If you’re a veterinary student or a veterinarian, have you ever had a moment where you thought to yourself, “Why did I get myself into this profession?” Well, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. Many refer to this thought as “burnout.” It will happen to the majority of us at some point in our career, and it can happen either in veterinary school or thirty years into practice or both. But having thoughts like this does not have to lead to your demise. Here is a tip that can help, even save you, during times of burnout. This simple project is best done as early in veterinary school as possible, even before you start veterinary school, but can be done any time!
A common underlying cause of burnout is simply the fact that you’ve forgotten what drove you to become a vet in the first place. When we get deep into the trenches of school or work, it’s no surprise how easy this can be. But if there is a way we can remind ourselves of this spark, and reignite that spark, then perhaps we can help stop the burnout in its tracks. So here is what I propose:
Before you start veterinary school, or early in your first year of vet school, or any time in your career, choose a way for you to express why you are so excited about the veterinary profession. If you like making videos, record yourself giving a message to your future self. If you’re a writer, write your future self a letter. If neither of those fit with your style, you can even record a voice memo on your phone. The whole point of this is to provide a way for your future-self to get a pick-me-up when it’s most needed. And who better to remind your future self about why you wanted to be a veterinarian than…yourself? And don’t hold back, either. Talk about what you’re excited about, what your initial motivation was, and why you think being a vet is so awesome.
This little task will only take a few minutes and is a great thing to keep stored away for when times are rough. It may seem silly but take it from me (a fourth-year vet student). You’re going to need a pick-me-up from time to time. So help yourself preemptively.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. Why do/did you want to be a veterinarian?