Thriving on clinics


Your 4th year of vet school is a fun year and perhaps the most exciting. You finally get to see your learning process in action…with real live patients! You’ll have the chance to experience different specialties and find what you enjoy. You’ll begin to develop a feel for the lifestyle of veterinarians. But it can also be exhausting at times. You may be working longer hours, taking call, seeing stressed clients and dying patients, and struggling with non-patient care issues like finding your way around new clinics and working with new teams.


  • Remember that teamwork is the key. It’s great to find opportunities to “shine” on the wards and in the clinics but do not try to do so at the expense of your team.
  • Maintain your nutrition and eat regularly.
  • Carry articles or small pocket books with you so you can read up on things when you have small bits of down time.
  • Always make sure your team knows how to find you.
  • Do not be offended if a client requests that no vet student be involved in her animal’s care. It isn’t personal; they are just scared.
  • Try to take a multivitamin or bring lunches from home. Available food is often not the healthiest food. And it’s expensive.
  • Even on busy rotations, try to find the time for activities that help you maintain your balance and motivation. Take breaks when you need, them give yourself permission to reward your efforts, and maintain contact with those you value.
  • Seek feedback. Read the feedback you receive on your evaluations. Respond to the feedback positively.
  • Be a sponge and soak things up.
  • Remember that when their pets are ill, many clients are not at their “best”.
  • If you know you will be in a long procedure ahead of time, consider limiting your fluid intake beforehand.
  • Remember that while we are invested in our patients, we do not have ultimate responsibility for their care. This can be reassuring at times. Our job is to learn.
  • Enjoy your experiences…you may go into another field and never have the same opportunities again

Final Thoughts

Enjoy your moments in clinics. You will never have another opportunity like it. Yes, it can be tiring at times, but it’s one important step in becoming a veterinarian.


  • Your faculty mentor(s)
  • Residents/faculty/senior students
  • Experienced techs – they have often trained many vet students and new veterinarians
  • Must have keys to success – Vet school unleashed podcast


“I’ve always enjoyed watching UH volleyball and basketball. Even though it was difficult, I made it a point to go to as many games as I could. It was always a nice break from the hospital and it made me feel like I wasn’t neglecting myself or my friends.”

JABSOM student, Class of 2006

“I had a really difficult time during one of my rotations and my evaluations made me look like a terrible person. But, in some ways, these negative evaluations helped me succeed in my subsequent rotations because I was determined not to make the same mistakes and make sure the residents and attendings saw me as the curious and caring student that I really was.”

JABSOM student, Class of 2006

“Going for twenty minutes runs after I was done working for the day help me keep in shape and maintain my sanity.

JABSOM student Class of 2006


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Well-being Handbook Copyright © 2019 by Erin Malone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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