Kelsee Brady // University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine
Kelsee is a rising 3rd year veterinary student at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
I can't thank Kelsee enough for her time, friendship, and vulnerability to share her thoughts with TTV. Kelsee'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've always been drawn to animals and I love helping people. I grew up in rural Southwest Georgia and I was surrounded by all kinds of animals, large and small. I knew from a very young age that being a veterinarian was my calling and I'm thankful to be pursuing it still.
- What are your goals post graduation as a new graduate? (i.e. SA GP, LA GP, SA ER, Therio, etc.) *
- Feline exclusive GP
- Why is mental health important to you? *
- Mental health used to be a minor thing to me, until midway through high school when I ended up in the emergency room after not getting enough sleep.Since then, I take anxiety medication and see a therapist regularly. It was difficult to accept that my mind could not function independently, but I came to realize that the medication I was taking, and continue to take, allows me to function and do the things that are fulfilling to me. Mental health is important to me because it so often falls through the cracks when the reality is that it can ultimately impact your entire health: physically, mentally and psychologically.
- What skills have you implemented into your daily routine to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, etc.*
- The biggest factor to decreasing my stress and anxiety is rationalizing my expectations. What I mean by this is that I set high expectations for myself and with the demands of vet school and life, those expectations are not always realistic. I cannot always study or plan for unexpected phone calls with friends or family. Life happens and it doesn't go according to any plan. So internally managing those expectations and adjusting them to a new schedule was a big hurdle for me to jump through and I still struggle with it. I also try to enjoy any free time that I get. It doesn't always mean ignoring school work or procrastination. Sometimes it looks like studying with a friend or riding the bus across campus to get Panda Express during a long lunch break. Anything that can get me out of my head and sometimes, away from the vet school, helps ground me in the real world and I can let go of my worries a little easier.
- How does the administration at your school approach mental health? Is it a priority? Do they offer resources? *
- The administration recognize the increase in mental health struggles within the veterinary community and from day one of orientation, they introduce students to the counselors on-campus and encourage them to reach out if needed. These counselors are also involved with some curriculum from a professional skills standpoint in providing coping strategies and mental health resources to students. The UGA CVM offers a ton of resources for mental health, both through the university and CVM-specific. We have a peer support system called the Bulldawg Support Network that provides contact information for volunteers who range from faculty to students to help whenever asked. The CVM also has two counselors who only see vet students, one at each campus, and they are readily available and willing to help. Additionally, there is a SAVMA Wellness Committee who hosts events throughout the semester like ice skating, succulent planting, yoga and kickboxing. The university provides online wellness resources, crisis counseling and access to physicians through the Health Center.
- 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 thought I was prepared, and academically, I believe I was. The mental shift to vet school was the hardest for me to overcome. Adjusting to essentially a new lifestyle was very difficult and took much longer than I expected it to. If I could go back, I would try to give myself more grace and stop telling myself that I wasn't doing enough. Even though the competition of vet school was over, I continually convinced myself that I needed to study a certain way and set other unattainable goals that just prevented me from taking advantage of the community around me.
- What advice do you have for someone interested in diving in deep into this industry?
- You have to keep believing it's possible. The "it" might change. It could be getting into vet school, passing classes while in vet school, passing the NAVLE, or getting your dream job after graduation. But your mindset is everything. If you can believe it, you can do it. Even when it feels like you can't, keep reminding yourself that you can. You just have to keep going. Some days are going to be harder than others, but in the end, you'll find yourself wondering how you got there so fast.
- What advice do you have for someone struggling with mental health? *
- Don't be afraid to talk about it. Struggling with mental health is scary and is sometimes extremely stigmatized, but if we never talk about our mental health, we'll never get better. Give yourself grace and talk to an outside perspective. They don't have to be a therapist. You can talk to a friend or a loved one or a professor, just someone that doesn't inhabit your body who can help you rationalize the thoughts in your mind. If you need more help, ask someone. Advocating for your own mental health can be draining, but there is no better feeling than being validated in your concerns and experience by a mental health professional who can help you through whatever you may be facing.
- 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.)*
- Vet school has opened to my eyes to the enormous world of possibilities as a veterinarian and how those possibilities also apply to contract negotiations and finding jobs that value you as an individual and employee. Despite the reality of the veterinarian shortage, it is reassuring to know that the jobs are out there and that there is flexibility in finding the right personal fit.