Today I performed my first canine neuter surgery. It was terrifying, amazing and exhilarating, much like every new thing I do in vet school. After so many years of work, volunteering, shadowing and studying, the moment arrived where I was the surgeon. It was an emotional realization. Today, I lived the dream and experienced the true hands-on role that I have spent my whole life working towards.
I ran through the procedure in my head, over and over, knowing exactly what each next step was from my pre-surgery physical exam, to pre-medication prior to anesthesia, induction, gowning and gloving, and ultimately the surgical procedure itself. Just as athletes visualize their plays in sports, I was planning each step of the way through the surgery. Yet, no matter how many times I played each action over and over in my head, nothing could prepare me for the feeling of actually performing each step.
As much as I had prepared, I couldn’t shake the feeling of uncertainty and apprehension. I knew I had done everything I could to be successful, but I still felt like I needed someone holding my hand throughout the process. And although I desperately thought that I needed continuous guidance, I was encouraged to be independent and really only offered guidance when I asked.
In this way, I was allowed to make the decisions I wanted to make, which is exactly what I will need to do as a doctor. I have been equipped with the skills for success, and although I often don’t feel prepared or confident in my own knowledge, today proved to me I am more powerful than I allow myself to believe. Often, I am the one holding myself back and imposing limits on what I think I am capable of achieving. In doing this, the only thing I successfully do is ground myself. I thought I had needed training wheels, but instead I was given wings and allowed to fly.