Veterinary medicine has always been teetering on the edge of crisis. 2020 came around and we fell deep into unprecedented times. There weren’t enough doctors to see the patients. There weren’t enough technicians to efficiently perform the treatments our patients needed. Those left in the field felt overextended. We were multitasking and putting on hats that we never thought we would have to wear. We were exhausted. On edge. We were dealing with grumpy clients. As time has passed, some of us have adjusted to the new demands, some have set boundaries, some have been stuck in the same crazy routine and some have even chosen to leave the profession. How do we start to heal from the chaos the past few years have brought us?
Start Searching for the Glimmers
We must start looking for the glimmers. In the way that going to work knowing you’ll be short staffed is a trigger for anxiety, knowing that you will be working with your favorite coworker today is a glimmer. A glimmer is a moment of happiness that allows us to feel joy, feel safe or even forget about some of the more difficult aspects of our job. A glimmer is a moment that brings us back to enjoying the work we do. A glimmer can be a puppy with a splinted fracture, wagging its tail while it’s leaving the hospital. It can be the feeling of accomplishment in your boss telling you that you did a great job or the feeling of accomplishment knowing your charts are done for the evening and you will make it home at a decent time. A glimmer can be “thank you” donuts from a client or an owner hugging you out of gratitude.
Nothing Happened If It’s Not Documented
We have been living in a time when our brains have been trained to look for the next impending threat. It could be work related or even looking an the social/political dynamics that have caused tension. We’ve lived with the options of freeze, fight or flee for so long that it’s become the norm. To challenge that we must search for and remind ourselves of the glimmers. Journaling and writing down the good parts of your day is crucial to rewiring how we look at the world around us. Having moments of joy and feeling grateful spill onto a page is proof during difficult times that everything will be ok. As we know from writing up charts, nothing ever happened if it wasn’t documented.
Share Glimmers with the People Around You
Share a smile. A kind word. Tell people “Thank you”. Bring cookies. Do things that you know will bring a smile to other peoples faces. Bring glimmers into other people’s world. It’s easy to get caught up in our lives and just live moment to moment. If you take a moment to see how you can share a glimmer, you’ll be surprised how quickly that glimmer will come back to you. We must remind each other of the kindness, joy, and beauty in the world. We can do that by being kind and willing to share your glimmer with someone else.
Vet med is tough. Life is tough. But both are worth it. Look for the glimmers and share them. We can get past the past. To make a better future we must quit living there. Always show and share your joy.