The transition from junior vet student to senior vet student has been abrupt and very interesting.
Though we're only 2.5 weeks into senior clinics, junior year seems so long ago. Was it really just a month earlier that I was sitting in class for half the day, taking at least 1 exam every weekend, and stressing out about capstone?
And was it only a month ago that the hospital was filled with confident, knowledgeable, soon-to-be-DVM former seniors? Now it seems like it's always been the norm to see my own classmates sitting in the rounds rooms, running the anesthesia cases, dealing with all the clients in the lobby, and striding around purposefully discussing cases with the clinicians.
I do miss having a few hours every day to sit back in class and engage in passive learning, taking notes on whatever topic the lecturer throws at us. It was nice to know that if I really had too much stuff going on outside of school, if I got sick, or if I was just running late, missing a few minutes of afternoon classes would go unnoticed.
However, despite the massive increase in hours spent at school (from 20 hr/wk of junior rotation + 10 hr/wk of classes, to 50-55 hr/wk of senior clinics), I am enjoying senior year so much more than junior year.
One thing I particularly love is the fact that, for the most part, when I come home from school, my time is my own. At this point, NAVLE studying hasn't started yet and Community Practice as a senior rotation doesn't require much studying other than the several hours I spent reviewing the surgery handbook. It's awesome to be able to relax and watch a little TV or hang out on Facebook or (gasp!) sit on the couch and read a book without the nagging feeling that I'm wasting what should be precious study time.
Weekends are fantastic too. The same sort of thing goes -- I don't feel bad sleeping in, hanging out with CLH, running errands. Spending Sunday morning at church doesn't give me the sense that I'll have to cram my study time into just a few afternoon hours. And no exams! No exams!
As a senior it's also more interesting to have primary case responsibility. As a junior, there were a few times when I was the one leading the appointment, but more often it was following along with senior and then finally learning enough about a given case to really be interested in it, only to have to leave at noon to grab a bite of lunch and make it to class on time -- then come back the following day and try to catch up on everything that happened the previous afternoon and overnight.
I love the opportunities to interact with clients. It's been pointed out to us students that the clientele at a veterinary teaching hospital is generally fairly self-selected to be the more dedicated clients who have intense bonds with their pets and are willing to educate themselves about the things we tell them. It's really fun to talk to these clients and learn about their dogs and cats and leave almost every appointment feeling like we had a successful visit and everyone left satisfied.
I really like that we still have another 3 months to "practice" being seniors before the new juniors will join us in late August and early September. Though we're gaining confidence every day, there is still a lot to be learned before we take the overly eager juniors under our wings and try to answer all of their questions fresh from 2+ years of book-learning that we will have pushed somewhat to a back corner of our minds by then.
Though Community Practice has been full of very long and very busy weekdays, with 12+ hour days on Tues/Wed/Thurs being basically the norm, I'm glad this is where I started my senior year experience. And I'm glad I have another 2 weeks to go before I get thrown into internal med with its caseload of hugely complicated medical diseases, hours spent writing detailed SOAPs for patients with 15-20 different problems, and increased likelihood of having hospitalized patients to care for in the evenings and weekends. For now, I'll keep my free time to myself, thanks very much.