When I first began practicing, it took about three months before I got tossed out on my own. My clinic had opened up a satellite
office and sent my "mentor" over to staff the place, leaving me at the main clinic with a few other veterinarians. Within
one week, the new clinic's entire staff threatened mutiny if they were forced to work with the guy one more day. So off I
went to be a solo practitioner at the satellite—an agreement that, had I known what I was getting myself into, I would never
have agreed to.
Granted, I have a bad habit of rushing into things. That's how I ended up in veterinary school—but that worked out OK. I've
decided that being the overly cautious, risk-averse type that I am, when faced with adequate information, the only way to
take a chance in life is to go in with inadequate information and hope for the best. I call it the "too stupid to know better"
Pedal on, people
It was in this spirit that I decided to take my new mountain bike out for a spin recently. As I practiced gear changes, circling
the driveway on my shiny new wheels, it occurred to me that there was a good chance I would end up pushing my bike back home
with either a flat tire or a broken ankle—but it was a risk I was willing to take.
I spent a good amount of time huffing, puffing, cursing and screaming at branches I mistook for rattlesnakes as I skidded
by them. By some miracle I emerged, dusty and unscathed, 50 minutes later having covered probably a mile or so of trails.
I later spoke about my misadventures with a friend whose husband is into mountain biking. She told me he bought her a $1,500
bike and took her out, where he proceeded to chastise her bad form so much that he eventually left her behind as she sat on
the curb, crying. And she hasn't ridden since.
Ditch life's manual
That's a perfect analogy for many of my colleagues who have left the veterinary profession, convinced of their insurmountable
inadequacy. Sometimes it's better to muddle through without knowing how badly you're doing.
So far I've done a ridiculous amount of things in life the wrong way—raising kids, mixing white wine with red meat and so
much more. You name it; I've messed it up. That being said, constructing life without an instruction manual has been immensely
rewarding for me. So I guess I'll just keep soldiering on and see what happens—though I suspect I'll benefit from a tire repair
kit somewhere along the way.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang is a regular contributing author for a number of well-known publications, including dvm360. This article originally appeared as a blog on her popular website http://pawcurious.com/.