The price of graduation…

chris-allen-graduation-doctor-veterinary-medicine-2017-uvm-kosice

Today I became Dr Chris, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Yet the only difference between yesterday and tomorrow is a piece of paper…

I am not sure what the price is for this piece of paper. It’s cost me a lot yet the euros that were spent feel so insignificant today. I moved to a new country to get it. I paid with 5 years of my life. Weeks where I was so tired that I didn’t even know what day it was. Nights where instead of my bed I was in cold stables, or stood at an operating table. Days where I didn’t have time to eat. Christmases spent in surgery. Nights spent reading books. Hours on planes to conferences and practice.

Patients that have made me so happy, patients that have made me bleed, and patients that have made me cry. Patients that have died. Patients that have survived. And the patients that have surprised.

The days where I doubted myself. Where I wondered if I deserved to be here with other such smart people. Where I wondered if I was even good enough to be here at all. Days where I felt overloaded with impossible amounts of information. Days where I just wanted to give up and sleep.

The state exam days where I felt I knew nothing and had to force myself to go and be judged. Not by what I could do… but by what I could remember… usually with no sleep… my brain below average performance… Knowing I could be asked anything…

The mental and physical scars that the journey to get this piece of paper has inflicted are still fresh… yet today I walk away having survived, having overcome, and having become a doctor.

This piece of paper is priceless. It gives me permission to keep on learning…

latin-diploma-certificate-doctor-veterinary-medicine

The real osmosis education

Audience learning at vet festival

Many times I wish that I could just put a book under my pillow and it will be absorbed overnight as I sleep… I’ve tried (both under and on top) and unfortunately have never got this to work.

What I have found though is that there are some people that you can simply just be in the same room as and you will start absorbing knowledge and learning. These people just have something special – I have no clue whether it is the passion for teaching or something else however they just turn up and you start learning.

I’ve become better at recognising these people. They are the ones that I will look for when I go places to see practice or to conference. This weekend at the Vet Festival has been the same, sometimes I’ve not even bothered looking at the topic once I have seen the speakers name. It doesn’t matter what they are teaching, I will learn something useful because of the way they teach it.

This is something I think Noel has excelled at with the VET Festival as its not just about sitting in tents for a weekend, it is about how on Monday when you are back treating patients the care you can give has improved. Whether it is simply by using drugs in a different way, or just being confident enough to treat based on the clinical presentation instead of the diagnostic tests. It is understanding how to tell the difference between a problem in the eye and a problem in the brain. Or knowing where else to look when you get a tumour in a certain place.

The speakers at VET Festival all had this quality. When Clare overran and told people to leave if they had to not a single person moved. It is this that makes VET Festival truly special…

What No One Tells You About Being A Vet

Puppy vet exam

Being a veterinarian is among the most popular and idealised career choices there are. Almost everyone loves animals, and many people see helping them as one of, if not the most, worthwhile ways to spend your working life. While it’s certainly a noble vocation, there are a lot of things about being a vet that you generally don’t hear about. Here are just a handful…

People Make Up Just as Much of the Job as Animals

Vet ophthalmology exam
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/7096472197

Obviously as a vet, the purpose of your job and a lot of your time is going to be centred around animals. However, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of humans in this role as well. It’s the pet owners who ultimately have to choose between different courses of treatment depending on their budget, and the limit of what you can actually do. After that, there’s a lot of staff you’ll have to deal with on a regular basis, such as the receptionists, technicians, and the odd specialists from other clinics. By the time you’re learning how to start your own vet clinic, you’ll have to have as many people skills as any other kind of business owner. You may be a great scientist when it comes to the application of everything you learned at vet school, but if you want to make a career out of it, you need to be a people person at times.

Some Animals Will Be Hard to Handle

Vet behaviour MedicineYour average vet will work on cats on a daily basis, and maybe the odd dog, that’s very aggressive and does not like to be handled. Little dogs and cats aren’t exactly as intimidating as the exotic pets some people will own, as they’re fairly easy to control and sedate if necessary. Here and there though, you’ll have to handle an 100-pound dog who isn’t used to your scent, and may hate everything about the strange environment it’s found itself in. You’re going to have a tough job handling some pets, but it’s important to understand that by and large, these pets are acting out due to fear, rather than any kind of inherent aggression or behavioural issues. Vets need to be able to understand the animal’s perspective, and go out of their way to soothe their nerves.

Even if Your Hours Are Fine, It’s Exhausting!

Vets finish late nearly everydayThe vets out there who clock in at 9 in the morning and leave at 5 in the evening are a lucky minority. However, even the veterinarians with these kinds of hours have a very emotionally draining day to get through. More or less from the start of their day, you’re going to be seeing appointments, some of which might entail giving pet owners some very bad news. When you’re not in appointments, you’ll likely be fielding phone call after phone call, or chewing through a mountain of paperwork. It’s important to remember that each and every one of these pet owners will love their pet, and have different concerns, and you’ll need to stay engaged through every appointment.