Alysa is a rising 2nd year veterinary student at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

I can't thank Alysa enough for her time, friendship, and vulnerability to share her thoughts with TTV. Alysa's answers regarding her experience in veterinary school, mental health challenges, and more are available below below. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact 

  1. Why did you initially want to be a part of veterinary medicine? *
    1. I initially wanted to be a part of veterinary medicine to be a large animal veterinarian because of my involvement in 4H.
    1. What are your goals post graduation as a new graduate? (i.e. SA GP, LA GP, SA ER, Therio, etc.) 
      1. Post graduation, I want to pursue a large animal internship and then a residency in theriogenology. Long term, I want a career in theriogenology.
    2. Why is mental health important to you? *
      1. Mental health is important to me because it affects everyone whether we realize it or not.
    3. What skills have you implemented into your daily routine to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, etc.*
      1. I live by my google calendar and to-do lists. Having everything written down helps it to feel concrete and tangible. I also schedule my "free time" into my daily calendar (I know that sounds like an oxymoron) to convince myself that I have the time to prioritize myself. Additionally, I try to cut off my studying at 7pm most days. This is not always possible, but it allows me to have time to relax, decompress, spend time with my family, and enjoy my pets. I also try to prioritize one small thing a day that makes me happy. For me, this is taking my dog out for a walk to see my horse every day.
    4. How does the administration at your school approach mental health? Is it a priority? Do they offer resources? *
      1. I think that Cornell CVM is taking steps toward prioritizing the mental health of their students. We have a well-being committee, a specific well-being director centered around mental health support (she is amazing), optional monthly group therapy sessions, well-being events (yoga, paint and sip events, etc.), as well as other resources as well.
    5. Did you feel prepared as a pre-veterinary student going to veterinary school? If you could go back, what would you change about your preparation? *
      1. I think that I was as prepared as I could have been. My studying drastically changed from undergrad to vet school. In undergrad, I was studying for the short term and never really applying the material to a real-world setting. I knew that vet school would be challenging but I was not prepared for how challenging the long days of classes and studying can be. I struggled initially with how much and how quickly information was thrown at me. If I could go back, I would try to implement better study habits early on and develop a system for organizing my notes.
    6. What advice do you have for someone interested in diving in deep into this industry? *
      1. Know your "why" and stick to your morals/values. Additionally, view every interaction as a networking opportunity. Veterinary medicine is a small community.
    7. What advice do you have for someone struggling with mental health? *
      1. Establish a support network and talk to them. Sometimes just verbalizing an emotion can make it feel tangible. This is especially important in vet school. Talk to your peers. We are all going through this experience together. I can guarantee that you are not alone even if it may feel like you are. It is important to recognize that veterinary medicine is a team sport. You are not expected to do this on your own.
    8. How has your vet school experience helped make you prioritize your needs and wants as a future veterinarian? (i.e., practice environment, sign-on bonus, prioritizing work-life balance, etc.)*
      1. My vet school experience has shown me that I need to be at a practice that sees me as an individual outside of my career. I love veterinary medicine; however, I do not want it to define me entirely. I want to work in an environment where I feel supported and encouraged as both an individual and a clinician. As a new grad, I will be prioritizing having a solid mentor who is willing to put their time and effort into my learning. Additionally, I want to be in an environment that encourages me to pursue research and curiosity in addition to my clinical work.
    9. Do you have any additional information that you would like to share that pertains to mental health & vet med advocation?
      1. You are not alone. Veterinary medicine is a team sport - not an individual sport. We need to work together. That being said, conversations like this are necessary to begin change. We have the power to transform veterinary medicine and prioritize the mental health of our clinicians.
      2. Know that it is okay to be wrong, you don’t have to be perfect, and you are going to make mistakes. You might not get straight As. If you do, great! If you don't, it does not make you less of a doctor. Please do not compare yourself to others! Just because someone studies from 8am-11pm doesn't mean that you must. There will always be something to study. Do not feel guilty for taking a break. I really struggle with that sometimes. It is hard not to compare yourself to your peers. Especially when you feel like you are failing and others are not. I promise that you are not failing. Sometimes it just might take you a little longer. But that is okay.
May 22, 2023 — Bailey DeGroat

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