That reference may be a bit overdone these days, but even as the Stark words about winter rang true in time, so too will these words. Last year, clinics were a far-off dream, an ominous and thrilling fantasy that I never believed I would actually realize. Now, my clinic schedule is set, and I am working on setting up externships at clinics that will provide me with the experience I need to become an efficient and competent veterinarian.
I am excited to finally be applying what I’ve worked hard to learn over the past two years. I’m excited to work hands on with patients, clinicians, and clients, solve diagnostic puzzles, and see medicine at work. I want to learn more about medicine, the practicality of using certain therapies over others, and get to the point where scrubbing in to surgery isn’t a first.
I am terrified that I will fail my patients. I am terrified that I haven’t learned enough, that I don’t understand the intricacies of anesthesia well enough, that I am not adept enough at communication to convince clients that flea and tick medicine is actually necessary and not a ploy by veterinarians to cheat people out of their money.
The truth is, all of the above is true. I am not good enough – yet. Because I’m going to clinics to learn. There’s a saying – I have no idea who originally said it – that no one is ever perfect at medicine, and that’s why we call it practicing. I know there will be a patient who dies under my care, and a client who doesn’t think I did enough. That client may be right. I will make mistakes, over the next two years and after. That’s what malpractice insurance is for – that’s what continuing education is for. Veterinary medicine is a profession where the practitioners are never done learning.
I am excited and I am terrified, because clinics are coming. And after clinics, I’ll have to pay my debts.