Cynde Gardner, DVM, CH, is a veterinarian currently practicing as a Medical Hypnotherapist and Stress Reduction Specialist. She opened her current company, Bright Paths, after an accident left her unable to continue daily veterinary medical practice.
II: Describe your career path… the route you took from Graduation to what you are doing today.
CG: After graduation I went to work in a local practice. After a couple of years, I had the opportunity to purchase a cat practice that I opened up into a full animal hospital, seeing dogs, cats and exotics. I had been in practice for 10 years when one day I ran out at lunch for a quick errand and never made it back. I was t-boned by someone who ran a stop.
Unfortunately, I developed a chronic pain syndrome (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) and had lost much of the use of my right arm and hand. It became impossible for me to physically practice veterinary medicine any longer. This led to the sale of my practice, and my moving into the corporate world at VPI for 15 years. During this time I was in severe pain continuously.
I was at a conference, having a particularly painful day, when a total stranger approached me and offered to
help. After confirming that what this total stranger was suggesting was legal, ethical and moral, I allowed him to hypnotize me there in the middle of the conference break with everyone milling and networking around me. I was out of pain for the first time in 15 years.
I knew immediately that I had a new career in hypnosis. I had to be able to share this with other chronic
sufferers of physical, mental or emotional pain. After extensive training, Bright Paths was founded. I love being able to share the benefits of self-hypnosis and stress reduction with others.
II: What does your job entail?
CG: Today I work with frustrated or burned-out veterinarians who have had it with their current life and are ready to take immediate, simple, yet powerful steps to create the life they’ve always wanted. I travel and speak to veterinary groups, hospitals and conferences, sharing simple, practical tools that can be implemented immediately to instantly reduce their stress level.
Simple tools that can be used anywhere, at any time to create massive change in their lives. I offer webinars, teleseminars and group programs to those interested in going more deeply and learning about additional tools to fill their toolbox and make their desired changes happen more quickly. They also learn how to insure sustainability of their desired changes.
II: What are the best things about your job?
CG: Seeing the joy and passion return to someone’s life is amazing. Watching a doctor’s face go from pinched and stressed to soft and relaxed, often in a matter of minutes. Offering people realistic tools they can use to make a big impact in their lives.
II: What are some challenges you face in your position?
CG: People have many misconceptions about what hypnosis is and how it can benefit them. A few people are openly afraid of it, thinking it is mind control. In some ways I wish it were. If that was the case, it would be a simple matter to just hypnotize someone, tell them to make the change they want (stop smoking, eliminate stress, lose weight, learn things faster or retain more knowledge, etc.) and it would simply happen. One session and done.
Instead, hypnotherapy is a collaborative effort. Without consent and cooperation, the hypnotherapist is unable to guide the individual to make and sustain the changes they desire.
Another significant challenge is the fact that in the veterinary field, it has been taboo to talk about mental and emotional challenges. Veterinarians have had to “tough-it- out”, often believing that they were the only one feeling emotional and mental stress, overload or burnout. The fear of repercussion from regulatory bodies, loss of status, ridicule, fear of being perceived as weak, and so much more has kept veterinarians from seeking help.
Now, the subject is open for discussion, but few solutions have been presented. That is why I was compelled to combine my experience as a veterinarian with my knowledge as a medical hypnotherapist to create a program from a veterinarian to veterinarians that gives them simple, yet powerful tools to overcome career-threatening burnout and reignite their passion for veterinary medicine and life.
II: Looking back, what do you know now that you wish you would have known as a Vet Student?
CG: Ahhhh….If only I had known then what I know now! I wish I had been taught the tools (not just theory) to
manage stress appropriately; specific, simple tools to significantly reduce stress both in high-tension situations and in daily life. Giving students these tools would be invaluable during school, as well as in practice.
Also, I wanted to “save them all”. If there was something that could be done, I thought it should be done. It
took considerable frustration and heartbreak for me to understand that what I thought should be done (what was right for me if it were my pet) wasn’t necessarily right for the individual client and pet.
Acceptance that everyone is different and has different needs, perspectives and financial situations made a world of difference in decreasing the stress in my life.
II: What are some challenges/changes you see for the veterinary profession?
CG: The unreasonable stress level in the veterinary field is probably the single biggest challenge students,
veterinarians and their staff face. Reducing the stress level in all aspects of the field so that people can remain passionate about veterinary medicine and life must happen. We should begin teaching practical stress reduction techniques with first-year students and reinforce them throughout school and their career.
II: What is your most memorable patient or moment in veterinary medicine?
CG: There were many wonderful, memorable times in practice. One of my clients had a beautiful, huge, gray
Persian cat. This cat was so laid-back that nothing bothered him. His owner would come in, set him on the
counter and he would walk over to “his spot” on the counter and plant himself where he could see everything going on in the lobby. He remained exactly the same whether it was a quiet day, or there was total chaos. He just sat there enjoying the view and especially liked it when everyone coming in would stop to say hi to him. He had a tendency to visit and hang out with us. He was a delight to treat, too.
II: What are some of your hobbies outside of veterinary medicine?
CG: I particularly love traveling. We recently visited Ireland. Learning about different cultures has always been a
draw for me. Playing with the grandchildren and watching them discover life is wonderful entertainment.
II: Do you have a dream species that you would like to work with?
CG: My dream species is the ever-elusive veterinarian.
II: How would you like to see technology affect vet med?
CG: I love gadgets, so anything that will make practice easier, more effective and more accurate is great.
However, when technology replaces the human touch, intuition, common sense and old-fashioned “gut
feelings” it has gone too far.
II: Anything other words of advice about your specialty?
CG: I love working with burned-out veterinarians who have had it with their current life and are ready to take immediate, simple, yet powerful steps to reignite their passion for life and their career.
II: Anything else you’d like to share?
CG: I offer a free strategy session and stress evaluation to veterinarians who are ready to take action and change their lives.
To sign up, go to: http://www.strategysessionwithcynde.com
Cynde Gardner, DVM, CH; www.brightpaths.com firstname.lastname@example.org