A week before the December exams, I found myself making the five-hour train journey south to not-so-sunny Leicestershire for the first time since I left for uni in September.
This wasn’t because I couldn’t stand being away from the horses for a minute longer (though it was starting to get that way), but because I wanted to go back for the funeral of a family friend. These things happen, and I continued to revise for the exams while back at home.
For most of us at vet school, everything we’d done beforehand was aimed at getting in. Studying, sports, work experience. Most of us were good at what we did, going above and beyond our past classmates. To get into vet school, we were pretty much top of the class. To us, anything lower than an A was catastrophic. We had to be the best to have the chance of even getting an interview.
Now, with our first exams looming, for the first time, the possibility of failure had become a very real thing. The sheer amount of information we’ve been cramming into our heads since the start of term couldn’t possibly be remembered, could it? We’d heard the scare stories from the second years:
“Nobody passes all of the December exams.”
“You’re lucky if you get 40%.”
Here, we were on the level playing field of a whole new ball game. I think we’d all tried to mentally prepare ourselves for the worst over the coming week.
Was this just the start of the possibility of failure though? In practice, it is by no means always possible to cure the animal put in front of you. Whether that’s because it’s not possible to provide a diagnosis or treatment because we don’t know enough about the condition, because the disease process is too far along, or because of economical limitation, the fact remains the same. We will have to accept that we cannot do everything for every animal we are presented with in the coming years.
However, just because we may not succeed, we have not necessarily failed.