I feel like everyone is posting retrospectives. I don’t usually hop on the bandwagon, but I think there are a few things worthy of reflection in the domain of veterinary academia in the time of the pandemic. Here are my observations, some of them unique and some of them well-documented.
- I write when I travel. I realized that my blog’s ready-to-post file got smaller and smaller and wasn’t being replenished as quickly as usual. This is because, apparently, I do most of my blog writing when I travel. With no travel, I had to force myself to write Sunday mornings to keep up with the blog. I hope the quality of the posts has maintained in spite of not having the ‘protected’ writing space while I wait in airports.
- Veterinary medicine is booming. Maybe it’s because people were sitting at home staring at their animals and thinking, “Have you always done that? Is that normal?” Maybe it’s because pets have become even more of a social support as we have stayed at home. Every vet office I know of is flooded with work, and graduates are getting snatched up for jobs. Specialists have always been in demand, but that’s even more true than usual. It’s a good time to be finishing a program. Is it a good time to be starting? Impossible to know what the future holds.
- Applicants have increased. The number of applicants to vet school increased notably this year, and of course that increases the competitive pressure because the number of seats hasn’t necessarily increased. However, there are more schools that have come onboard in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, most of them are expensive private schools. Your best bet is still to wait to get into an inexpensive school if you are looking at attending vet school.
- The more things change… Although we are all doing online learning and have gotten more competent at the necessary technology, I doubt it will lead to truly lasting change in veterinary medicine. Do we really need to maintain 38 schools of veterinary medicine in the US and Canada? Why do we need all this physical space if students can just be at home and a professor could teach a thousand- or ten thousand- students simultaneously? There are some real opportunities here, but I don’t see them developing. The institutions are too entrenched in their existing models to make that kind of sea change.
- The stress is real. Even though veterinary business is good, people are getting jobs, students are getting educated… everything’s still stressful. I get freaked out when I do my once-a-week shopping trip and someone isn’t wearing a mask in Kroger. I miss seeing my friends and traveling. I am, ultimately, very happy and have an awesome life. But just because you’re happy doesn’t mean there’s not a goddamn pandemic going on which is making everything harder.
What have you learned about yourself due to the pandemic?