What Should a Letter of Recommendation Say?

I have already advised you to make sure you ask for a GOOD letter of recommendation.  The problem is, you usually can’t see the letter before it is submitted, so it’s impossible to know if it is good or not.  Nonetheless, there are some features of letters of recommendation that you want to make sure get included. Let’s review those features, then discuss how you can maybe make sure they get included in your letters.

  1. Competence.  No one wants to take an incompetent student as an intern and go through the work of training them up.  Students entering vet school are assumed to be incompetent as veterinarians- that’s why they’re going to vet school.  But they should be at least competent students- able to study, learn information, and pass assessments.
  2. Hard working.  No one wants to work with a lazy person.  No. One.
  3. Pleasant/Positive/Easy to Work With.  As I’ve mentioned before, you don’t have to be a bubbly happy always-on perfect extrovert.  But you DO have to make sure your letter writers LIKE working with you and will tell others they did so.  No one wants to work with someone who’s difficult to work with.
  4. Teachable.  If you are applying for a training program, being open to being taught is absolutely essential.  You want letter writers to make it clear you are eager to learn and willing to learn. Students who are resistant to being taught are very frustrating to work with.  Sometimes letter writers include intelligence in this domain. I think that’s fine, but I’ve known plenty of smart people who KNOW they are smart; consequently they believe they have nothing to learn.  Being smart is not sufficient.

These are the features I look for and believe are important.  Others may differ- evaluators are a highly heterogenous group.  But I believe you can’t go wrong having a recommendation letter say you are good at these things.  So, this is what you want on your letter. How do you make sure these elements are included? Here are two strategies, with their benefits and pitfalls specified.

  1. Ask the letter writer to mention something specific.  This is particularly helpful if the letter writer does not do a lot of letters of recommendation– for example the general practice vet you worked for.  You may be able to ask for 1-2 specific items. You can phrase this as, “For this program, they are particularly interested in my ability to follow through and take orders positively.”  A more general ask may be, “I’d particularly appreciate if you can comment on my work ethic and how I am to work with.” The benefit of this approach is that you are much more likely to have it included if you ask for it.  The pitfalls are two-fold. One, you may offend the letter writer. Two, they may do as you ask, but you may not be a very hard worker, so they may include that when they otherwise wouldn’t have.
  2. Be amazing.  Look, if you want to get a letter of recommendation where they say you work hard, it’s simple: WORK HARD.  Follow all the suggestions in the How to Be Successful Series. Be the hardest, best, most competent person out there, so you KNOW your letter writers will see and acknowledge those qualities.

So, that’s what you want people to write and a couple suggestions on how to get them to write it.  What do you think? Anything else that should be added?

The Key to Motivation

Fig 1 – Self Determination Theory Continuum

I have a hard time understanding people who have no motivation to do anything meaningful.  I understand lacking motivation sometimes. I have an email in my inbox right now about a research paper I’ve been working on for years.  One of my collaborators reviewed it and suggested a ton of (very constructive) changes. But now I need to go and DO it, and I don’t want to.

But I’ve never struggled with not wanting to go to school or go to work.  I don’t understand not wanting to put in long hours. I don’t understand not wanting to study and learn more.  I realize that unmotivated people are out there. There’s a huge industry of motivational speakers for a reason.  I think I am privileged to have a high degree of internal motivation. So let’s look at motivation in its entirety, since it is the foundation for all action.

Motivation exists on a spectrum, from amotivation to intrinsic motivation (Fig 1).  Along the way, you have varying degrees of extrinsic motivation. Amotivation is lacking motivation of any kind- you lack control or don’t do anything.  Intrinsic motivation is where you do it just for fun. A classic example is Wikipedia.  

Why do people spend countless hours adding entries there and contributing to this?  They don’t get paid, they may or may not get recognition. They do it because it satisfies something inside them.  I started the Veterinary Anesthesia Wikipedia page in 2007 because I thought it was important for the World to Know that veterinary anesthesia is a distinct entity and should have an encyclopedia entry.  No one knew I did it, I never told anyone, I received no external validation. So why do we do it?

