Tag Archives: kindness

Not a Real Doctor (#21)


I often say “I should have gone to med school instead”, but last weekend for the first time in my life I meant it. I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was 9 years old, and I gave up everything to chase that dream. It was the only thing I have ever wanted to do, despite the low wage, lack of recognition and high suicide rates. But final year has broken me.

I am absolutely drained, not simply of energy but also of passion and conviction. Hard as I try I cannot will myself to pick up my books and study for yet another exam. I’ve recently been contemplating the idea that it simply isn’t worth it. All that effort put in and abuse taken, and almost half a million dollars in university fees, for a lifetime of shitty pay and a lack of recognition. To get told you aren’t a real doctor; that you don’t save real lives. No one becomes a vet for the money. But given the work and effort we put into it all, the massive discrepancies with regards to income and social recongition for the human and veterinary medical profession does get to me.

I’ve calculated that I have been made to work 130 hours over the past 2 weeks on my equine rotation.  I know that to register as a vet you need to know about all the different species, regardless of whether you intend to ever work with them in the future. But it is an unrealistic expectation for students to remember every bit of information they had learnt over the past 6 years – especially when they are worked to the bone during the day and have little time outside of work to revise the material. I struggle with equine medicine, having never grown up around horses and having little interest in the subject area, and I got put down everyday for it: told I wasn’t good enough; and that I would make a shitty doctor. On a rainy saturday night I was involved in a minor car accident. I was ok, but my tyre had blown out. I hadn’t a tyre iron with me, and after getting some help from a friend, realised that my spare wheel was flat too. I emailed my supervisors saying that I wasn’t able to make it in time for morning treatments on sunday due to my circumstances, and was met with the cold reply that I should have ubered into work regardless. I think that was the breaking point for me. I called my mom sobbing and spent the next week endlessly worrying that I would be failed because of circumstances that were beyond my control.

I promised myself that regardless of my position in the future – if I ever make it as a specialist surgeon – that I would remember what is was like to be me right at this moment, that I would always treat my peers with respect and compassion. That I wouldn’t allow the stress and pressure get to me in such a way that I became destructive to the dreams of others.

When people meet me they say “Wow you must really love animals to choose veterinary medicine”. But in truth it is because I don’t like people. A dog bites because it is fearful and a lion kills because it is hungry. But we have an ability to be unkind despite intelligent reasoning. It is unkindness without a cause.

Come to think of it, the things that have been getting to me lately have been due to the words and actions of people, rather than my work with the animals. My faith in people (and myself) is broken, but my yearning to help animals remains unchanged. So maybe I don’t actually mean it when I say I should have gone to med school instead. And maybe this isn’t a dream I should give up on just yet.




The first year of vet school has been grueling to say the least- evident by my lack of posts maybe? I hope I pass all of my units, but I am actually fairly confident I’ll need to fly back here in January to take a supp for my anatomy practical exam. Either way, I have been trying to put the worry out of my mind until I have a confirmation, but it is actually an incredibly difficult feat for my nerd-brain. Many things have been going on in my life that I think have been quite share-worthy. I will write only about the most prominent events.

Many of you may have heard about my bicycle stolen from the bike racks at uni- resulting in this very angsty letter.
UntitledI must say, I tried to be as encompassing and forgiving as I could but it is almost impossible to love your bike thief, especially since it was your mode of transport to school, and it just added extra pressure in an already hectic exam period. And it made me weep, both for my loss and for humanity. Regardless of the few (maybe 4?) posters I put up around school and the “STOLEN BIKE” post on the classifieds page, I had been pretty resigned to my fate. I mean, what are the chances, really, of recovering your stolen item. My housemate, however, told me to just pray for it’s restoration. So I did, albeit a  little half-heartedly. A week later, I received an email from this girl, S. It detailed how she unfortunately didn’t have any information regarding my stolen bicycle, but proposed to me an alternative option. You see, she had bought a bicycle- the exact same one I lost, but less new- 7 months ago and had been meaning to fix it up and ride it, but never got around to having the time for it. She read about m plight on the classifieds page and decided she wanted to give it to me. No payment, simply a re-compensation of passing the kind deed forward. And  I guess it made my year, not so much that I got a bike again, but that people like S exist out there, amidst the thieves and cheats. And it made me so hopeful regarding the world, and how it really isn’t that much of a terrible place. And I do miss my bike because a lot of effort from both Li and I went into it, but losing it allowed me to meet just the most wonderful stranger, and that was an incredible blessing.

I guess whilst this semester has been pretty difficult- probably one of the most difficult times of my life, I have just had so many things to be thankful about. There has been an abundance of blessing on me- I applied for a shitty abusive waitress job and didn’t get it after 2 exhausting (practically unpaid) days of trials, but then just a few weeks later, I got a job as a co-ordinator for a youth centre. I literally get paid $20/hour to befriend the kids and study my course notes as they did their homework, and then play the XBox/PS3 with them. God says no sometimes because he has something so much better for you. I am thankful for my group of friends in church and school that I can always rely on, for the people in Singapore I don’t speak to for ages but are always, always there when big issues hit, and for my classmates. My class is truly incredible. I used to think vet school was a dog eat dog world, and in some aspects it is, but I am so thankful that my class has an “All-in-this-together” spirit *Cue High School Musical*. I mean, we have a facebook page where everyone helps each other out as best they can, from past exams to collaborating on practice question and answers to even haring notes and everything that may help us all graduate. And it is so different from Singapore, it surprised me so much- that these are some of the smartest kids in WA and they want to share all that they have. I suppose it made me just feel like adding into it as much as I could too.

Kindness spreads. We tend to forget that, especially in the worst of times. But kindness, like a healthy bacteria, has the power to conquer the most vicious days. I hope we never forget to be kind.