First, no war stories. We will save that for 4th year!
Remember the day that you “got the news”? You were WCVM bound. It was first your dream, then your ambition and now is your reality. Hold onto that feeling because you will need it going forward. Elation and excitement may now have given way to “what have I gotten myself into!”
I am living proof that it will get better. That you will survive. That there will be days when sheer pigheadedness and determination will be all that gets you through to tomorrow. And then there will be those days when you say, “Yes, I have got this!”
Suddenly things start making sense, the concepts are easier to understand, and you remember them! This is where you belong. You were born to be veterinarians.
Some will believe that veterinary medicine is “for them” because they like animals more than they like people. I completely understand that. But remember, that each patient comes with a human attached. Our patient may be that person’s friend, companion or livelihood. Each situation comes with different circumstances and priorities. The owners look to veterinarians, one of the most trusted professionals, for guidance. You will be expected to make the tough decisions and to deliver the bad news. Telling them what they need to hear and not necessarily what they want to hear. All while remaining empathetic, compassionate and strong.
When the day comes that you receive a thankyou card after the client suffers the loss, you will know that you have achieved this balance. Be humbled by their gratitude and never take it for granted. Clients appreciate knowing that you tried. You may fail but always bring your “A” game.
What defines you as a person and a veterinarian will be a “work in progress”. Experiences will change you as they should. There will be decisions that you will compromise on and those that you will not. You will need to know where that line is. If you say that a situation is hopeless and offer no possible recommendations then you will be right, 100% of the time. What takes guts is to try. Be willing to put yourself out there. You may fail but at least you tried. There is a first time for everything. That first group of preg testing 500 cows and you wonder if you will get it done, the first solo C-section (pick a species!),
the first fracture, diaphragmatic hernia or abortion storm in 700 ewes. Your education at WCVM will give you the life jacket to stay afloat. So, jump in and get wet! Take a chance, trust yourself and your education. Do not be paralyzed by the fear that “I have never done this before” or that “we did not do this in school”. Your education cannot prepare you for every possible clinical presentation, but it can teach you to think. As my generation says, “MacGyver it!”
As a new grad, every case, every surgery will be a new experience. After 37 years in practice I still I have “new experiences”! If you do not see the differences between cases, then you are not looking hard enough. Nothing in medicine is ever completely the same twice. Every day you will be presented with and successfully manage “cases that you have never seen before”. In the beginning there is so much that is new, it can be overwhelming.
You will make mistakes- I have.
You will doubt your abilities-I do
There will be days that you want to quit- I have.
And then there will be those days when you cannot imagine a life outside of veterinary medicine- I live there.
What matters most is that you keep moving forward, evolving and maturing. The more we learn, the less we are certain of. Nobody has all the answers, all of the time. Remember the fundamental principals and the “magic of medicine” will take care of itself. You are now a member of the perfect profession.
Pick a species.
Pick a discipline.
Change your focus for professional evolution without ever changing your profession.
The opportunities for professional development are never ending.
Do as much or as little as you like.
But do what you love, love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.
It is time to grab ahold. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and become the veterinarians that you were meant to become. I believe in each one of you and I have not even met most of you! All that is left is for you to believe in yourself and you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Welcome to the team!