DVM - Advice on Fourth Year & Clinical Rotations

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


University of Sydney DVM Class of 2022
Nov 5, 2021
Reaction score
Hi there,

My name is Lane and I've recently joined SDN after seeing how inclusive and resourceful this community can be. For the sake of brevity, I'm simply starting this thread in hopes of getting input from DVM4s/graduates on what advice you might give to soon-to-be fourth year students. This may be in the form of something that you did and found helpful during your rotations or something you wish you'd known before starting your clinical rotations. I'm particularly interested to hear input/ideas regarding a clinical year notebook/record log as I've met several graduates who felt it was really helpful and still use their notebooks in practice.

Most can appreciate that DVM degrees/programs can vary widely depending on where you are, however any genuine input you can offer is welcome and will be meaningful nonetheless. Apologies ahead of time if I've missed a posted thread similar to this one. I'm happy to provide clarification if needed and send you all many thanks in advance.


P.S. A brief personal anecdote for those interested:
I'm currently finishing up my 3rd year of the DVM program at The University of Sydney (send good vibes for finals) and anticipate finishing the DVM in Dec 2022. I'm a Houston native and plan to return home at the latter end of next year to complete my last few hospital rotations. I have a strong interest in aquatics, exotics, and zoo medicine, but find almost all aspects/niches of vet med to be quite fascinating. My immediate goals after graduation are to pursue an intership with VIRMP, and/or otherwise find a supportive hospital for this baby vet to cut his teeth in real world practice. Since applying to vet school the time surely has flown by, albeit I cannot wait to put all this acquired knowledge into practice during next year's rotations.

Members don't see this ad.
To answer one of your questions directly - I did find a clinic notebook helpful. Initially I kept my patient info and rounds notes in the same one, but later on when I started running out of space I switched to putting patient info in one of those really small pocket memo books. I still use those even now when I have a busy clinic shift and need to keep track of where I'm at with each patient. And I still keep a slightly larger notebook for my quick reference diagnostic and treatment guides!

I've been trying for like an hour to find the screenshots I had of some advice that a vet who graduated the year before me posted on Facebook a while back, but with no luck and can't find her profile anymore either! But the gist of it was, be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, show up and care about your patients, learn as much as you can, find those moments that are just so cool that they sustain you through the mountains of paperwork. Try not to forget, when you've had one of those stupid long days where nothing seemed to go right, that this is a dream you share with so many people, and you've almost made it reality. Lean on your classmates for help and be there for them too, you're in the trenches together. But seriously, take care of yourself, as best as you can.
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users
The advice WZ gave is great.

The basic advice I’d give is to have a positive attitude, be punctual for everything and make time for yourself every day. Absorb the process for every case (details change but the overall path to work up is going to be pretty steady), care about your patients and their families but don’t take them home mentally.

In regards to your personal goals, it’s a competitive path to take; don’t let that turn you into a selfish, competitive rotation-mate. Your peers, especially those on your rotation, can make or break you and your clinical year experience and it is NOT worth turning into that person.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Members don't see this ad :)
Teamwork makes the dream work. If everyone does their fair share and helps each other, it makes life so much better.

I kept a clinic notebook, but mine was a full sized college rule notebook. I couldn't make those little ones work cause I kept all my info in that book.

Ask a 4th year friend go through the clinic software with you to show you tips and tricks.

Learn your boundaries now. Don't feel obligated to go do things after a long shift. Likewise, be patient with those around you who are dragging and need some space to decompress.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
If you come across a really good discharge, or are told you wrote a really good discharge, SAVE THAT. FOREVER. One of my classmates had been compiling all of her discharges/disease blurbs/etc into a massive Google document. I regret not doing that. I have since started to do it. Having things to copy/paste through 4th year and beyond will save you a lot of time.

In regards to your personal goals, it’s a competitive path to take; don’t let that turn you into a selfish, competitive rotation-mate. Your peers, especially those on your rotation, can make or break you and your clinical year experience and it is NOT worth turning into that person.

As a fellow someone trying to pursue zoo/aquatics, this is so important! I am not sure if you will be on specific exotics/zoo/aquatic rotations with your classmates, but don't be the one that throws elbows to get to the front. I feel my fellow zoo-oriented classmates were a great bunch and we all actually did a pretty great job working together, supporting one another, etc. Those people were invited to my wedding, even, and are my closest vet med friends. Don't be afraid to be good at what you want to do, but don't crush others in the process of getting what you want.
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users