Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Practice Makes Perfect--May 19, 2008

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Practice Makes Perfect--May 19, 2008

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Get a hobby

My name is Kevin Fitzgerald, and I am a small-animal veterinarian in Denver, Colo. I have been asked by the nice folks at Veterinary Medicine to put together a weekly blog about small-animal medicine in the new millennium. I am not the most computer-literate person. To me, the word blog seemed faintly obscene, and I had to ask someone what one was. I am from the ’60s, and the new world with its new words--words like blog and podcast--seem positively foreign. Nevertheless, I acquiesced and will happily write a weekly account of life in the trenches and life by our code.

Veterinary medicine is a harsh mistress. The rewards she grants are spectacular, but her price is high. We must stay current and must continue to grow, but it seems that we learn best from our mistakes. It is a new type of monastic life. We must constantly study, strive to absorb new facts, acquire new skills, and rededicate ourselves to our oath. Still, the gifts we receive are astounding, and the direction in which veterinary medicine may take our lives is fantastic. Last November, I was lucky enough to go with a group from the Denver Zoo to the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba. This February, I went with a group from the North American Veterinary Conference to the wildlife of Antarctica. I have been like Forrest Gump, in the right place at the right time.

It is a taxing life, but veterinarians that I have known to be the most successful all have a secret. They have a hobby. They have a hobby that is nothing like their work, has nothing to do with veterinary medicine. They fish, play tennis, or play music. Some take photographs. Others paint. While they do their thing, no one is sick, no one is scared, no one is crying. It is their time, purely selfish and indulgent. It is time to recharge their batteries, rest, and regroup. I am older than a lot of you, younger than some others, but I can tell you this: Get a hobby. You’ll be better for it (and so will your clients, patients, coworkers, and family). Totally get into it, and maximize your downtime. Work hard as always, yes, but breathe and live. Don’t let them grind you down.

See you next week, Kev