Post-veterinary school, my sleep is permanently screwed

VettedVetted October 2019
Volume 114
Issue 10

Veterinarians and veterinary students on Facebook told us long hours were a given to get into the profession. But are they good for practitioners, patients and the learning process?

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When we posted news on a recent study on the long hours that veterinary students put in during school, Facebook users chimed in to say, “Yup, been there, done that.”

“It's a big issue, I think. I was exhausted, and looking back I think I came out of vet school burnt out. There was never enough time to study. But then the reality is, when you get out of vet school and get a job, you're often expected to work 24 hours or more in a row. One weekend I worked 68 out of 72 hours.” - Liana Mawer, DVM

“I was super sleepy-and still am 12 years later. In vet school I used to stay at school until sometimes 8 or 9 at night, study until 1 a.m. then set my alarm for 4, study for a bit then go back to school. I can't believe I did it. Then 10 years of ‘on call.' Needless to say, my sleep is now permanently screwed.” - Heather James, DVM

“The pinnacle for me was my surgery rotation. There were supposed to be eight students, but there was an outbreak of MRSA on the surgery ward, so four dropped it last minute. So we had the case load for eight with [only] four students. I was there every day until 11 p.m. and had to be back the next morning for 5 a.m. to have all my patients written up before rounds. Let's just say that is not the ideal way to learn. Definitely nearly passed out holding a leg for the surgeon. I lost 10 pounds in two weeks.” - Teresa Bousquet, DVM

"I survived clinics despite the lack of sleep."

“Just because it's the way it's always been doesn't mean it has to be that way forever. I'm sure someone will reply with something along the lines of ‘Spoiled millennials' and ‘We had to put in our time, so should you.' But if that's true, and you suffered, why not let that motivate you to affect change? IDK. I survived clinics despite the lack of sleep. I know there's sleepless nights ahead. But if students after me can have it easier? Great. I want that for them.” - Lucy Rose, DVM

“I spend at least 12 to 14 hours on campus each day, including weekends. I definitely feel like addressing the wellness problem in the health profession in general means taking a closer look at where it all begins. You're trained to push yourself harder than you ever have before until it's this vicious cycle, where you get out into the world and accept it as life. It helps no one when the person standing between you and the grave hasn't slept in 24 hours.” - Kae Luh

Have something to say about whether long hours in veterinary school are a learning tool for the future or whether exhaustion is a barrier to learning? Email us your thoughts at or comment below.

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