A note to my veterinary colleagues

I thought of you today.

Whether you are still in veterinary college, out in private practice, working in academia or industry, I offer the following to you.

I just finished teaching my part in a VIN on-line course called “Healthy Clinicians 1“. Unfortunately, only those that paid for it can view the info but there is a part 2 coming up. I’ll be attending the sessions, as I believe it’s important for me to find a way to deal with the stresses of everyday practice.  The courses are a worthwhile investment as I’m learning tools to take with me into the real world.

I’ve been invited to speak to the vet students at Ontario Veterinary College, on Nov 5th. I’m going to introduce mindfulness meditation to them, as a tool for how to focus on the breath and remain aware even though the thoughts keep coming into our consciousness. I’m doing this through the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, which is recognizing that health and wellness are as much a part of veterinary practice as is healing animals and monitoring the economics of practice. I have lots of thoughts in my head but I’ve learned that not all of them are worth following. You might want to read (I know you don’t have time!) the book by Dan Harris, called “10% Happier”. He is an American TV journalist that is using meditation as a tool to keep him in one of the toughest professions out there.

I remember my last year in vet school as being tough.  I don’t do overnight shifts well so I found Large Animal on-call and Critical Care night shift to be very challenging. I remember having an hour long cry in the Dean of Students office, after I got back from my January externship because I was exhausted, worried about the future and just not sure about how I was doing. I strongly suggest that finding someone to talk to in person is a great help. I don’t remember what he said to me, as I was crying in his office. I was a mess. But he listened and that was good in itself.

I still struggle with wanting to please clients and save all the animals. I’ve definitely not been able to do that with 100% success and don’t expect to ever be able to achieve even close to that. One quote I’ve heard, from Dr. Michele Gaspar, that helps me is “We can only do what time and resources allow”.

There are lots of resources to go to on VIN.

1. Check the VIN Rounds tab/page for the following.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 9:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) – Venting over a Venti
(Tuesday, October 14, 9:30 pm ET)
Need to vent? Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP, MA, and other colleagues are here to lend an ear.

2. Mindfulness Meditation sessions are held on-line and at no-charge. You can contact Dr. Michele Gaspar on VIN, as she helps run these sessions. I met a vet student from Australia/New Zealand (?) just last week at the Tues 7 am meditation.
Michele has also done some great Rounds on VIN. Here’s a recent one that she did on perfectionism. I found it helpful!

I have had my share of failures in private practice and in teaching/consulting too. I’d never wish it on anyone. But somehow, I made it to the other side, have tried to develop ways to prevent it from recurring and try not to focus all my energies on worrying about it. It’s strange how our profession remembers all the “failures” rather than all the successes. As I write this to you, I’m looking at a thank you card from a client who sent it after I treated her budgie. And I had stressed about the diagnosis/plan/homecare, called to follow-up on weekend. Seems all went ok.

One last thing I’ve learned is from Stephen Cope, who wrote the book “The Great Work of Your Life”.  His interpretation of following your dharma (what you were meant to do in this world; your Gift; your calling), is this:
Find your dharma.
Do it full out.
Let go of the outcome.
Give it up to a higher power.

Please forgive my long-windedness. I just think it is so important to share with you.

Know that we’re all in in this together,
Gwen