For most students accepted into the veterinary program at Colorado State University, this is the dream of a lifetime come true. After years of hard work, studying, volunteering, stressing out over applications and waiting, students are rewarded with acceptance into one of the nation’s most rigorous four-year academic and experiential professional programs from which they will emerge as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
DVM Freshman Orientation week not only recognizes those accomplishments, but prepares students to step into the next four years with a new mindset. They are no longer competing for a spot in the DVM Class of 2014, but they are members of a team supporting each other as they embark on a journey that will challenge them mentally, emotionally, and physically.
“During Freshman Orientation, we want to not only celebrate what the students have accomplished so far, but we also want to give them a sense of how they can succeed together during their time in the veterinary program at Colorado State University,” said Dr. Pete Hellyer, Associate Dean for Professional Veterinary Medicine for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Our students will need to learn new skills to help them succeed, including when to recognize that they need help and how to ask for it. They also have to learn to rely on each other, how to work effectively in teams, and what it means to be in a professional school.”
The importance of “coopetition” is stressed repeatedly during orientation activities, as students who work with a team of supportive colleagues tend to be more successful and have a better life balance as compared to students who are tempted to go it alone.
“We really try to get out of students competing with each other,” said Dr. Hellyer. “Dr. Mike Cavanaugh (Executive Director of the American Animal Health Association) ---likes to ask the students, what do we call the person with the lowest class ranking on graduation day? Doctor.”
Orientation started on Monday, Aug. 16, with a day of welcomes, orientations, introductions, tips on financial management, and more. On Tuesday, the students headed up to Pingree Park for three days of professional skills development, teambuilding activities, and some downtime to get to know their fellow classmates. The highlight of the orientation week was on Friday, back on the main campus, when students and their guests participated in the Coating Ceremony, recognizing the DVM Class of 2014. At the ceremony, students recited the veterinary oath, received their blue coats, and celebrated with friends and family.
“It was a very emotional event for the students,” said Dr. Hellyer. “The Coating Ceremony welcomes them into the veterinary community and for so many of our students it really is something they have strived for almost their entire lives. To see the support of their family and friends, and to realize how important that support will continue to be, was truly touching.”