Episode 69 | Reality Check: 5 Widely Accepted Vet Med Beliefs that Block Our Potential

In this episode, I discuss 5 Widely Accepted beliefs about Veterinary Medicine and how these beliefs block our potential both individually, and as a profession as a whole.



  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Compassion Fatigue
  • Workplace Toxicity
  • Education Debt
  • Veterinary Suicide


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00:00:00 Widely accepted beliefs about imposter syndrome, compassion, fatigue, toxicity, educational debt, and suicide, and how that blocks our potential. That's what we're talking about in episode 69. I'm Dr. Cari Wise, and this is the Joyful DVM Podcast. Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 69. Today's episode is a bit of a reality check. So if you're new to the show,

00:00:35 I'm Dr. Cari Wise, Veterinarian, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Quantum Human Design Specialist. And today we're going to be talking about five widely accepted that med beliefs, that block our potential. We're going to walk through each of these five beliefs, and I hope you stick with me till the end, because by the time we get there, you're going to have a completely different perspective about what's possible in veterinary medicine,

00:00:57 through the lens of these five belief systems and how you can change them for yourself. Those five belief systems have to do with imposter syndrome, compassion, fatigue, toxicity, educational debt, and suicide. Let's start out and take a look at compassion, fatigue. So compassion fatigue is the decreased ability to empathize or feel compassion due to emotional and physical exhaustion.

00:01:21 It's sometimes referred to as the negative cost of caring, and it can be a secondary traumatic stress. So it's that point when we just kind of start feeling, stop feeling all of our feelings when we just really become numb. I think that's a way that many of us veterinary professionals describe compassion. Fatigue is just feeling numb to all of the things that happen around us.

00:01:42 Many of us believe that compassion fatigue is inevitable in veterinary medicine. That if you do this job long enough, that you will suffer from compassion fatigue. And this is a belief system that I want to allow you to release here. And now the truth is compassion. Fatigue is not inevitable in veterinary medicine, but it becomes inevitable when we don't take care of ourselves.

00:02:05 First, what happens is that we take on responsibility for how everybody else feels. And when, when we believe we are responsible for that, then the discomfort associated with a lot of the aspects of our job just tends to amplify. As a result, we tend to avoid emotion and we become trapped in a belief that uncomfortable emotion is something that needs to be solved for.

00:02:29 So compassion fatigue does become an evitable for us. If we just don't understand what's happening, we have to first take care of ourselves. We have to create that space for us to process our own emotions for us to explore and understand what's coming up for us and why it's coming up for us instead of just taking in and amplifying all of the emotion of everybody around us.

00:02:50 And that's what tends to happen. We take it all in. And because we also layer that with a level of responsibility for the emotion that's occurring, we then start to feel very overwhelmed by the intensity of all of that emotional energy over time, our coping mechanisms don't work so well. And we start to numb ourselves to just disengage and disconnect from what's happening day in and day out,

00:03:14 the physical and emotional exhaustion compound. And then that becomes what is known as compassion, fatigue, but it's not inevitable. And it isn't the negative cost of caring. You are not set up to experience compassion, fatigue, just because you care deeply for your clients and your patients. Being a compassionate person in a service-driven industry does not set you up for this experience.

00:03:37 That's something that most of us just don't recognize because we hold as a belief system in veterinary medicine. That because we care that because we are compassionate, that because we are in highly emotional situations, day in and day out in our job, that compassion, fatigue becomes inevitable. And I promise you, that's not true when we take care of ourselves. First,

00:03:56 when we release responsibility for the emotions of other people, and we stopped trying to avoid all of our emotions and feeling trapped in those emotions, then we can start to actually experience all of it without the judgment and without the conclusion that it should something that should be solved for, and me compassion fatigue, results, absolutely dissipate, compassion fatigue. Doesn't have to be the inevitable consequence.

00:04:22 And it takes us proactively understanding that to keep it from becoming so number two, imposter syndrome, many of us believe that imposter syndrome just comes with this job. Imposter syndrome is when you feel like a fraud, when you start to believe that everybody else knows more than you do and does a better job than you do. When we are experiencing imposter syndrome,

00:04:45 we feel doubt. We feel fear. We feel inadequate. And as a result, we conclude that we are inadequate. All of that comparison to other people really has us believing that they're better and we're worse that they are doing a great job and that we're doing a terrible job. We also notice how other people seem to have all this confidence. And we don't.

00:05:06 We turn this all into meaning something is wrong with us that we're not cut out for this job. And that if we didn't feel so crummy, that we would then have a better experience, that the feeling crummy and the job means we're not cut out for the job. But what we miss is that this is a totally normal experience that this idea of imposter syndrome is something that every single human being experiences,

00:05:30 and it really comes along. And every single profession, you take a profession with a bunch of high achievers in it like veterinary medicine. Then that potential for imposter syndrome is really, really high and experiencing imposter syndrome. Isn't really the problem. It's when you believe the imposter syndrome, and you build that into what you believe about yourself, there's where it becomes a problem.

