What is the 4th year?

The year-long grand finale to an 8-year adventure that begins after high school.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, prospective students apply to veterinary school. Those who are accepted into the doctorate program then continue on for four more years of veterinary school, graduating to become Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.

3/4 Doctor

The first three years of the veterinary school that I attended were largely lecture-based and laboratory-oriented. These first couple years are dedicated to creating a foundation of anatomical, physiological and pathological knowledge. This foundation is further expanded during the second and third year, when the courseload becomes much more…varied. Classes included virology, parasitology, pharmacology, anesthesia, radiology, pidemiology…just to name a few.

the ingredients to make a 4th year

The material of the first three years of veterinary school is complimented by extracurricular experiences (externships, preceptorships) during the summers. Although, you technically have summer vacation and can do with it what you like.

Fourth year is largely about lessons, not lectures. It’s the time to learn how to integrate knowledge with communication, critical-thinking with problem-solving, solutions with constraints, emotions with professionalism…. Several of my classmates and I came up with the following:

The ingredients of fourth year

1 part confidence
2 parts client communication
3 parts teamwork
6 parts stress and anxiety
0.25 parts laughter
2 parts NAVLE
1 part per licensing exam
1 part senior projects
Ratio of challenging to rewarding 1:1
All parts crazy
Parts needed or missing: sleep

During this last year, veterinary students spend short intervals of time on a variety of clinical rotations such as soft tissue surgery, neurology, internal medicine, theriogenology… Just to name a few.

While accredited, not all veterinary schools in the United states are structured identically. Depending on whether species focus, or tracking, is permitted, students may elect to take the rotations they feel will best serve their career goals.


This blog features stories, experiences, lessons and pondering as I progress through my fourth year of veterinary school.