Written by Michael W. Miller, DVM
I still vividly remember the first patient I ever as a new doctor. Years of training had led up to that moment. As I grabbed the file, I saw that it was a cat presenting for urinary accidents outside of the litter box. A quick discussion with the owner revealed that the middle-aged cat was also draining his water dish and food bowl more than usual. Even though this was my very first appointment, I knew what to do. My exam revealed a possible thyroid slip (or was that just wishful thinking?) The next step was bloodwork, and I was rewarded with an elevated thyroid level confirming my top differential diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Despite the nerves and self-doubt due to my inexperience, I used what I knew to conquer the case. It was a perfect reassurance that I was trained and ready to jump into my role as the new veterinarian.
As the next cohort of new veterinarians experience that delicate shift from vet student to doctor, I want to encourage all of you who read this that you’ve got what it takes! You have the training you need to make smart decisions, even if you have never actually faced these exact situations in the real world before.
You may feel as inexperienced as Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the first book… but you are also just as able to use what you know to face the obstacles in your way.
Even as first years, on Halloween the inexperienced trio faced a dangerous troll in a girls’ bathroom. They were not seasoned veterans at using magic, yet in that moment of peril they used what they knew to conquer that troll. “Wingardium Leviosa” – and the troll was knocked out.
New doctors facing their first experiences with patients have a few things in common with the trio’s encounter with the troll:
First, even without knowing everything, they still know the basics that are so important. The young wizards didn’t know advanced spells, but they didn’t need them. New doctors may not know all the little nuances of practice yet, but they don’t need them right away. Focus on the basics that you do know. That will get you through many situations. You may end up with troll bogeys on your wand, but you’ll survive.
Second, the most important part is to not panic. When you panic, you forget what you know how to do. Be like Ron. Despite all the craziness surrounding the situation you are in, focus on what you can do. A simple answer can be the right answer. A spell from first year can knock out a troll, just like how a routine exam and diagnostics can give you an answer.
Thirdly, you have got to look out for your friends. Making it through the first year of Hogwarts and the first year of your career is so much easier when you have friends supporting you. Harry and Ron had Hermione’s back. Hermione helped Ron with the simple spell (in the movie version). Likewise, as a recent graduate, you both need help and need to help your colleagues. No one else will understand what you are going through better in that moment than your friends who are at that same point in their career. Even if you feel isolated, there are plenty of options to connect with your friends and colleagues. Stay in touch with them. Use them when you need them. Help them when you can.
Veterinary medicine can be hard, but it can also be magical – and that magic can start right away! To all the new graduates out there: please realize that you are already magical. You are trained for this. You know what to do. Use what you know to defeat the trolls you encounter as you continue to discover the magic in veterinary medicine.
Harry Potter Vet
Discovering the magic in veterinary medicine