Since my last post for VetPrac I’ve been continuing to learn heaps at uni – and no, that’s not because exams are on and I’m cramming! This semester I’ve begun internal rotations through the various areas of the university and we are finally getting the chance to cut our teeth in the clinical world. This hasn’t been without its difficulties, chief among which seems to be differentiating ‘slightly greyer grey’ from ‘only very slightly greyer grey’ in diagnostic imaging.

Outside of the classroom I’ve experience the other side of the vet-client relationship when my horse decided to get a very frustrating abscess that had me completely revert back to full client mode. It’s amazing what having your own animal injured does to your ability to asses a situation. And by that I mean: completely destroy it!

I’ve also had a brief experience in emergency medicine, which gave me some incredible exposure to a huge range of cases, and taught me how to survive on limited sleep. It took me a little while, but I finally realised that 3 hours a day isn’t enough to stay alert enough to function in a veterinary practice… Luckily I’m only a student, and there are vets on hand to double check the extra zero on the end of my drug doses!

With all of the things I’ve learnt this semester (and judging by the stack of notes beside me, it should have been a lot), by far the biggest thing I’ve learnt in the past few months is resilience. Everybody involved in the profession knows that ours is a lifestyle, which faces unique challenges. What I’ve written so far is just a snapshot of the huge academic requirements, emotional involvement, and long hours that vets, vet students, and vet nurses deal with. Resilience is something that some people are talented at, and for many people it’s something that needs to be learned and practiced. In the same way that we approach surgery, we may have a natural talent, but the more we learn and practice, the better we get. There are always new challenges that present themselves, and sometimes we can’t solve them, but we can learn more so that next time we are better equipped.

The difference is that we know how to fix a gap in our surgical knowledge – we can turn to textbooks, workshops, webinars, and that person you sat next to as an undergrad that is now a specialist. For our resilience and in dealing with our mental health it’s sometimes not that clear, or maybe it is…

There are more and more resources being developed all the time for mental wellness, there are online resources, apps, phone numbers to call, and places to visit. But as well as all of that, there’s also that person you sat next to in undergrad or at a recent workshop or conference. Maybe they can’t help you out as directly as they could with the tricky surgery, but they can help all the same. As a profession we’re all in it together, and we need to build up our own resilience by building up that of those around us and to keep learning from each other.