Veterinary medicine is a staple to a vibrant community. For example, when I was growing up my family relied on our vet for the care of our animals. When I use the word “relied,” I sincerely mean it. His word was gold — we entrusted the lives of family members with him and his staff. It’s these types of relationships that build a community around a vet clinic; at the same time, emotions can sometimes make it difficult to maintain the objectivity needed to transition between cases and patients. I’ve heard the buzz about staying in tune with our own emotions in recent years, and I think it’s critical to highlight the need for self-care in the vet community.
In a clinical setting, your veterinarian may be a general practitioner, pediatrician, toxicologist, mortician, gynecologist, parasitologist, and a whole slew of other seemingly elegant doctor terms (depending on your interpretation of elegance!) all in the span of a few hours. With so many duties, it’s essential for vets to be able to move from one situation to the next with the appropriate attitude and compassion. This is easier said than done, because most vets have a bond with the patients and owners.
I’ve highlighted the stresses, so what’s the solution? In my opinion, I believe it’s all about how you start your day. For me, waking up in the morning and giving myself time to consider the day ahead is critical. I think about what I want to accomplish, how I will accomplish it, and what kind of person I will be as I work toward my goals. This is my time to consider my weaknesses objectively. Call it meditation, if you will. This helps me feel like I have a handle on my endeavors and allows me to avoid bringing my anxieties to work. It also makes me aware of how I am impacting others and how my actions are perceived. It’s easy to become distracted in our modern world, but I think a bit of self-reflection will contribute to better medicine, stronger human-animal bonds, and healthier communities.