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Time needs to slow down just a touch

Today is the white coat ceremony for the second year class. I remember that day so well last year, and I remember thinking, "What on earth am I getting this white coat for? It will be forever until I am in the clinics; I mean, I understand the symbolism, but I am still going to be sitting in a classroom for a while," etc., etc. Now I just want to slam on the breaks because we will be in the clinics in a short 30 days, and even though they say we are ready, I am hesitant. It is now time to leave the comfort of our padded chairs, PowerPoints, dark classrooms, coffee breaks, naps, and basic hermitage in these walls right outside the clinics, time to enter into the public eye and work with owners to help their pets be happy and healthy.  It has also been more evident over the last few weeks that the clinicians are teaching us differently. They are not focusing on the books and what those books say about diseases; they know we can read at this point. They are focusing on how to interpret what owners say, how they answer your questions, and how to translate the owner's "throwing up" into either vomiting or regurgitation; "diarrhea" into small bowel or large bowel disease; "not urinating" into post-renal azotemia, etc...

I feel like we are traveling full circle. I came into to vet school with a certain vocabulary that has been changed and expanded upon through my classroom studies. We were warned that we are about to learn a new language that no one will be able to understand when we graduate, so we need to learn how to communicate with owners and forget these words that we spent $120,000 to learn. I will admit, I have been a skeptic; I thought it was impossible for me to learn a new language, and I have never had an issue communicating, so I thought I would be fine. Somewhere during this third year I had forgotten my former language and can only speak "veterinarian." We spent three years learning to forget how owners speak with us. Now in these last four weeks before clinics, we are having to relearn that sometimes what owners say is not what it sounds like, and how to ask the correct questions so that owners understand us and we can get the information that we need to effectively and efficiently treat their pets.