A First Year’s Guide to UCD SVM: Orientation

Rumor has it that Dr. Don Klingborg is no longer leading Orientation for incoming first year vet students. Pretty sad if it’s true as he was a lot of fun. (Catch a spoof that the Class of 2013 made called The Campus to roast Dr. Klingborg and Orientation at the Turkey Roast in 2009 on YouTube.) If that rumor is, in fact, true, I am not really sure whether Orientation will be at all similar to what it was for the Class of 2013.

What to Expect for Orientation:

  • Too Many Names. You will be attempting to learn over 130 new names. Fortunately, the school provides and requires that you wear shirts that have your names on them. It’s great with two exceptions: 1) wearing the same shirt every day can be smelly if you don’t wash it and 2) you come to rely to heavily on those shirts to the point that on the first day of class when everyone is dressed in their normal street clothes, your mind goes blank and you can’t remember the names of the people you’ve spent the past week bonding with. Don’t worry, everyone’s experiencing the same thing. Just reintroduce yourselves!
  • Team-Building Exercises. You’re a group of 130+ students. Most of you are used to working alone as you’re likely all the top of your class and working alone is how you thrived. Well, news flash, vet school is different world, a world in which team work is essential for the survival of the group. That’s not to say you can’t survive if you stick to yourself. It’s just not going to be as easy or fun. Remember, you’re all the best of the best — you should want to work with one another!
  • Conflict. Face it. Most of you are Type A personalities. Many of you think you can solve problems on your own in your own way. During orientation, however, you are going to have to work in a group to solve problems. This will cause some tension if you are perceptive enough to notice that people are speaking over one another and not listening. Which leads to my next point…
  • Communication. One of the main purposes of orientation is to promote effective and efficient communication among you and your classmates. Remember: communicating is talking and listening. You need to be able to hear your classmates ideas and consider them. Remember, you’re all the best of the best — your classmates probably have some fantastic ideas, perhaps even the same idea that you have, so remember the importance of listening!
  • A Little Embarrassment. Sure we’re all adults and we think we’re above childish games and activities, but face it, they work really well for orientation activities (as cheesy as they may be!). If you’re feeling embarrassed or annoyed about whatever activity you’re being asked to partake in, just remember: there are 135 other people doing the same thing. You’re no exception. You’re all in it together. It’s a rite of passage, so to speak. So swallow your pride, put a smile on your face, and laugh.
  • Computer Help. There will be a decent chunk of time that the Mac and PC users will be separated and educated on their computers and the UC Davis system during orientation. You will be told when to bring your computers, so other than that time, leave your computers at home. You’ll have plenty of time during the term to mess around on Facebook or check email. Orientation is about getting to know the people around you. So make the most of it and do exactly that!

Some Advice for Orientation:

  • Arrive on time. Don’t be late. It shows some degree of professionalism. Make sure you have some idea of where you’re going the first morning you arrive (not that it won’t be obvious where you have to be).
  • Plan to Eat Breakfast and Lunch On Campus. That does NOT mean bring food with you. If you really want to bring a snack or something to munch on, by all means feel free. However, I will warn you that not once during orientation did I feel a modicum of hunger. We were fed 3 squares per day during orientation, but I was informed that Class of 2014 will only receive breakfast and lunch. So that means plan to eat dinner at home or, better yet, go out and mingle with your new classmates!
  • Sunscreen. Don’t just bring it with you. Apply it before you arrive and keep reapplying it! You will be outside and it won’t likely be in the shade, so protect your skin appropriately and reduce your chances of burning and/or developing skin cancer.
  • Dress Appropriately. You will be moving quite regularly between inside and outside. Shorts/Pants and your Orientation Shirt will suffice. (You will receive your Orientation Shirt on the first day of Orientation). Be sure to bring a sweatshirt or jacket in case Valley Hall’s notorious fluctuations in temperature render you feeling as if you were stranded in the Sierras in the middle of winter. (Okay, okay, I embellished that a bit! But in all seriousness, bring an extra layer just in case.)

CVMA Lunch

  • Dress nicely. Business casual: nice pants and nice shirts are best; dresses or skirts are also appropriate for ladies. Try to keep it professional by not wearing items that are too short, low cut, or sheer. Also, wear shoes that you aren’t afraid of tripping/falling in.
  • Network. Remember this is essentially a networking event. You will be sitting at a table with various veterinarians who are members in the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and expected to socialize and network over a decently fancy meal.
  • Professionalism. Remember to use proper etiquette — good manners, appropriate vocabulary, etc. — as best you can!

White Coat Ceremony

  • Bring your family if they’re around. Although it’s not as formal as, say, graduation, getting coated is still a special occasion as it represents your entry into the veterinary medical profession. If you have family in the area, a significant other, or a close friend, feel free to bring them along. I believe the school recommends no more than 3 guests, but check ahead of time to be sure!
  • Dress nicely. Business casual: nice pants and nice shirts are best; dresses or skirts are also appropriate for ladies. Try to keep it professional by not wearing items that are too short, low cut, or sheer. Also, wear shoes that you aren’t afraid of tripping/falling in.
  • Remember, it’s outside. That means: sunscreen and dress appropriately. Sure it’s going to take place in the evening when it’s a bit cooler, but it will still be decently warm and you don’t want sweat marks running down your nicely buttoned shirt before you get coated.
  • Open House. Usually after the White Coat Ceremony, there is an “open house” in which Valley Hall, MPT, and Vet Med 3A will be open for you to show off to your guests. Granted you will likely be just as unfamiliar as they will be to your new academic environment, but it will still be fun to explore together.
  • Go out to dinner and celebrate! If you had family in town, go out and celebrate with them — you’re about to embark on your journey through vet school. No family around? You won’t be the only one! Find some classmates in a similar situation and go out for dinner to celebrate!

Ropes Course

  • Two words: SIGN UP! Hosted by Challenge Sonoma. I don’t care if you claim to be afraid of heights (I AM!) — sign up! It’s not mandatory and it might require a small additional fee, but it is worth every penny! You don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with and it’s a completely wonderful bonding experience for you and your classmates. You will push each other and support each other so wonderfully with your newly acquired skills from Orientation and it will be a life-changing experience.