The past year (holy cow!) has brought many success stories, but it has also brought many stressors. Vet med isn’t for the faint of heart. There are days where you are scurrying from exam room to exam room, grabbing a sip of water and a handful of chips on your way. There are days where you have to put down someone’s best friend of 15 years. There are days where no matter how hard you try, you can’t save a sick patient. Because of this, it’s very important to have coping mechanisms and a few things in your toolkit.
- A good mentor. I cannot stress this enough. I had far too many classmates get out into clinical practice where they were promised mentorship, only to be talked down to and walked all over. Where they were thrown to the wolves as a solo vet doing surgeries and seeing appointments with no back-up whatsoever. I was extremely fortunate to get into a practice with a wonderful mentor. He has allowed me to practice medicine the way I want to while being there to give advice on a case or come into a surgery to help with a tough mass removal. He has taught me how to do procedures from cystotomies to eyelid surgeries, he has taught me about practical medicine, and he has most importantly taught me how to be a good vet to my clients and patients. I am eternally grateful for the support I have received in my first year out. Find yourself a mentor like mine!
- Good co-workers. Sensing a theme here? It’s all about the place that you work, is it a good fit for you? Find a clinic with adequate support staff who treat each other well and work together in harmony. I know when I first started, I leaned on nurses a lot to keep me on track for appointments, to fill me in on histories, and to help with hospital protocols. My nurses are awesome at their job and I’m so thankful for them.
- A support system. When you’ve had a bad day at work, you need to have someone to talk to. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful husband who forces me to talk about my feelings rather than come home and sulk and is there to buy me a pizza or make me a martini when I’ve had a rough day. My parents live just up the road from the clinic, and there have been numerous times where I’ve dragged my sad butt through their door to just cry and get a hug. My best friend from vet school and I text cases back and forth looking for input, and call and have vent sessions when we’re having a bad week. You need to find people who understand what your job entails, and who are there to lend a shoulder, or a pizza when you need it.
- You’ve probably caught on to the trend that your toolkit isn’t much of a physical toolkit, but here are a feel actual “tools.” There are dozens of CE resources, textbooks, and memberships that I could recommend, but find something that fits your learning style and stick with it. Keep snacks on hand for busy days. Get a good pair of shoes, and wear comfortable clothes that fit well (don’t want to have your pants split in front of a client eh?).
Now take this advice, and go forth on to the world. You’re going to do great, I just know it!