, and suss out what your end goal will become. Take enjoyment in all the different options available to you: a cardiologist?

Histopathologist? Equine vet? Joining the army? Or not becoming a vet at all?! This is about testing, trying, and discovering your passion. In viewing your degree as a constant exploration, you will traverse the path to your wider goal intuitively.

Don’t Panic. Don’t Drift.

This takes me on to my final point. Post-vet school, many people start to drift because they have not used their degree as a process of discovery. Rather, they have compartmentalised the ‘post-degree’ stage of their career, failing to acknowledge that the microcosmic elements of the degree build towards a wider picture. Therefore, once you reach the end of your degree, it is time to expand that telescope.

Everything you have learned, discovered, and explored has now culminated in forming the end goal. You can even see Saturn.

This guide to motivation is also a guide in perspective. Start by focussing in on those individual tasks, and view these as the building blocks of your telescopic vision. Once you view your degree in this way, the bigger goal will become a byproduct of an intuitive learning experience.

Be safe. Be well. Be happy. And go smash that exam.

If you want to keep up this motivation, join our So You're a Vet, Now What? course to help you build a resilient foundation in veterinary medicine:


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