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Our #NextSquad’s experiences and advice during COVID-19

INSTAGRAM @sarahannesaid    TWITTER @sarahannesaid   
Sarah Said is the current editor of NextGen and host of NextPod. Formerly the assistant editor for Veterinary Practice News, she is interested in connecting emerging professionals with each other and providing a safe space for important discourse within the veterinary industry.

Dr. Ana Proaño, a #NestSquad contributor, originally from Sonora, Mexico.

As the world is coping with an unprecedented pandemic in the best way it can every day, we as young professionals must also take responsibility to do our part in making a change. Though most of us are confined to our homes, there is still opportunity to support and uplift each other by sharing our stories and wellness tips. With that, we asked our #NextSquad to tell us how they have been dealing with this situation and what they do to maintain positivity (in addition to excessive amounts of memes and TikToks, of course).

BY DANIELLE LANCER (@Dogtor_Danielle)

The COVID-19 virus is changing things for 2020. Currently, at the University of Sydney, years one through three of the DVM program are online, including practicals if able. This semester, I mainly have pathology so that is easy to do online and they have a website with the slides for us. The fourth year DVMs are still able complete clinics, except all international rotations are canceled. Graduation for the 2019 class in March was canceled. Australia’s school year runs from February to December.

Even though my classes are online, I am unable to return home to my family in the U.S. where I feel safe surrounded by family. It is hard being in a foreign country unable to return home in the fear of not completing my second year due to border shut downs. So many things have changed including my travel plans, which I know is small compared to the pandemic, but veterinary students have few things to look forward to in this program. Travel and graduation are some of the highlights we wait for. We need to stay strong and make smart choices, including staying home and practicing social distancing. People in Sydney, Australia, are not taking things seriously and the government is trying to change things. I look forward to the day the borders open up and I can go back to in person classes.

BY ANA PROAÑO (@anna.proano)

To all the vet students out there who are probably going through a hard time because of how this situation is affecting your education, let me tell you: every sacrifice has a reward and there’s nothing absolutely nothing that can take this away from you. You got this, even if you have to finish the course online, even if you don’t get the practice you wanted, even you don’t get to celebrate graduation the way you wanted, it’s okay. I know it’s not gonna be easy and we’re all trying to figure this out but you’re not alone, you’re being trained to save lives, and you can’t expect that to be easy. Keep giving your 100 percent even if it has to be from home and keep pushing forward because when you finally become a doctor you will remember that this didn’t break you, it made you stronger. We got this.

We’re all feeling confused, scared, tired, and sad. I have to stay home without doing what I love the most, which is working with animals everyday, but we have to be considerate of each other knowing that these sacrifices are for the best, for everyone’s health. I’m proud of how we’re all coming together to fight this. And to all those who are really affected by this situation, I’m thinking of you and my prayers go to you.

BY ERIN SEVDE (@notyouraveragedogtor)

There are so many things going through my mind with the quarantine. My first thought is obviously about everyone’s safety. Not myself, but those that are high risk. My parents are older and they aren’t going back to Oregon like they normally do for spring time. Traveling is just too dangerous. I’m lucky I was able to get off the island and can isolate myself in Iowa with my boyfriend. That’s the plus to this; we get to spend more time together.

My thoughts then go to how this affects me. What will happen with school? Will it add more time to this already demanding program? I feel for my friends who miss out on clinics and don’t get to experience walking across the stage at their graduation. Something all of us have been dreaming about.

Right now, the only way I am directly affected is I’m off the island and am taking classes online. My friends in clinics are missing out on valuable hands on experience. Their schools are doing what they can to continue to give the students the best education they can.

We are all doing our best. I know some people may try and invalidate others’ feelings. Especially regarding things like celebrations. Yes, other people’s situations may be worse, but we are still allowed to be sad about missing out on things we have dreamed about. We are all allowed to be sad about the things that upset us, even if it feels like our problems may be less than others.

I feel for everyone this virus has impacted. We have to remember to see each situation for what it is. And it’s ok to be sad. Even if someone may seem to have it worse. Remember your feelings are valid.

Stay safe everyone. Do what they are asking. We have to work together.

BY IOLI TZAVARA (@dogtorioli)

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, self isolation is the only way to protect ourselves and make all healthcare workers’ jobs easier. Personally, I am an introvert/homebody and it’s not to hard for me to stay at home that long. Of course I feel “trapped” and I am not allowed to do the things I was doing before, like going to the gym, going out for dinner, and visiting friends, but I respect the public health rules.
I would like to share a few things I am doing and give you ideas of how to spend the day to remain in a good state of mind.

1. Appreciate the time you have being by yourself.

2. Take care of yourself. Do face masks and try the incredible homemade hair masks with honey that you couldn’t do before, due to lack of time. Brush your teeth with that new charcoal toothpaste and laugh at your smile. Try new makeup looks.

3. It’s cooking time. Go on Pinterest, find the most amazing Instagrammable recipes, and try them all. After all of this, you’ll be able to apply for Masterchef (no idea which season we’re at).

4. Netflix, of course. It’s the perfect time to start watching all kinds of TV series and movies. I suggest you watch The End of the F*** World. I’m not kidding, I was impressed. It’s probably the show with the best soundtrack EVER.

5. Shake it, shake it! Exercise indoors. Find the best kind of workouts you can do at home (YouTube has a ton to try). Stay in shape, because summer 2020 is coooooming.

5. As a vet student I can’t skip this part: PETS. Spend time with your dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig, and teach them new tricks.

6. Work time. You are probably working from home, so organize your desk, grab a cup of tea, and let’s get some stuff done!

BY SABRINA DOTTO (@future.dr.sabrina)

It’s so hard to know what to do when you can’t see with your own eyes what is happening. In this profession, we are driven to be a help to society, and we have been named an essential work force, even so, there’s so much unknown at this point. Having so many other vet schools shut down makes me feel a bit like we are in the twilight zone. The best thing we can do is take as many precautions as we can and have hope for our future.

BY MARIA ESTEFANIA COLON (@fania_thevetstudent)

For many of us, the coronavirus came to change our daily lives and future. The uncertainty is here; I know it has not been easy to stay home, isolate ourselves from others, and having the semester switched to online classes. But, we must keep going and do what we can in these hard times. So, I have three pieces of advice to deal with this pandemic.

 1. Work on those personal goals that you have forgotten and you did not have time before. Write them down and not be afraid to try them out. Those personal goals could be reading a new book every week, practicing yoga at home, signing up for an online photography course, or writing a book. Setting up your goals will give you a fuel of energy and the boost of dopamine that you need right now.

 2. Take a few minutes to remind yourself of all the things that you have accomplished so far. Be grateful for them and where you are in your veterinary journey. Go back to your memories/pictures and remember all those wonderful moments. I am sure you are where you always wanted to be (vet school)… and this pandemic will make you a stronger student and veterinarian. 

3. Reconnect with your old friends and spend time with your fur babies. Don’t take them for granted and call those friends you haven’t talked in a while. Check on them and share with them how is your quarantine going. You never know what someone else is feeling, thinking, or going through. You may be the highlight of their day. And also don’t forget to play with your fur babies!

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