Vet Student, ready or not, as your veterinary career develops, your anonymity diminishes. For extroverted veterinarians the blurred personal/professional line is less distressing.
Introverted veterinarians, however, may find the extra attention to be more than they bargained for.
It’s one of those little things they forget to tell you in vet school, success in veterinary practice results in a “following” of sorts. The development of a large client base is a direct reflection of the human lives you touch, and the animal patients you help. But interactions with those humans outside the safety of your veterinary practice can be uncomfortable for some.
Sunday morning. You roll out of bed, throw on sweats and a t-shirt, put on a ball-cap and head out the door. Coffee. You just need some coffee, and you might as well pick up toilet paper and cat litter while you are out.
LEVEL 1: COFFEEHOUSE
A cheerful barista gushes as she hands you your order:
“Hi Dr. Vet! Cindy has been doing all kinds of silly things lately. I can’t believe how big she has gotten! Do you think it is normal for her to grow so fast?”
The voice in your head: Who are you? Who is Cindy? What is Cindy?
You: “It’s probably nothing to worry about. What are you feeding her, Sarah?” (Her nametag says Sarah…)
Sarah: “Just puppy food and not table scraps just like you said! I can’t wait to weigh her next week during her appointment.”
You: “It will be great to see her again. See you next week!”
LEVEL 1 COMPLETE!
LEVEL 2: BIG BOX STORE
As you walk toward the entrance you consider your strategy. The items you need are on opposite sides of the store. The potential for discovery is high. You pull your cap down a little tighter and head toward pet supplies.
As you near that area of the store you recognize the unmistakable voice of Chatty Kathy, owner of Fluffy the finicky feline, in a very animated conversation regarding canned cat food.
You change tactics and head toward paper products. Halfway there you spot Mrs. Jones and daughter Janie who sobbed uncontrollably as they made the difficulty decision to euthanize their geriatric gerbil the previous day.
You make a quick right into the clothing section where you weave carefully through the displays emerging at the front of the store, walk straight out the front door and climb in your car. Cat litter and toilet paper can wait for another day.
LEVEL 2 FAILED
Obviously, this is an extreme example of the situations you may face regularly as a veterinarian. Avoiding your clients in your off time does not make you a bad vet! This profession can be emotionally draining and we all need some down time.
There are limits to the level of social interaction each person can handle, and for those with very introverted personalities, this aspect of the job can become very stressful.
Stressed out by Sightings? Here are some tips to consider:
Have an easy-to-use response at the ready: “Hi! How are you and your critters doing?” This can work in almost any situation!
Watch for clues: Nametags, charm bracelets, cell phone background images, and items in a shopping cart can all provide useful hints to help you identify who you are speaking with.
Lead the conversation: Use the location as a diversion. For example, if you run into a mystery client at the theater, ask what movie they are seeing and if they have read any reviews.
Run your errands during non-peak times: This can decrease the potential for interaction.
Take a drive: Use business locations away from your practice area and enjoy the solitude as you travel.
Commute: Living in a community different than the one your practice serves may just provide the extra layer of solitude required to keep you loving your profession and keeping your stress level in check!
Staying Physically & Mentally Fit Through Vet School
Vet school is undoubtedly one of the busiest and most stressful times in your life. With all that you’ve got going on, it’s important to stay physically healthy and mentally sharp to get you through it all. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy.
- Simple steps for staying in shape
- How to overcome the feeling of sleep deprivation
- Improve those eating habits
- ...and more!