I recently watched Dr. Andy Roark's speech on joy vs. happiness in vet med. It's brilliant and offically one of my favorite videos. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and clear 5 minutes of your schedule to do so.
In his speech, Andy talks about the fact that life - that happiness - is made up of suffering. It made me think about not only how we have chosen to suffer, but who we suffer with.
In many ways, those of us who are in the veterinary profession are very similar. We all have scars, and I’m not just talking about the the dog bites and cat scratches that physically mark us all. I'm talking about the other scars; the type you can't see. The patients we've lost, the unfair online reviews, the feeling of being unappreciated while doing a very difficult job.
These scars aren't pretty, but they’re something we all share. We have all chosen to suffer the same way. The really good thing about this? We get each other. We speak the same language. We can make jokes about anal glands or share stories about really awesome abscesses. We appreciate the gallows humour that makes it easier for us to survive. We can cry with one another and express our frustrations knowing that we won’t be judged, because those around us have felt the same way during their career at some point. The suffering we've experienced in this line of work brings us closer and has built this amazingly tight knit community.
I was sitting in a Toronto Greyhound station early in my career and started chatting with another passenger. I asked her what she did for a living and she replied in her lovely Kiwi accent, "You probably won't know what it is, but I'm a veterinary nurse in New Zealand." Just like that, there was a connection between us. An invisible thread that tied together our experiences which had happened a world apart. She told me about her sea lion patients and I shared stories of anesthetizing Canadian wildlife during my externship.
This connection, I think, is one thing that makes all the crappy parts of our career worth it. Don't take it for granted. Keep the connections alive, keep the conversations going, always be there to say thank you and to support each other. I want to wish all of my fellow veterinary technicians and nurses a very happy vet tech month. I know I wouldn’t want to suffer with any other group of people by my side.