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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Good Advice For New Students . . . And The Rest Of Us

September 15th, 2017

Alex Rowell with his rescue dog Winston.

Dear class of 2021,

I want to be the first of many people to welcome you to this new and thrilling journey that you are about to partake on. All of your hard work as an undergraduate student has paid off and as you begin on a new voyage, I want you to reflect upon a couple of important things that are vital to your overall well-being.

  1. Love- You have joined this noble profession for the love you have for animals. Whether you grew up on a farm and can name all your favorite, horses, chickens, and/or cows or you came from a large city and have a strong attachment to your first cat or dog. The love and passion you have for animals has been reward by the fact you have been given this wonderful opportunity here at OSU. To be a healer and a caretaker bares a great responsibility to not only your patients, but to the clients who you serve.
  2. Drive- There is no secret on how hard it is to get into a veterinary medicine program. For the very seat you occupy, there are hundreds maybe thousands of students who wish they could be in your shoes. I am not reminding you of this fact so you feel bad, but I want you to acknowledge how brilliant, hardworking, motivated, disciplined, and self-sacrificing you are! No, I am serious please take a minute to reflect on this……………………… go ahead……………………………….I can wait…………………………………………..There is a reason why I bring this up, there will be times when you are sitting in your first year class and you begin to question your own intelligence and then start to feel like you do not deserve to be here, but I will let you in on a little secret, there is no one more deserving to be here at OSU’s veterinary medicine program than you! Please NEVER forget that.
  3. Compassion- I am not talking about just having compassion for your patients and clients, I am talking about having compassion for yourself and your classmates. There will be times where that little voice inside of you will come up and whisper in your ear “try harder” or “why are you not as good as so and so” or “you are so dumb; how did you not know that.” These self-defeating statements and beliefs plague the veterinary profession and at what cost? Dr. Kristin Neff has three important elements of self-compassion to live by: self-compassion over self-judgment, common humanity over isolation, mindfulness over identification. If you remember to be warm, reflective and understanding towards yourself instead of doubting your own abilities, you will be a better learner. If you remember that you and your classmates are not alone and there are hundreds of people here to help you or one of your classmates, you will never have to feel you are the only one suffering. If you just sit with your current success and failures instead of ignoring them or suppressing them, you will be able to experience both the highs and lows of what these next four years have to offer.

I want to welcome the class of 2021 to Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Never forget the love you have for this profession, the drive that keeps you going after 8 to 10 hours of studying and the compassion you have for your patients and yourself. Stay voraciously hungry and you will find that the next time you put on a white coat, you will have a DVM after it.


Dr. Alex Rowell

CVM Wellness Coordinator and staff therapist




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