Keeping Your "Life Plan" Adaptable
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
I knew all my life that I wanted to be in the medical field and the majority of that time was spent wanting to be a veterinarian. There were times along the way where I questioned if human medicine was the way to go but ultimately decided that combining my passions for helping people, animals, and practicing medicine would suit me best.
My experiences prior to vet school were heavily focused on small animals. I worked in a small animal clinic, dog boarding/grooming facility, and volunteered at the humane society all throughout high school. I had little exposure to large animals and knew few things about their care and handling. Once I started taking classes in undergrad, I was able to gain more exposure to large animals but even then I never felt capable of caring or handling them. Aside from my animal science courses, my study abroad trips allowed me to gain a little more hands-on experience with cows, sheep, and pigs. Other than that I went into vet school hoping to learn the bare minimum about large animals but never actually ending up working with them once I graduated.
So, what did I want to do in vet med? Well, first year vet student Kristi started out thinking she wanted to be a neurologist or cardiologist. Why did I think this? Well, during undergrad I had worked in the small animal hospital as a receptionist and was able to see a SMALL glimpse of what these clinicians did. I wanted nothing more than to be that clinician who guides and mentors all the young doctors throughout their medical journeys. It seemed that every neurologist and cardiologist I interacted with were brilliant and super awesome. I wanted to be just like them. I also knew the brain and heart were very important organs and how cool would it be to know everything about really important organs 😉?!? Don’t get me wrong, I still think these clinicians are brilliant and super awesome (and I still think the brain and heart are really important organs) but it took me about 1 semester to truly realize that specializing would most likely not be in the cards for me. It’s not because I didn’t think I was capable. I know I am. I just realized that there are SO MANY career options in this field that would be a better fit.
So here I am- 2 months into my third year of vet school and planning out my 4th year rotations. I am now tracking mixed animal which I NEVER thought would happen. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how veterinary school works, let me quickly fill you in. Some vet schools require all students to work with all species throughout their 4 years while others allow a tracking option. When you track you can narrow your species focus down after the didactic years. I was dead set on following a small animal track but my experiences during second year hit me with a major PLOT TWIST.
If one thing’s for sure: vet school is full of many surprises. This was one I wasn’t expecting. The more I learned and worked with large animals the more I enjoyed it. The more I learned about how badass and diverse veterinary medicine is, the more
possibilities opened for me. I’m now on the path of tracking mixed animals and interested in pursuing a career in public health/global medicine/wildlife medicine/conservation. WHO KNEW? This goes to show that you never know where life will take you and that is amazing.
So, if you’re wanting to go to vet school but not sure what kind of veterinarian you want to be, that’s okay! If you’re a current vet student that still has no clue what you want to do, that’s okay! Don’t fight the exploration and changes vet school presents to you. You will be introduced to so many disciplines and it’s truly amazing how many opportunities are out there for us!