You can’t punish or reward people- that just creates extrinsic motivation.  The Self-Determination Theory states that people move towards intrinsic motivation because of three concepts: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Autonomy is getting to decide your actions.  This doesn’t have to mean absolute chaos and Do Whatever You Want.  It’s the ability to make a decision. For example, I tend to give two question options when giving a quiz.  The choices are limited- so it’s not anarchy. But the students get to choose which question they answer. When on clinics, I try to always ask the students, “What do you want to do?” and, if it’s reasonable, let them try it.  Autonomy makes people feel in control, which makes them more engaged, which makes them more intrinsically motivated. One of the best books on this is Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn.  I highly recommend it.

Competence is getting better at something.  Why do people choose to learn a musical instrument, or a martial art, or dance?  There is some social aspect of it (which we’ll get to), but getting better at a skill is FUN.  The principles if Kaizen – continuous improvement- fits nicely with Self-Determination Theory. Humans like improvement.

Relatedness is connection to others.  Maybe you started learning an instrument because you thought it would be a neat skill.  Then you met others and created a social network which keep you going. I see this all the time in dancing and martial arts.  People don’t STAY in these activities because of the skill acquisition. They stay because they meet people and form a community.

I think most veterinarians and specialists are highly intrinsically motivated, since we don’t tend to accept slackers.  Nonetheless, there will be things you Do Not Want To Do. And that’s OK. But if you know that you need to nurture autonomy, competence, and relatedness, you can find a way to motivation.  I try to build my life oriented towards these concepts and, as a result, I am very happy getting out of bed each day. I encourage you to do the same.

What Questions Will They Ask During My Faculty Interview?

In contrast with vet school interviews, where the questions can be all over the place, the questions for faculty interviews are usually pretty similar.  Here are the important ones I can think of.

“Why do you want to work here?”  This is almost always asked during an interview, often repeatedly by a variety of people.  “Because they will pay me” is clearly an unacceptable answer. Find something interesting about the institution.  I myself am not a fan of personal reasons like “Because my family is here.” I prefer professional reasons like, “I hear people enjoy going to work here and I like working with positive people” and “I want to build a program, which is what you are looking for someone to do here” and “I can pursue the research which is interesting and productive for me here.”  Obviously, personalize your answer and have it be more than one line. Never ever say, “Because the place I am now is horrible.” Even if this is true, no one wants to hire a new faculty who is running away from something, they want to hire someone who is running towards something.

“What research do you want to do?” Academia is about teaching, research, and service.  Unless you are applying for a strongly clinical position with no expectations for research, you will probably be asked this.  Even if you are going for a strongly clinical position, have an answer ready. It will be a check in the positive column for you.  For tenure-track positions, they may want to know about your prospects for grants or a direction for your research. Your answer doesn’t need to be a multi-page proposal, but you should have a few decent ideas.

“What would you want to change if you came here?”  This may be asked specifically regarding clinical services.  Hopefully, you know enough about the service to answer, but if you don’t, it is perfectly fair to give a general answer or explain how you typically approach problems with the structure of a service.

“What do you want to teach?”  I admit I’m not sure if I’ve been asked this, but I think it’s a fair question and I am always prepared to answer it.  You’ll probably be expected to contribute to the core class(es) taught by your discipline, but if you are excited to do an elective, you could mention it as well.

“Why should we hire you?”  It probably won’t come out like this, but that is the sentiment.  You may be given an opportunity to explain why you are the best candidate for the position.  As always, be humble, but you can take the opportunity here to explain what you feel you bring to the program. The “You-Do; I-Do” model is a great way to convey this information without sounding like you’re bragging. If you are excited about bringing clinical research, but they want a benchtop scientist, then it’s better to figure that out now than after you start!  Again, as always, be honest.

Those are the questions I can think of which are common to faculty interviews.  Obviously, many other things will come up over the course of a one to two-day interview.  But if you prepare for these questions (and their variations), I think you will have a good foundation for an interview.

What Questions Will They Ask in My Vet School Interview?

I have been reluctant to write this post for a while.  Not because I feel like discussing interview questions is cheating.  As we have covered before, preparation is _expected_ for an interview- if you don’t research and prepare, you are shooting yourself in the foot.  

I think my reluctance centers around two issues: 

  • 1) there are plenty of other people out there on the internet who can address this and 
  • 2) vet schools are so individualistic with their interviews that it’s nearly impossible to provide helpful, generalized advice.  So here is my best effort to help you prepare for questions asked during your vet school interview.

