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Class of 2022: Be Open to Changing Your Mind

A first-person story from Garrett Williams, who after graduation will be headed to the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine’s rotating internship program

A follow-up to “Class of 2022: Striving for More

A lot changes between the moment you receive your acceptance letter into veterinary school and when you enter the last few weeks of your clinical rotations. 

I remember being interviewed for an online feature about incoming students in 2018, being asked about my past, what led me to apply to veterinary school, what my goals were going into the program and beyond. When I look back to my original interview for “Striving for More,” I can have a good laugh and reflect on just how much has changed since then. 

When I started vet school, I knew I was going to be a surgeon. I knew that I wanted to do all the soft-tissue surgery procedures and to be able to deal with critical patients. Little did I know that, in order to be a surgeon, you have to be pretty good at tying a knot and working with your hands, and I was a natural at neither! That initial dream ended shortly after the first year. It took a hard introspective look to recognize that surgery wasn’t everything I originally thought it was and perhaps wasn’t really what I wanted to do. 

By the time second year came, I knew that I wanted to go into general practice so I could do a little bit of everything. I wanted to see the puppies through life until they were old and to foster those long-term client relationships. I wanted to go out and just be a doctor after graduation. I adamantly rejected the thought of doing an internship after graduation and was passionate about going into general practice. That, too, changed. 

It wasn’t until my third year in veterinary school when I was exposed to our medicine-based curriculum that I realized that what I really wanted to do was to further my training beyond the scope of our four-year DVM degree program. I fell in love with internal medicine and recognized that that particular field would give me everything I loved about veterinary medicine and could be something I could spend the rest of my life doing. I loved endocrinology, medical management, pharmacology, chronic disease, critical thinking, patient care and client communication, and internal medicine provided the opportunity to see and do all the things I wanted and more. 

I was able to cement those feelings during my clinical rotations and had an absolute blast during the internal medicine rotation. I also fostered some great relationships with our internal medicine clinicians. On the first day of the block, they asked what I wanted to get out of it, and I replied, “I’m interested in pursuing internal medicine, so this block may make it or break it for me.” I soon realized how much I love medicine and everything that goes into it. 

I have now been accepted into the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine’s rotating internship program for the 2022-2023 cycle, and I intend to pursue an internal medicine residency afterward. I can’t say thank you enough to all the clinicians who provided me endless advice, mentorship and laughs and advocated for me to make this next opportunity a reality. 

The beauty of veterinary medicine is the endless possibilities you can pursue with your degree and the opportunity to change your mind. I hope that aspiring veterinarians keep an open mind and recognize that it is completely OK to change course multiple times. I wanted to be a surgeon and then a general practitioner before I recognized my true passion. 

As my vet school adviser Dr. Lysa Posner always says, “The world is your oyster,” and I truly believe that. 

  • – Garrett Williams