Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Autumn Equinox, Easter, Passover, Buddhas Festival of Teachings, Assyrian New Year, Hanuman and the Pagan festival of Spring. A time to celebrate!

But what are we celebrating? For many of these festivals we are honouring people who have made a difference in the way we live today. And it serves us well to look at our own lives and ask – are we making a difference? Interestingly, the stories of our past, are not told by them. They are told by the generations that were changed as a result.

It is so easy to have a difficult clinical encounter and feel like our whole world is collapsing. It is easy to get lost in thought while elbow deep in excrement wondering what are we doing with our lives. It is easy to drive out to a call at 2am, and be given cold water to wash with and feel undervalued… But for those who are remembered – those tales are usually left out. Perhaps, although we remember them and they plague us, we shouldn’t let them stop us from becoming who we want to be. We can’t stop the bad times, but we can hold them loosely and at a distance, so they don’t burn us. Maybe we don’t need to self-criticize or let others criticism scald us- after all, how does it help? As scientists with a degree that includes animal behaviour, do we honestly think that punishment (even if it comes from within) will help us?

I often wonder about how our clients, speak of us? What do they tell their friends and families of our sacrifices and successes, or the commitment and passion we project. What do they think of our intellect and skills? People will never understand what it’s like to be a vet. They can only dream of it. And in their dreams – they see themselves in your shoes. They see you as being the person they want to be. Or they recognise humbly, they don’t have what it takes to be you.  Their children remember us and the care we gave their best friends. The farmers whose businesses we consult on, are more grateful than we can appreciate. I doubt some of the dodgier animal owners care much for us… but if everyone always loved us, we’d be boring.

The purpose of the veterinary profession is to protect the health and well-being of animals and people. That’s a big friggin’ job!

Being a vet is a challenge. The challenge as I see it is ‘How do you protect the quality of lives of animals, and improve economies without harming animals or people? And if you have to take lives or charge money or cause pain or to do it, how do you do it with integrity?’ We have a real opportunity to make the world a better place. And, we have the capacity to actually achieve this, in every person and animal we encounter. How lucky is that?!

Quite often I run into clients who don’t seem to want to protect the health or well being of their animals, or possibly even themselves. And I always go back to telling them what my job and purpose is. And I ask them, what they want to achieve in our time together. Sometimes, I don’t get the answers I like, and I try to achieve my purpose around their limitations. Sometimes, they do a complete flip and enable me to achieve my purpose with vigour. I do love it when that happens.

It is said, that the more you repeat a goal and work on it, the more likely it is to come into fruition. Whenever I tell people why I’m a vet and why I offer skills training to vets, I glow. Apparently there’s some good evidence backing that up too. The Goal Setting theory of Locke from the 60’s has evolved… This theory found a direct linear relationship between goal difficulty, level of performance, and effort involved. The relationship will stay positive, as long as the person is committed to the goal, has the requisite ability to attain it, and doesn’t have conflicting goals. So basically, if you set a difficult goal for yourself that is specific you are more likely to succeed at achieving it.

If you are a vet or vet nurse who wants to fulfill their purpose and you are committed to it, then I want you to know that VetPrac is committed to providing you with the resources you need to build on your abilities to attain it. Doing workshops with us will inspire you and help you on your path to helping others. They may not write stories about us, our struggles or successes in years to come, but we didn’t get into the job for the fame did we? We had a calling. 

Happy Holidays friends!

Dr Ilana Mendels