First, it should not have to be said, you should research specific questions asked by specific schools.  Some may consider this to be undermining the system, like getting the questions for a test before the exam.  I disagree with that because I think interviewees SHOULD be prepared to answer the questions. I want to test what they say and how they say it; I don’t want to try to stump them, surprise them, or confuse them.  If the interviewee is surprised, I am gauging their ability to respond to stress, not necessarily their answer to the question.  If this is part of the “point” of the interview, fine, I just think that’s unconstructive.

Go out onto the internet and type in “vet school interview questions” and get some ideas for the specific questions you may get asked.  There are a wide variety of ways to categorize these questions, and I will do so along these lines: compassion, competence, and curiosity.  Compassion is what brings you vet school, competence is what you get during school, and you need curiosity to be a good vet throughout your life.  I think, fundamentally, schools want to evaluate these three domains.

Compassion may be tested with questions about ethical challenges, your determination/grit, your leadership, and interpersonal conflicts.  Competence may be tested with questions about difficult decisions, your performance in school or other activities, what you know about the profession/school, and what you’ve learned from various experiences.  Curiosity may be tested with questions about how you handled an unknown situation, your involvement in research, and your career aspirations.

You absolutely need to have a good answer for, “Why do you want to come here?”  Regurgitating a talking point from the presentation you just heard about the school is fine, but fairly transparent and doesn’t do much to advance your interview.  You should have an answer to that question before you even leave for the interview. Like all interview answers, it should be succinct but demonstrate a bit about your personality or interests.

As I have mentioned before, make sure to use examples from your life in your responses.  I also strongly recommend you have questions for the interviewers. Ones that I think are helpful for prospective students are, “What do you like about the school/What brought you to work here?”  “What would you change about the school if you could?” and “Why do you feel the student experience is better here than anywhere else?”

You can’t have a prepared answer for every question, which is another reason I am not inclined to provide specific questions.  Also, questions asked in previous years may change or no longer be asked. I think having a holistic, philosophical approach to answering interview questions is better than preparing specific answers for every question you can think of.  Nonetheless, you should think of a couple of very common questions and think about the type of answer you might give. If it comes off as too polished and prepared, it may not be interpreted as being very sincere. So think about answers, but don’t rehearse them exhaustively.

What questions are you most worried about being asked in an interview?

How to Be Successful: Fail

Lindsey Stirling, now massively successful, getting chewed out by the judges on AGT.

With 1.8 unique applicants per available position in US veterinary schools, many applicants will not be admitted.  Most intern applicants do not get their #1 pick. Many resident applicants don’t get a residency.  You will make a mistake that kills a patient. One surgeon I worked for said, “If you haven’t seen a complication doing this, you haven’t done enough of them.”  In veterinary medicine: You. Will. Fail. The question is, when you do, what do you do next?

“Failure is part of the recipe for success.”

“Just because you’ve failed doesn’t MAKE you a failure.”

“The loser and the winner have both failed, it’s just that the winner gets back up and tries it again.”

“Learn from each and every one of your mistakes.”

These are just some quotes I think speak to the issue of failure in a positive way.  Our culture doesn’t deal with failure well. We have this concept that, if you fail, you aren’t good at what you do.  The reality is far more nuanced. In medicine, how often should doctors make mistakes? Most people would say 0%, but that isn’t realistic since we are all human.  We don’t talk about failure in medicine, and I think that does a massive disservice to our profession.

So, if you try enough things, eventually you will fail.  The problem then is: how do you become OK with failing? It’s a tricky balance to strike: you want to be successful, you want to TRY to succeed, and you can’t ignore failure, but you can’t let failure overtake you.  I think the issue boils down to: what do you do when you fail?  

You will have some negative emotion initially- that’s perfectly human and you should let yourself have those feelings.  Then, do you ignore the failure, learn from it, or become consumed by it to the point that you feel you can never succeed?

Ignore failure.  This way is the path of the narcissist, the egotist, and the sociopath.  If you fail and ignore it, you won’t become a better person. You’ll continue to make the same mistakes and won’t grow in life.

Become consumed by failure.  This is the path of the disaffected, overwhelmed, and despondent.  You fixate on a failure, or even a series of failures, and begin to believe that failure is who you are.  You focus on the negative.  This is a downward spiral which is hard to recover from.

Learn from failure.  This is the path of the healthy, growing, developing human being.  You make a mistake, or have a failure, and figure out what happened, why it happened, how it happened, and what to do to prevent it from happening again.  The focus shouldn’t be on blaming who failed (yourself or someone else). The focus should be on what you can take from that experience to make you (or the system) better for the future.

