Catherine LeBlond // Atlantic Veterinary College
Catherine is a rising 3rd year veterinary student at Atlantic Veterinary College.
I can't thank Catherine enough for her time, friendship, and vulnerability to share her thoughts with TTV. Catherine'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? *
- I have always had a passion for science and medicine. I was torn between human medicine and veterinary medicine for a while, but ultimately went with my heart and chose the veterinary route. I (like so many of us) have loved animals since I was very little, and knew I would end up with either a serious animal hobby or a career related to animals.
- What are your goals post graduation as a new graduate? (i.e. SA GP, LA GP, SA ER, Therio, etc.) *
- I am considering going into emergency medicine, either a mixed practice or small animal. If not emergency, I will go into a mixed animal general practice.
- Why is mental health important to you? *
- My mental health has been something I have struggled with my whole life. I spent many of those years believing that I would never be successful because of the challenges I faced. It is so important to me that people who are in the thick of it with their mental illness know that it is possible to struggle AND be successful. Things really do get better, and I wish I'd had someone to show me that growing up.
- What skills have you implemented into your daily routine to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, etc.*
- Follow a routine, ESPECIALLY with a good sleep schedule. Learning about sleep hygiene is super helpful if you have a hard time with anxiety or sleeping at night. I like to keep my night time routine pretty consistent and I find that really helps me sleep better and feel more rested in the morning. I like to shower before bed and then read a book for an hour. It's really hard in this day and age, but try not to make screens the last thing you look at before closing your eyes. I find that if I scroll through social media or watch a show right before bed, I have a harder time getting to sleep. Another thing that I have found helpful to mitigate the stress of being a vet student is to force yourself outside. Even if it's January and you live on a cold, windy island in Canada (like me), force yourself to go outside. Get some exercise. Think about something other than all the schoolwork you have to do. I find I'm actually even more productive after I allow myself to take a real study break (not just sitting in front of the TV with one eye on your laptop looking at notes). Staying social is also so important. I'm a huge introvert, so it means a lot for me to say that. Getting out of your apartment/living space and actually doing things with friends can be exactly what you need when you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.
- How does the administration at your school approach mental health? Is it a priority? Do they offer resources? *
- My school has many resources for those who need help with their mental health. There is a wellness committee for the vet students that host fun little gatherings and provide support. There are also counselors you can access through the main university. There is a peer support group that is led by psychology students that people can join, I think they convene 3-4 times per semester.
- 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 actually did feel prepared as a pre-vet student. I was lucky enough to go to an awesome university for my undergraduate studies (shoutout University of Wisconsin-River Falls!) that was a huge animal science school. If I could go back, I would have tried to shadow a wider variety of veterinary practices. I only shadowed small animal practices, so I would recommend also shadowing large or mixed animal practices to get a more well-rounded idea of the differences in veterinary work.
- What advice do you have for someone interested in diving in deep into this industry?
- Start with shadowing! Don't dive in until you truly know what veterinary medicine is. It's easy to love puppies and kittens, but not everyone has the grit to do what we do every day. Most veterinarians are open to those who want to shadow and would be happy to show you how awesome our field is!
- What advice do you have for someone struggling with mental health? *
- It sounds cliche, but don't give up. As long as you're still breathing, there's hope.
- 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.)*
- I have learned that I really value work-life balance, and that will be a priority for me when choosing a practice as a veterinarian. I have also learned how important it is to know your value and worth and stand firm in what you believe.