*OK, I’ll admit, this title is pretentious.
But stick with me here. I don’t pretend to actually be able to make this apocalyptic worldwide shutdown into an affirmative self-improvement experience. BUT I do know that some fancy psychologists somewhere report that positive thinking leads to positive being. And so, I have endeavored to show why I think that us veterinarians, do in fact, have a lot to be thankful for during a pandemic. Let me count the ways.
1. We’re essential
Truly, this is a big positive. The fact that we even get to work right now is huge. My husband is a dentist. It turns out sticking your hands into the breathing orifices of other humans during an onslaught of a respiratory virus is not advised. And so, he has been stuck in our 1,500 square foot apartment for 8 weeks, collecting unemployment checks, and watching videos about how to suit up in full PPE for his eventual return to treating the human mouth. While I have occasionally been envious that he has gotten to play approximately 1-million hours of video games in the last two months, in the end, I am just so incredibly thankful that I have a job to go to and a paycheck to collect.
2. Curbside service
As one of the very few businesses whose clients are not humans, we have the unique ability to provide our services without strange people entering our workplace. I have cracked a few jokes about how my clinic should move into a Taco Bell to expedite our curbside service. Instead of “can I take your order?” it will be “can you tell me how long your dog has been vomiting?” That could be followed up with, “OK please drive up to the first window and hand us your Maltese and we’ll have him feeling better in no time!” While curbside service comes with its own challenges, it is pretty great that we can do our job fully and minimize human contact. No other medical field can practice without significant direct human contact and the associated risk.
3. Social interaction
While things inside our clinics have changed, it is pretty cool that we still get to see other people. We may be wearing a mask all the time, staying six feet apart whenever possible, and even working in teams, but I for one feel lucky I get to see my coworkers every day. Many of my non-veterinary friends are working from home and the only other human beings they get to see face-to-face are their spouses, kids and grocery store clerks. From what they tell me, this is tiresome. The biggest moments of levity in these last few months have been moments spent with my team. My techs, receptionists and fellow vets have done wonders to keep my spirits up.
4. We know science
Imagine trying to decipher the endless stream of information about COVID-19 without any medical or scientific training. It is confusing and disorienting regardless, but at least we started this knowing corona could, in fact, refer to a virus and not just a case of beer. We understand the importance of research, peer review and solid science. We understand ELISA tests, vaccine protocols, and ventilators. This may be a new disease, but if we can pass a board exam that covers everything from wet tail disease in hamsters to erysipelas in swine then we have to be some of the best-prepared people to wade through the random medical facts coming at us from every direction.
5. Growth through the challenges
This one might be more of a stretch for some. But if you’re being really “glass half full,” then any challenge is just a chance for growth and improvement. Maybe it’s that your clinic added telemedicine, maybe it’s that you had to improve efficiency, or maybe it’s simply that this time made you focus on your priorities. But I for one am hopeful that our profession will actually grow through these difficult times.
I know the risks of the Coronavirus are real. And I do not say any of this to undermine the absolute scariness of these unknown times. I hope everyone is washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks. And I think it’s completely normal and OK to be sad, frustrated, confused, and afraid about this all (I certainly have been). But I also hope that at least for a moment, we can also find the spots of positivity shining through. And I hope we can all be thankful to work in veterinary medicine through it all.
Love and good thoughts to all my fellow vets.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Sarah Hagen is a small animal, general practice veterinarian in Colorado. Her favorite part of veterinary medicine is the moment when she feels an owner truly understands what is going on with their pet’s health. Sarah loves reading, cooking and yoga (though she’s mediocre at the last two). She has an awesome husband and a terrible, grumpy cat, both of whom she loves dearly.