Within my first week of clinical practice, I was introduced to a junior in college who was the first shadow of my career. He wanted to follow me around and gain experience in order to apply to veterinary school. Talk about a weird feeling. I still feel like a student myself and am figuring out the ropes, and here is a starry-eyed student hanging on my every word. He asked questions, wanted to learn, and was so excited. It reminded me of myself so many years ago.
He helped hold a patient on the x-ray table for 45 minutes without a complaint while I put together estimates and talked to an owner about the treatment their dog needed after being hit by a car. I apologized a million times over remembering how I had been left in similar positions in the past with a patient and felt forgotten, but he smiled, just like I always had, and said no worries. In that moment I realized what the veterinarians I had shadowed had been doing while I held animals. They were making decisions, providing estimates, talking to clients, etc. In those moments, a shadow student is priceless.
At the end of the day, he came to me and asked if there was anything else he could do to help me out. I thanked him profusely and said I was just fine. Then he asked if he would be allowed to come back, just like I always had. I smiled and said he was welcome any day. He seemed relieved. It made me smile because I remember the same relief washing over me when veterinarians had told me I could return. I feel like I have come full circle.