This may come as a surprise to many vet students, but as it turns out the entire world does not revolve around veterinary medicine and vet school! I know, a strange concept. Your life might even feel turned upside down. Spending so much time studying, learning, and working to succeed as a veterinary professional allows the lines to be blurred on how the rest of the world around us operates. The good news is that there is still time to recognize this and embrace it!
Don’t get me wrong, my goal in life is to be a successful veterinarian but I think what gets lost in the blur of trying to learn the enormous amount of information needed to treat our patients is all of the other aspects that allow one to be a successful professional and prosperous person.
Let me put it this way, you are the smartest kid at veterinary school, straight A’s and on your way to become some fancy surgeon. But here's the thing, if you cannot communicate or convey how great you are to the people around you it’s pretty hard to get very far! Being able to market yourself professionally through proper communication, good interview skills, and even the ability to recognize your shortcomings is a HUGE aspect of succeeding in the veterinary profession and it is surely not something you learn in anatomy class! There are so many ways you can start to build these skills. Join clubs, take leadership roles, get involved with your community OUTSIDE of vet med! This is my inspiration for you to put yourself out there and learn these professional skills, I mean you are the smartest kid in vet school after all, make sure you can convey how great you actually are (with some caution on being overly confident of course).
Next, I want to talk about people skills, working as a team, understanding how to effectively connect with those around you. One way I explore this topic is through the enneagram. As an enneagram 8, I recently learned that most people don’t thrive off of tough love and being aggressively pushed to their limits. I honestly had no clue that other people’s pep talks to themselves did not include things like “stop being a baby and get it together.” And I really wondered why people often shut down on me when I thought I was giving them was the motivation they needed! The point here is to explore how other people operate on a day to day basis, because it probably is a lot different than you. Learning the most effective way to communicate and get a point across to a group of people with many different internal motivations and drives will help you to be the best leader you can be.
My final bit of advice is to have interests that do not have to do with being a veterinarian. Allow yourself to have options when you need a mental break. Starting off not with a good school/life balance will only allow you to avoid burnout in the future. You NEED something other than vet med, trust me.
Knowing that I am on the way to becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is a lifelong dream and something that I am incredibly passionate about and proud of. But at the end of the day, there is a lot more to life than that and each and every one of you are so much more than just a vet student/Veterinarian. Go explore what that means to you, and I promise in the end you'll be a better person and doctor for it.