Being a veterinarian is such a rewarding occupation because we have the ability to be a voice for those who cannot speak. Due to this, we care deeply for our patients and always go above and beyond for them. However, making the transition from a recent graduate to general practice has its own daily challenges and stresses. Our passion for the job often makes us place our work at the highest priority. We try to be perfect and that brings on an endless amount of strain. Unfortunately, it makes us put our physical and mental health on the back burner.
We need to learn to take care of ourselves so we can provide the best care to our patients. Through my own experience, I have developed techniques to help deal with the pressures that come with being a new veterinarian.
1. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
As a new vet, I was extremely stressed about not being able to do a surgery, diagnose a disease, or perform simple procedures. I was afraid to seek help because it made me feel like I was not ready. However, understanding I am not perfect helped me really accept that we come out of school with the aim to learn. Asking for help from more experience people is the perfect way to do that. For example, I had my first eye lid flap surgery on a non-healing corneal ulcer. I was so worried because I never did one before. I consulted my colleagues for tricks and tips that the textbooks do not really express and the surgery was super successful. Anytime I have a case I have never dealt with before as a new vet, I always go to my seniors for guidance.
2. Do not compare yourself.
As I started working in my practice, I would feel myself comparing what I was doing with that of more experienced colleagues who had been practicing for 15 to 30 years and would feel inefficient. Once I remembered I had been in practice for less than four months, I realized comparing was somewhat funny. Instead of doing this, I started using the opportunity to discuss my cases with them and listen to their knowledge and experiences to develop my own skills and work ethic. Mental health is just as important in your life as anything else. I believe the way you portray yourself in your mind is exactly what comes to life. In our field, it is easy to get into a negative state of mind but you have to remember to focus on the positives.
3. Take care of your body.
If you take care of your body and mind daily at home, a balanced work-life will follow. Physical health can often cause challenges as a veterinarian. We work a tremendous number of hours. By putting aside 30 minutes to an hour a day to perform an activity, such as going to the gym, playing a sport, or going for a walk, I have gained more energy and am performing better at work. I feel more confident, less stressed, happier, more motivated than ever, and like my life has a bigger purpose than just work. It is important to take time for yourself. When I started working, I forgot about the other side of my life. I programmed myself to believe that if I tried to disconnect, I was not being good veterinarian. It got to the point where I started using my personal phone to contact the owners on my day off. Without even being at work, I wasn’t taking time off. I finally realized I am human and need time for myself to regroup and rest when I started analyzing my daily routine on my days off or after work. I did not do anything for myself and just stressed about my job. Since, I made sure all my patients were transferred on my days off and started enjoying life outside the clinic.
4. Feed your mind.
Veterinarians read endless amounts of bloodwork and reports every day. This is great, but you also have to feed other parts of your brain. I start my day with a book that supports the mind with gratitude, positivity, visualization, and happiness. These four fundamental attributes help me boost morale and allowed me to think and analyze any difficult situation and connect to clients with an open mind. I have changed my mentality and it has spilled into my work-life without even trying. Here are some of the books I recommend: The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy, and Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins.
5. Write things down.
After I do my meditation and reading in the morning, I write in my two journals. In one I write about my days at work and in the second I note all my goals and aspirations from the past, present, and future. Being able to let out my thoughts on paper improved my mindset. This allowed me to see my goals and desires come to life. The way you think and act will always reflect the outcome of your life. Therefore, if you want growth, financial abundance, or anything else, act as if you already have it. Be as though you possess your greatest desires and they will manifest before your eyes.
Being a new veterinarian is not a simple task and you should give it your all. That said, I challenge you to try out these few simple tasks in your daily routine for a month. Let me know if it has changed you and if you need any help, I am here personally to share any pointers or recommendations. Good luck.