Will Sitterson // Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine
Will is a rising 3rd year veterinary student at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
I can't thank Will enough for his time, friendship, and vulnerability to share his thoughts with TTV. Will'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 had a great role model that showed me that Vet Med is a career that can provide a very fulfilling life. As I continued through my schooling, no other career felt like it matched with my personal interests and could also provide me with an income that would support my future family. The diversity and flexibility of job opportunities in this field has me daydreaming about a different career path every few weeks, and I love that!
- What are your goals post graduation as a new graduate? (i.e. SA GP, LA GP, SA ER, Therio, etc.) *
- I’ve ranged from wanting to own a General Practice to pursuing a life as a Sea Turtle Research Veterinarian, so I am open to just about anything! I honestly really love school and the thought of specializing is appealing to me, but I think it’s too early to tell what I’ll actually end up doing. I look forward to finding out more about the lifestyle of the specialties during my rotations, but scholastically I think small animal internal medicine could be the best fit for me. The true goal is to be a lifelong learner and to do everything I need to do to not fall out of love with the profession.
- Why is mental health important to you? *
- “You can’t fill other’s cups if yours is empty.” It is an absolute privilege to be in the place that I am in today. I feel a responsibility to myself and to my support system to continuously show up as the best version of myself. The only way to possibly do that is to be in touch with what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.
- What skills have you implemented into your daily routine to mitigate stress, anxiety, depression, etc.*
- Listening to my body! Feel anxious? Find away to release that energy. Exhausted? Sleep in. (if your classes aren’t mandatory.) The worst thing I did when I started Vet School was force myself to go to everything, mandatory or not. Some people thrive in a classroom atmosphere for 9 hours a day, I do not! Find the routine that allows you to feel the most comfortable. For me, that means watching recorded lectures throughout the day so that I can fit in the things that help me feel sane.
- How does the administration at your school approach mental health? Is it a priority? Do they offer resources? *
- I think it’s hard for an administration to try and provide generalized mental health support to 120+ students who each need a different form of support. LSU does provide wellness afternoons, counseling, and has plenty of events that allow us to recenter ourselves, but I think creating a positive culture within the student body has been much more impactful on individuals’ mental health. At the end of the day vet school is very hard and very stressful, and there’s only so much a school can do to mitigate 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? *
- Yes and no. Undergrad is a completely different type of experience, and in my opinion the less you try to make undergrad like vet school, the better! I wouldn’t change much. It allowed me to pursue my interests outside of vet med and really grow as a person. The thing that prepared me the most for vet school was the gap year I took in between; it made me realize the best thing you can do when coming into vet school is to be malleable!
- What advice do you have for someone interested in diving in deep into this industry? *
- Trust your gut. There are a million reasons to get into vet med and none of them are better than another. Just because it wasn’t right for someone doesn’t mean it won’t be for you (and vise vera!). Talk to as many vets (from all areas) as you can, have solid foundation and reasoning for why you want to, and go for it!
- What advice do you have for someone struggling with mental health? *
- Recognizing when you need help is one of the biggest strengths you can have as a person. It’s okay to not be okay. There are people out there that want to build you up, let them!
- 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.)*
- Our clubs do an amazing job at bringing in relevant speakers for lunch-and-learns that help keep our eye on the prize. I’ve heard from lawyers, aquarium vets, and everything in between. Listening to these talks has helped me pinpoint what is it I can expect out of this profession if I perform how I know I can. Also, the faculty at LSU SVM is always MORE than willing to discuss with you paths into specific careers.
- Do you have any additional information that you would like to share that pertains to mental health & vet med advocation?
- Each and everyone of us in this profession is making the world a better place. YOU matter and YOU are making a difference.