By Alex Rowell, Psy.D,
Vet Med Wellness Coordinator/CAPS Psychology Resident
As the quarter is now fully underway, I am sure there have been times where you have been thinking to yourself, “how I am going to get all of this done?” or “Am I cut out for this?” This internal dialogue has a way of creeping into those little places in our lives that increase our self-doubt, insecurities, and even the ability to reflect on why you even embarked on the journey of veterinary medicine.
Whether you just began classes a month ago, or cannot wait until June to finish, it is important to remind yourself that the work each of you do is impactful, important, and incredible. Being a professional student is something that very few people understand or can even comprehend. I am sure there have been countless times where you wanted to go out with your family or loved ones but could not because you had a Pharmacology lecture at 8 am, or had to go into lab on a Saturday while everyone else was relaxing.
The word “normal” or “day off” has little meaning to those whose choose to practice the art of being a healer. The word heal means to resolve, repair, remedy and to settle – things that every one of you do – but the true meaning of healing is not measured simply by a test score or a lab result, it is measured by the influence you have on your patients. Whether it is a dog wagging its tail, overwhelmed with excitement to see its owner, or it is a horse going to its final restful sleep, to heal does not mean to cure, it means you have given a small part of your life, knowledge, and practice to an animal and its owner.
Being a healer does not mean you have all the answers and resolutions to remedy the diseases of your patients; being a healer is more than that: it means that you are brave enough to empathize with your patients – both the good and the bad.
I hope you can remember all of this when it is the middle of the night and you have been studying for six hours’ straight; or when you look across at your classmate, can tell they had a rough day and need a shoulder to lean on. I hope you can remember that compassion is essential for your patients, but more importantly for yourself. Self-compassion does not mean you have to ignore your pain or even repress it; it truly means that you meet your own anxiety, depression, and self-doubt with a kind heart. And when that little voice comes in and tries to tell you that you are not good enough, or do not deserve to be here, remember there will be patients in your professional life that will remind you why you chose to practice the art of healing.