Here we are again. After surviving the endless sprint that was third year, I’m on to fourth year and to summer clinics. It seems like only yesterday I left gross anatomy behind and was ready to conquer second year.
At my school, we do summer school between third and fourth year and have 6 weeks of clinics. Currently, I’m wrapping up small animal medicine. Let me just say, it’s been a major learning curve. However, in the midst of constantly feeling like I had no idea what I was doing, I learned a few pearls of wisdom that may help someone along the way.
First, when you’re in clinics, remember *you are still a student*. While you should have a baseline knowledge to work with, you’re not expected to know everything and instinctively think of everything, so don’t get down for too long if you feel like you’re just bungling along the way. Admittedly, I had to make a steep adjustment when I started medicine rotation (and now, finally getting the hang of things, it’s time to switch). As much of a baseline book knowledge as I had going into it, I’ll admit I had a moment of panic and completely blanked out when it came time to see my first client. While I caught some heat for it from the clinician on the case, I appreciate (in hindsight of course) being forced to follow the process all the way through and that I needed to push my brain to think like a doctor. Definitely do your best, but have a realistic expectation for yourself.
Second, you are not a miracle worker! You will end up with critical patients, and you cannot…I repeat…cannot save them all. Or maybe they get to you in time and you can. Either way, all you can do is give your best with the tools you have to work with. This was a difficult pill to swallow for me, because by nature when you’re working a case from start to finish and give it your all, you become invested. That’s okay, too. For me, it really hit me hard that there were a few beyond our collective intervention. Certain factors will always be beyond control. Focus on why you’re becoming a vet in the first place — to provide the best care you can for the patient.
Third, never be afraid to ask questions and say what you think. Sometimes, it can be intimidating talking treatment strategies with clinicians because you feel like you’re so off base. You know more than you think, and half the time you’re probably right. Remember, the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!
Practice makes perfect, and I definitely believe the past several weeks have laid the framework for how I’ll function as a clinician. Hopefully one day I’ll be as amazing as the people I look up to!