Brittney LaDue-Rossow // University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Brittney is a rising 3rd year veterinary student at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
I can't thank Brittney enough for her time, friendship, and vulnerability to share her thoughts with TTV. Brittney'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 TheTurquoiseVet@gamil.com.
- Why did you initially want to be a part of veterinary medicine? *
- Initially I wanted to be a human doctor! I got a pre-med degree and applied to medical school twice, but didn't get in. I was working in the human health field at the time and just realized that most of the doctors that I was seeing didn't seem to be practicing "true medicine" and I just decided it wasn't a good fit. One of my really good friends (more like a brother) said to me one day at church "well why don't you be an animal doctor??" I grew up on a cattle ranch and was raised around animals my whole life so I told him I'd look into it. I began looking into the requirements it took to get into vet school (I already had the majority of them from my pre-med degree), started shadowing at a veterinary clinic, and decided I wanted to make this my life!
- What are your goals post graduation as a new graduate? (i.e. SA GP, LA GP, SA ER, Therio, etc.) *
- I graduated veterinary school in 2021. I worked for about 6 months at an established clinic before getting married and moving back to my home state of South Dakota. I just started my own practice and learning all the in's and out's of running a business has been a challenge, yet an adventure. It was a goal of mine to start my own practice and now I am living it out. Feels like I'm dreaming sometimes!
- Why is mental health important to you? *
- The first year of veterinary school was the toughest for me. I had moved to a new state where I didn't know anybody and was in a big city that I felt out of place in. I suck at making new friends too, so that was a challenge. I struggled in school staying afloat. Prior to that time, I don't think I had an inkling of an idea what it was like to be depressed or have super anxious thoughts. I did experience days where I didn't want to really get out of bed and those were very new emotions for me to process and get passed. Mental health is important to me because PEOPLE matter to me! Everybody has those thoughts that say "I can't do this anymore", "I'm not good enough", "It's too much". There are ways you can overcome those thoughts!
- What skills have you implemented into your daily routine to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, etc.*
- I get myself in a mental state and try to picture myself a year from now. If I don't think I will remember what is going on in the current state in a year from now, I tell myself to not waste energy over analyzing the situation. Looking back to my vet school years, most situations that I was down in the dumps I don't remember why. So just know that you can push through the tough times and persevere. Always have the end goal in mind!
- How does the administration at your school approach mental health? Is it a priority? Do they offer resources?
- We had lots of talks about mental health, I believe there was even a week dedicated to it. I don't remember too much specifics but I remember having a day called "R U OK" Day. I would say they definitely make it a priority and offer resources. I think however, COVID through some curveballs at the counselor that helped vet students so I think they pulled that resource, but things might have changed in the last 2-3 years, so don't quote me on that.
- 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? *
- I was not prepared AT ALL! Besides having a place to live and knowing where the closest grocery store was, I was a new baby fish swimming in the ocean. I would first tell myself that it's okay to not know everything. And it is literally impossible for you to learn and remember everything that is thrown your way. I wish I would've known I was a paper person when studying instead of forcing myself to do everything on my computer. I didn't find a way that I studied well until probably mid-first semester of second year. It was a struggle!
- What advice do you have for someone interested in diving in deep into this industry? *
- Put yourself out there, engage in opportunity! Find vets (plural) that will guide you and give you different perspectives. Get your hands dirty!
- What advice do you have for someone struggling with mental health? *
- Talk to someone, don't wait! If you are at the point you are truly struggling and not just dealing with the occasional negative thought and it is effecting your day to day life, just talk to someone. There is no shame and no one will judge you for just being human.
- 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.)*
- Honestly vet school taught me not to be a perfectionist anymore. It was just too much for me to get an A on every exam or homework. I would compare myself to classmates that seemed to be doing way better than me which was so harmful to my self image and confidence. I learned in vet school that it was okay to not be that way. I have my own limits and abilities and I learned how to embrace that. Now as I am starting my own business, I have the occasional negative thought that tells me "You have NO idea what you are doing!" Yeah maybe that's true, but I have people that can help me find the answer if I can't find it myself. There is no shame in that.
- Do you have any additional information that you would like to share that pertains to mental health & vet med advocation?
- When you are feeling worn out, step back a take a look at the bigger picture. Do you need to eat or take a nap? Maybe a shower? Maybe call a family member you haven't talked to in while. You never know where you might get that next boost of energy or encouragement that keeps you going. Have a life outside of school and career. Life is too short and your identity is not just what you do.