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

Starter Pets: Q&A

Hamster

It might sound like a strange concept, but starter pets can be a great way of introducing animal care into your home.

What Is A “Starter” Pet?

Not meant in any way to be derogatory, a starter pet should be considered the kind of pet that has all the benefits of pet ownership – but doesn’t take as much time, effort, or expense, to care for.

Everyone loves dogs and cats; a huge number of homes tend to have at least one of these animals. However, there’s no doubt that they take a lot of energy and a lot of money to care for. It’s also a huge time investment, with dogs – on average – living for at least 10 years, and cats potentially double that with the right care.

A starter pet is meant to be a way of learning about caring, how to schedule your time for doing so, and adapting your lifestyle to suit.

Which Animals Make Good Starter Pets?

It could be said that any animal that isn’t a cat or a dog makes for a good entry point into pet ownership. However, there are a couple that are often overlooked to consider –

Chickens

You don’t need a huge amount of space for a chicken; a medium size back garden will usually be sufficient, if you have room for a chicken house and a decent run. Not only are chickens fun fowl to care for, they can also be a source of eggs. If you buy a rooster, you could even end up with fertile eggs, which you can nurture with the help of incubators like those found on TheChickenHub.com. This is incredibly rewarding, as you’re there from the moment they break through the shell and look into the world for the first time!

Rodents

Hamsters and rats are the classic pets for kids. These mischievous little creatures can be a lot of fun and the costs of sustaining them are fairly cheap. You’ll need a good size cage and a good food source, as well as a few toys – YourPetHamster.com has some great ideas for engaging little hamster brains.

Do They Really Prepare You For Larger Pet Ownership?

Oh yes. To begin with, you get into the habit of considering another creature. You establish feeding routines, caring for them, and ensuring they are comfortable. If you’ve never had a pet before (or it’s been awhile), then these are habits that you will need to pick up.

Cats and dogs don’t deal well with being left alone. They are prone to separation anxiety, which can mean you have to completely alter your schedule for them. This isn’t true of starter pets; you might need to make small adjustments, but it won’t be the wholesale changes that cats and dogs require. If you struggle to make these adjustments, that’s a good sign that you aren’t ready for the commitment of large pet ownership.

Which, of course, is fine. There’s plenty of fun, enjoyment, and love to enjoy with smaller starter pets – so why not make the leap into a whole new world of pet parenthood?

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…