Posted by: Heidi Hulon, DVM, CCFP, MHFA
I LOVE veterinary medicine! It is an honor to be a part of a profession that saves and enhances the lives of both animals and people. Yet, as a profession, we often forget to save and enhance our own lives. On World Veterinary Day, let us come together to celebrate the great good that we do for others and promise to do great good for ourselves.
Veterinary medicine is challenging, exhausting and overwhelming, yet rewarding, exciting and meaningful. The past two years have certainly emphasized the numerous, serious issues within the profession, but the time has also shown the importance of our relationship with animals – the human-animal bond.
Medically, we are very equipped to deal with challenging situations. Emotionally, we are not. This is where we suffer. The cost of caring for others is the price we pay in losing our own wellbeing and weakening our resiliency.
The theme of World Veterinary Day is “strengthening veterinary resilience.” But what is resilience? It involves thoughts, behaviors and actions that can be learned by anyone. It means you arise stronger and better from adversity. Resiliency is about being elevated, energized and equipped for whatever is next.
Physical strength is built from resistance, repetition and reward. Let us build our profession’s strength in the same manner. It begins in the following ways:
Energizing ourselves: Practicing and requiring self-care is a necessity for veterinarians. It is an ethical imperative. When we give care to ourselves, we are better able to be compassionate to others and ourselves. It is a requirement and a strength for veterinarians. Compassion is being energized for someone who is hurt or suffering. Passion for the work energizes us.
Equipping ourselves: As we service and care for our equipment for optimal working order, so we must equip ourselves to do our best work. Resiliency is not about avoiding challenges or adversities, but rather it is about learning from them. We then use that knowledge to enhance skill and change behavior.
Resiliency skills are both internal and external. Internal skills include self-awareness, self-regulation, self-efficacy and self-care. External skills include connections, meaning and purpose, acceptance and improvising solutions. We are more equipped than we realize.
Elevating ourselves: We are called to do this work. What gives meaning and purpose in our lives is rooted in our values and core beliefs. At our core, we want to help make a difference. Using our resiliency skills allows us to remember our purpose and find gratitude in the meaningful work that we do. When we energize and equip our body and soul, even in the difficult work we often face, there will be elevation in our abilities and our satisfaction with work and life.
Resiliency requires intent. On this day and every day, as a veterinarian, be as intentional in your own care as you are in the care of your patients. They are equally important.
Remind yourself – VETerinary MEdicine needs ME!