Living life and practicing medicine involves failure.  Complex systems _will_ have mistakes occur in them, and you are a part of many complex systems.  When you experience failure, don’t ignore it, don’t wallow in it. Be sad, or frustrated, or whatever negative emotion you need to experience.  Then think about the experience, learn from it, and become better.

What Mindset Should You Have When Applying to Faculty Jobs?

Opinions on this may differ, but I wanted to share with you my philosophical approach to applying to faculty jobs.  It can be summarized pretty easily: don’t bluff and be genuine. This can be harder to do than it sounds.

Academic institutions have interesting, but fairly consistent approaches to salaries and raises.  There is usually more money available for new hires than for existing hires. Existing hires have had to get raises through lean years and when the legislature (if a public school) is more conservative with education than other years.  As a result, salary compression occurs.

Salary compression is when people who have been working at an institution for a while end up making less than a new hire.  Although uncommon, you can have a situation where a full professor makes less than a new assistant professor.  While you don’t need to make a lot of money to be happy, you DO need to make a fair amount of money to be happy.  Studies indicate that employees are generally happy with their salary if it is fair.  Unfortunately, salary compression can result in salaries not being fair among faculty members.

The ‘solution’ to this problem in academia is, unfortunately, applying for other jobs, getting an offer, and then using that to negotiate with your home institution.  I put the solution in quotes because I hate this solution. I believe it is disingenuous. This may be where my sense of an idealized world hits against reality: you shouldn’t HAVE to resort to this, the institution should keep your salary at pace with others over time.  But I understand that isn’t always reality and this is how some people manage it.

I had one colleague who was grossly underpaid at a large state school.  He was a full professor, had asked for an adjustment, and been told ‘no’.  As a consequence, he began applying elsewhere. Once he got an offer from another institution, his home school was suddenly able to find money and pay enough to keep him.  Would he have actually left if he hadn’t gotten a retention offer? Maybe yes, maybe no.

What I would prefer to advise people instead is this: if salary means that much to you (I sure wish it wouldn’t), and you are genuinely unhappy because of the lack of fairness, then you should genuinely look for a job elsewhere.  It should not be a ploy or a bluff. If you are unhappy, you SHOULD look for a different job. But I believe you should only look for jobs you may seriously consider taking.

I feel that it is a disservice to the institution and, potentially, your reputation to interview somewhere you absolutely know you will not go.  Most schools dedicate significant time and energy to faculty interviews- you don’t want to waste those resources. Also, maybe there is another candidate who would LOVE to go there but doesn’t get an interview because you take up one of the slots.  We routinely interview only about 3 people on average for many faculty positions. If you know you won’t go somewhere, don’t take someone else’s spot.

On the other hand, if you believe you COULD go there, even if you’re not sure, then it is fair to apply and interview.  I have applied to institutions I wasn’t sure about and, after visiting, was favorably impressed and willing to consider moving if given an offer.  Some places I have interviewed and decided it wasn’t a good fit for me, but I didn’t know that before visiting.  

My wife went on numerous interviews and got several offers, which helped refine her understanding of what she wanted from her career.  So I’m not saying don’t interview unless you’re certain you will accept an offer. You may need to go through an interview to decide if the institution or job is right for you.  I am saying: don’t interview if you’re certain you wouldn’t accept an offer. To do so is not being genuine.

My Experience at SAVMA Symposium 2019

I had the good fortune to be able to present some topics near and dear to my heart at the 2019 SAVMA Symposium held in Athens, GA in March.  I presented on Medical Error, was on a panel about Internships, and presented Preparing For and Securing an Internship. I wasn’t sure what would happen with each talk. Here’s what did happen:

Medical Error

My main goal with this talk is to get people to realize that error is an activity intrinsic to any human endeavor.  It is particularly problematic in highly complex, tightly coupled, and obscure systems, as happens in a biological entity like our patients.  Ultimately, if an error happens, focus on What Happened, How it Happened, Why it Happened, and What to Do to Prevent it from Happening Again. DO NOT focus on the WHO.  Errors happen because of systems, not because of people. We spend a lot of time focusing on the person engaged in the error, when we should be deconstructing the system which led to the error.

I think this talk was well-received.  I tend to get positive feedback about it because most people have not gotten this message before.  A few questions were asked about how to deal with the emotional consequences of being the one who made the error.  The room was about 25% full and everyone seemed engaged, which was heartening.

