1. Make physical fitness a habit
As the Roman poet Juvenal put it, “Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.” He was by no means a modern-day health professional, but his words are timeless and epitomize the link between physical exercise and mental well-being. As veterinary professionals, we must have physical stamina, mental clarity, and emotional stability to get through the day successfully. Luckily enough, with just 2 hours of exercise a week, you’ll live out Juvenal’s words and be a more pleasant doctor to work with. Whether it’s rock climbing, running, weight lifting, swimming, a sport, or a long walk with your dog in a hilly neighborhood – it helps you, your clients, and your workplace.
2. Eat healthy (even the snacks)
“Feed your Tregs” is a phrase from immunology class in veterinary school I’ve never forgotten because of its profound message: with some fiber you can help your Tregs (regulatory T cells) maintain homeostasis, self-tolerance, and adequate immune response. It’s that easy and on top of that there so much research supporting the effects of a healthy diet on a balanced gut microbiome which, in turn, supports emotional and physical well-being. For you, your Tregs, the millions of bacteria inside you, and everyone around you – eat your vegetables.
3. Exercise your “green thumb”
There’s nothing better than waking up early in the morning before the destined-to-be hectic day, a cup of coffee in hand, sitting next to your plants on the porch. Planting them and enjoying their presence teaches you a unique care and appreciation which can be extended to your colleagues, patients, and clients. On top of that, there’s even research supporting the relationship between happiness and interacting with plants (and nature). Plus, depending on what you plant, you can save on groceries every month.
4. Read books
Not your first-year guide to dog and cat anatomy or veterinary journal articles. Read classic novels, poetry, autobiographies, and fiction – anything that makes you think deeply about things other than veterinary medicine. When you can talk to your clients, peers, and mentors about an inspirational quote, someone’s interesting life story or a wildly creative fictional adventure you’ll make stronger connections – and with this, a more positive experience for everyone involved, even fluffy.
5. Stay up-to-date and available
Definitely read veterinary journals. Mentors and clients are always so impressed when you can recall new findings and current ongoing research. This makes appointments, rounds, case discussions, work-ups, diagnosis, and treatment much easier and fun. But staying current on the news, world events, politics, and everything happening with family and friends is just as important. When you can talk about these things you’ll sound a lot more like the genuine human being you really are, not the veterinary medicine robot we’ve all trained ourselves to be.
Michael Lacqua says
Staying up to date is key. Pet owners will walk into your ED or clinic with a stack of papers downloaded from a Google search about their pets condition and have lots of questions about standard care, possible experimental treatments and the “latest thing” to help their pet. You gotta be ready.