I am staring at one of the many computer screens in the phone booth area of the small animal hospital, trying hard to finish writing discharge instructions for an owner. A classmate sitting to my left is calling an owner with an overnight update about his or her pet. An intern is on my right checking the medical records of a patient she will soon be seeing. Time is of the essence. Clients cannot be kept waiting, faculty members are overseeing scores of patients on their services, and in-hospital patients need to have their treatments filled in a timely fashion. All of a sudden, I feel something brush up against my scrub pants. Slobber soon takes over as a 6-month-old Labrador retriever in need of playtime chooses me as his target. Despite needing to crank out yet another discharge for a client, this interruption is just what the doctor ordered. I hop out of my seat and devote three minutes to lying on the floor and sacrificing my arm as the lab’s chew toy.
I can only speak for myself, but I imagine that we fourth-year students occasionally (well, more often than not) feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities we have in the hospital. Though those higher than us on the totem pole endure far more stress and have greater responsibility than we do, I feel as though my blood pressure automatically rises when I step foot into the hospital. Having a stranger’s dog invade my personal space and get me to stop staring at a screen is a welcome distraction…and probably one that has a positive impact on my mental and physical well-being.