Internship Panel

I was a late addition to this group because someone else canceled.  I was honored to be invited and to participate. There were three faculty clinicians and one vet from the sponsor organization.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the moderator was prepared for a panel session. Once things opened, we sat awkwardly for a little while before I proposed, “Why don’t we give a brief background on each of us?”  I felt like I had to lead the panel with questions for us all to answer. This was kind of OK- I’ve been on many internship panels over the years. I just felt uncomfortable because I felt like I was controlling the panel, which was not my role as a participant.

The room was probably 40% full, and the audience seemed engaged.  They asked good questions and the other panel members were helpful.  One spoke a bit excessively, but they were young and this was probably their first panel.  Overall, I think the attendees benefitted, but it may have been time slightly more efficiently spent.

Preparing For and Securing an Internship

I was super excited to present this talk.  I had only just launched The Vetducator blog, although I’d been writing posts for a few months by this point.  I was feeling very enthusiastic to help vet students with their next step and spent a lot of time thinking about the most impactful things I could say.  I expected to have maybe 6-10 attendees and we would circle the chairs in the room and have a chit-chat about internships. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.

By the time I was scheduled to start, the room was 90% full and people kept trickling in until it was standing room only.  My interactive format was not conducive to a room of 50+ students, so I adapted on the fly. I encouraged questions and began going through my presentation.  By the time I hit 30 minutes in, I was only 25% done with the presentation due to the great questions I got. I flew through some slides to hit on some major points and allow time for Q&A at the end.  Everyone seems engaged and interested and enthusiastic to hear my perspective. It was an extremely supportive experience as my first outing as The Vetducator.

I was extremely impressed with the organization of the Symposium from the speaker’s point of view- everything was well laid out, I had clear instructions of when and where to go, and had a moderator present to introduce me and help with technology.  I hope the students had a similar experience. Based on the experience, I contacted the organizers for the 2020 Symposium at Cornell and have arranged to present several hours there, including some topics from The Vetducator. Hopefully, I saw you in Athens and will see you at Cornell!

One Year Anniversary!

Steady progression over the past 9 months!

A year ago, March 2019, I launched The Vetducator blog. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done in the last 12 months.

I love statistics. Numbers are so wonderfully illuminating. When I am running statistical analyses, I am in my ‘flow’ state and time just drifts by. So, the numbers first!

Visitors: 28,209

Visits: 84,979

Posts: 118

Comments: 32

Podcast Episodes: 9

Paid clients: 4

The numbers are wonderful, particularly the number of visitors and visits. I am so grateful that people are reading and, hopefully, learning. I would like to spread the message and information even more broadly, so welcome suggestions on how to reach the intern/resident-bound population. Maybe in a few more years, once the students I have advised are graduating, they will come back and read the topics on internship/residency applications.

I continue to enjoy thinking up ideas and writing posts. As of this post, I have posts pre-scheduled through June 2020, have 28 written which need to be loaded into posts, and ideas for 108 more topics. WordPress continues to tell me my posts aren’t ‘optimized’ for readability. And I know blog posts 2000-3000 words are statistically better reads than my short posts, but I like keeping things simple and know the time of my readers is incredibly valuable.

What I’ve learned this year is that those interested in getting in to vet school are the most easy-to-access demographic and possibly the most passionate. I imagine those who want a residency are also passionate, but are hard to reach. I’ve also learned that it can be challenging to find good podcast guests.

This coming year, I plan to continue to post twice a week- Monday and Thursday. I am considering doing a second podcast series, maybe focused specifically for those interested in getting in to vet school. And I’d like to do more guest posting, but there aren’t a lot of people doing anything similar to what I’m doing in veterinary medicine.

Thank you for reading and participating, and I hope you keep coming back for quality content this year!

Do Grades Matter?

This year, I spoke at the SAVMA Symposium about internship and how to maximize your chances to get them.  I got a surprising number of questions about grades. “I hear some programs care about grades a lot.” “Do programs look at your transcripts?”  “Our classes are these amalgamated courses so we don’t get many different grades. Will that hurt my chances?” I was largely not prepared to answer these questions, because they confuse me.  Before I get to that, let me address the concerns.

