Tag Archives: Rotations

Not a Real Doctor (#21)

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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.

Jol

Nobody’s Somebody (#7)

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I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts these days. Being on my anaesthesia rotation is a contributing factor, I’m sure. It really just isn’t for me: all the pharmacology and physiology knowledge, the high stress environment and need for rapid decision making and mental calculations. Perhaps it just isn’t my area of interest. Whilst monitoring my patients in surgery I find that my eyes drift from my anaesthetic monitor screens to what the surgeons are doing. And I long to be there, in the midst of the action rather than sitting to the side with a clipboard in hand. I am fairly confident now that if I were to specialise in the future, it’d either be in conservation medicine or surgery.

This Valentine’s day was the first one in very many years that I have spent single, but it was a really good day. After a long day at work I went climbing and shared many laughs and smiles with all the people I have grown to adore. I made lots of new friends, ate lots of chocolate and had an impromptu friendly road race in a sleek race car – all whilst singing along to Taylor Swift. I’ve been trying to decide if I enjoy being single. I certainly don’t miss anxiety and dependency that being in a relationship can bring. And now with working full time and spending my nights studying, I simply don’t have the time to spare. I think I have grown so much. I have made more friends in the past year than I have in the previous 6 years before that. I think I have been making an effort to put myself out there and push my comfort zones, and in doing so, found my confidence and spontaneity back again. I’m really proud of that. But at the same time I feel this emptiness in my soul when it gets too quiet. I wonder about the decisions I have made and debate the value of having renewed hope. I’ve been better than ok in the past year, and I think everything I have gone through was something I desperately needed to experience and learn from. But I do at times miss being somebody’s somebody.

I have decided that if I am going to be nobody’s somebody, I will try to be the kind of nobody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.

Jol