Posted August 21, 2020

Dr. Lee Anne Kroll, alumna of the College's DVM Program and current instructor in the Veterinary Nursing Program, encourages students during uncertain times.

Lee Anne Kroll

By Dr. Lee Anne Kroll, DVM, MS; MSU CVM Class of 2013; Instructor; MSU Veterinary Nursing Program

To the Veterinary Classes,

Wow, these past six months have sure changed a lot for you all. It's crazy to think that as you received some of the best news of your life (admission to vet school! Woot!), you were also entering into a moment in history, a pandemic of a lifetime, that cannot be erased. Now as you start your journey toward becoming a DVM, things just aren't as you pictured. Maybe you are in clinics right now, wishing things to be different—back to normal. Or perhaps you are wishing you could sit in G-150 and soak in the moments of random conversations with classmates and kicking the chair next to you to keep your friend awake through Dr. Maes's lectures.

That experience that once was, is now changed, for an unknown period of time. And yet, you are asked to roll with the punches and stay on track in a hard program. What you are going through is completely unfair to you. This is not what you signed up for—to attend medical training in a pandemic. Yet, that's where you've found yourself. I can't imagine how that must feel.

It wasn't that long ago that I was in your shoes, and I'm guessing you feel mad, sad, angry, and resentful toward your current situation. I imagine the grief of losing out on experiences, memory-making, and walking the halls of the CVM, soaking all of the experience in. Now, that's all changed. We truly wish things were different for you. We, too, wish this would all just go away.

And yet, we find ourselves tasked with a duty to keep your education rolling, so that your dream can stay alive. I challenge you to remember your reason for why you chose to attend veterinary school in the first place, and keep that front and center as you move through these next months to come. Let that be your driver through the hard days and weeks.

From the position of an instructor, I want you to know that we see you. We see that you wanted this to be different. And yet, we are given this task of educating you amidst a pandemic that requires us to stay away from each other to stay safe. We wish we could be in the classroom with you, too. Nothing is more rewarding than watching you learn, seeing your "aha" moments, and building a community with you. Our collective challenge is how to manage these two competing priorities—a world-class veterinary education and safety for all—all students, all staff, all faculty, all of the community.

Know this: We've risen to the challenge and have armed ourselves with the best online instructional tools known to MSU. For us, summer 2020 was packed with online learning that put us in the learner's seat so that we could put together an online learning experience that delivers on both of those priorities. Please know that the CVM has put in extra hours, learned new technologies, and prioritized that we maintain the high quality teaching to deliver to you, the student, what it is you came here for.

Our collective challenge is how to manage these two competing priorities—a world-class veterinary education and safety for all—all students, all staff, all faculty, all of the community.

We know it can't be the same as previous years. COVID has made sure of that. We hate that for you. No, it's not the same as last year, it can't possibly be. My advice to you is to build a community (safely) despite COVID. Make friends with your classmates, even if it has to be over Teams video calls, Zoom, or Google Hangout. Be creative. (But be safe!)

Veterinary medicine is no stranger to the challenge of needing to find creative solutions. What's more, is the veterinary community needs that from you. The industry is also struggling through a challenging time of telehealth, curbside medicine, and online continuing education. Rise to the current challenge and see how valuable these experiences you are currently facing will be to you moving forward. Spartans are a strong breed.

We are that 10-year-old stray mixed breed dog with a foreign body from weeks ago that pulls through a surgery in a way no doctor ever thought possible. We are that breached calving Holstein cow who strains all night, tears her uterine wall to deliver a live heifer calf, still manages to make it through another lactation, and breeds back. Oh yes, we Spartans are tough. And yet, we feel.

So make friends. Use your resources. Lean on your collective community of family, friends, classmates, and mental health professionals and do not be afraid to talk about those feelings. We must prioritize our health during these times, and all times. When I was a vet student, I needed the class counselor to navigate some very difficult times, as well. I grew, healed, and couldn't have done it on my own without her professional help, close friends, and supportive family.

So fellow Spartans, we are all here for you. We hope that through all of this, we grow as a team with a shared goal of protecting public and animal health. Let's be the scientists that we are and respect this virus by doing what we know works. Stay home to stay safe and mask for the task. Because Spartans Will!!