“Do grades matter?”  Yes. This will vary by program and individual evaluator, but almost all will make a note of grades and/or class rank.  When I evaluate interns, if they are in the bottom quarter or the top 3 of the class rank, I make a little note. I look at the rest of the application and base my decision largely on everything else.  

I use class rank to cue me to what to look for.  If a candidate is in the bottom quarter and the letter of intent is poorly constructed and the letters of reference and not very laudatory, I would probably give them a low score.  If they are in the top 3 and the letter of intent is boastful and the letters of references do not mention they are easy to work with, I would probably also score them low.

“Do grades in specific courses matter?”  Unlikely. It’s possible residencies may look at the grade you got in their discipline in vet school, but looking through transcripts is usually not very illuminating and is time-consuming.  Again, individuals may vary- maybe the ophthalmologist on the selection committee makes sure every applicant at least got a “B” in the ophtho course in vet school. But I believe this is unlikely.

“What do I do if my grades are not good?”  “What programs care about good grades?” “What if my school gives one grade for the whole semester?”  “Do programs look at your undergrad grades?” These are the questions that confuse me.  If you don’t have good grades, that’s in the past.  You can’t do anything about it. You can’t know what programs care about grades, so apply where you want.  If your school gives you a single grade for the whole semester, you can’t do anything about that.  If programs look at your undergrad grades, you can’t affect that.

Stop.  Worrying.  If you are in your pre-clinical years, yes, obviously study and try to do well.  But if it is in the past, there’s nothing to be done about it. Follow the advice I give on How to be Successful.  Be an RFHB. Aim for Zero. Show Up. All of that you can affect. The grades you got before, you cannot affect.  

So, don’t think about them.  Focus on what you can control now, which is the future.  As C-3PO told Chewie, “He made a fair move, screaming about it can’t help you.”  Screaming about what happened in the past can’t help you. Please stop.

How to be Successful: Be on Time

When I was growing up, my mom’s best friend was always 10 to15 minutes late to anything.  I never really understood it. There was always Something that came up last minute that prevented her from getting there on time.  This was my first encounter with people who are just tardy all the time. Other people are consistently timely. Most people are probably in the middle, and I want to sway you to be timely.  But first, why be on time?  

  1. You may miss out.  If you’re going to a meeting or presentation, you may miss out on some important information you would have liked to have.  Why go to a meeting to participate if you’re not going to get there in time to participate?
  2. You get noticed.  Trust me, showing up late to a talk turns heads. The student who walks into rounds even 5 minutes late bugs the heck out of me.  It disrupts the rounds and brings everyone’s focus to that individual. You don’t want to stand out in a bad way.
  3. It is disrespectful.  I think this is the nidus of what irritates me about people who are late.  They are implying that their time is worth more than my time. This is a very self-centered behavior.
  4. Putting the time in is how you get good.  Step number one for anything is to show up.  Show up on time to get the most out of your time.
  5. Successful people are timely.  OK, maybe the eccentric entrepreneur can get away with breezing into work whenever.  Think about the last time you went to see a physician. How long did you wait? Did that irritate you?  If a different doctor was on time, all things being equal, which would you choose? 

OK, so now you know it is important to be timely if you want to be a successful veterinary professional.  How do you get there? Here are some strategies which may help.

  1. The easiest method, which works for people who don’t have a chronic tardiness problem, is to aim to show up 5 minutes early.  Don’t aim to arrive on time, aim to arrive early. That way, if you have some slight delay, you’ll still get there on time. Also, showing up early indicates you are eager, energetic, and want to do whatever activity is happening.
  2. If you are chronically tardy, try keeping track of how late you arrive.  Then plan to arrive that amount of time ahead. This is like #1, except that it is more personalized.  If you are always 15 minutes late, aim to arrive 15 minutes early.
  3. My personal method is to set all of my clocks ahead 7 minutes.  This means if I arrive when my clock says, I am 7 minutes early.  I know there is a little flex time built into my clock, but 7 is an awkward enough number to do math in my head that it’s usually not worth it to me to figure out exactly how many minutes I have before I have to be somewhere.  I just know to aim right around the time when something starts, and statistically, I will be there early.
  4. Care about being on time.  Read the reasons why you should be on time.  Talk to professionals in veterinary medicine.  I don’t know a single professor who likes it when students stroll into class late.  Once you BELIEVE it is important to be on time, it is easier to shift your behavior.

What challenges do you have with being on time?  Do you use any strategies other than the ones listed here?