Recently, I spent a day in the teaching hospital on an Oncology rotation. I kept trying to coach myself for what I thought would be a day full of sadness and depressing diagnoses. However, as I have come to learn…veterinary medicine is anything but expected.
The Oncology residents and faculty clinicians were some of the most welcoming people I have had the chance to work with at Davis. They were eager and willing to teach. I gained hands-on experience preparing, staining, and reading slides, measuring lymph node size, participating in client discussions, and performing fine needle aspirates of lymph nodes. Every person I interacted with was energetic and maintained a positive outlook for their clients and patients, even when faced with difficult discussions and discouraging prognoses.
Through my interactions with them, I quickly learned that oncology is not only about detecting, diagnosing, and treating cancer. It is about celebrating the little victories. One of the most effective ways I saw this manifest was by providing comfort. Comfort not only for the patient, but also for the client. And comfort can come in many forms. Whether it is an empathetic hug, or the ability to be completely open and straightforward about what a particular diagnosis looks like for an animal, it is crucial to effective care. It builds stronger bonds, better rapport, and develops trust. I was in awe of the communication abilities of the doctors and students. They inspire me to strive to reach that same level of clarity and openness with my future clients. It would be easy for some diagnoses to dampen your spirit and make you feel powerless. Yet, by embracing what you CAN do for a patient, you can remain positive — and positivity yields much needed strength for you and those you treat.