00:05:51 Number one, we are taught to compare ourselves to other people. That's why this imposter syndrome thing comes up so easily for us. And this is something that as a culture, we are taught, we are taught to compare, and it starts very, very early with our grades. So any of our schooling, where there are grades awarded that automatically sets up a system for us to compare against other people to be better or to be worse.

00:06:13 And that in itself sets us up for a lifelong evolution of constant comparison and not measuring up to whatever the high level is that we are trying to reach. We create an expectation that there is something that we should be doing, that we are not. And when we get out into the real world and there isn't something tangible like a grade to achieve, then it's very normal for us to automatically compare to other people.

00:06:41 And then to conclude that we are not as good as they are, this really plays into number two, which is our fear of not being good enough, that fear of not being of measuring up. So if we think back to our academic careers and when we have these tangible ways to measure, and we evaluated our performance and our success by a grade when there's not the grade that we wanted to get,

00:07:01 if we didn't get a grade, that was good enough, whatever that high level is, we were trying to achieve. We start to automatically conclude that we aren't good enough that we're not measuring up to what we should be doing. It starts again, like I said, through all of our academics from a very young age, and you take that and you put it into the real world where there's not any academics to put parameters around.

00:07:21 It. It's very normal than for us to look at how other people are behaving to determine that they are better at it than we are, that they are happy because they are successful. And because we are not happy, we must not be successful. We must not be cut out for this job. So it layers onto this comparison and expectation of not being good enough.

00:07:40 And that's another part of the makes this imposter syndrome thing. So hard, you take those things together, and then you have to think about the reticular activating system, which is the third point here underneath imposter syndrome, reticular activating system, as a quick reminder, is that part of your brain, that programs, what it brings into your awareness, your conscious awareness,

00:07:57 our brain is always looking for cues from us as to what is important. So if we're spending our time thinking about how we're not measuring up and comparing ourselves to other people, and that's all through the lens of being inadequate of not getting a high enough grade of believing that we must achieve in order to be worthy and successful, that our minds, just going to gather evidence to prove that true.

00:08:20 So you can go in with all of the skills that you need with the exact amount of confidence that you're supposed to have. And if you haven't intentionally programmed your reticular activating system, to tell your brain to consciously, bring it into your awareness, your successes, and how you are doing a great job and how you are completely equipped to do this job and to be in this career,

00:08:40 then it's not going to offer that information to you automatically. We have a long history in our lives of having programmed our minds to find where we are inadequate, and that will continue in our careers unless we start to retrain our minds to look for something different. So just keep in mind that that's going to work against you, unless you intentionally reprogram it.

00:08:58 And it's going to add to this experience of imposter syndrome. And the fourth point I want to make here under imposter syndrome is that when we believe that feeling doubt and fear and inadequacy means that we need to fix something or be better, that really holds us back again. This is something that we're taught from a very young age, that bad emotion, uncomfortable emotion,

00:09:18 negative emotion is something to be avoided, something to be solved for something that means there's something going wrong. There's a lot of reasons behind that part of us, this lower primitive brain and just our instinctual side kicking in. But the bottom line here is that we need to understand that feeling discomfort does not mean something's going wrong. That all uncomfortable emotion does not need to be solved for as it's very normal.

00:09:40 We get into our veterinary careers that we feel uncomfortable, that we feel afraid that we feel uncertainty and doubt it's all part of this profession, but it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It doesn't mean that you're not cut out to do this job. And it doesn't mean that all the other people around you aren't experiencing the exact same things, just because they're not telling you that they're afraid or they're feeling doubt or confusion or uncertainty doesn't mean that they're not.

00:10:04 We're all just humans here in a human experience. And I promise you, they are also experiencing those emotions. It's just whether or not we believe those emotions are something to be solved for. And we believe those emotions are holding us back that create that stacking consequences of imposter syndrome. Bottom line, when it comes to imposter syndrome, the belief system that imposter syndrome is going to hold you back in your job.

00:10:25 That's one that you can let go because imposter syndrome is totally normal. And as you dig into it, learn to understand what's underneath it. It actually can help propel you forward into your potential. Now belief system, number three, that we widely believe here in veterinary medicine is that Batman is full of toxic people. Clients, coworkers, bosses, managers,

00:10:45 organizations, you name it. You can come up with an area that you would identify as full of toxic people. And we also believe there's some unicorn practices out there. You know, those practices where people are happy and they feel supported. And with that, we believe that those practices are few and far between and our chances of landing. And one of those practices is slim to none.

00:11:03 That being said, all of this fosters hopelessness. So this idea that work-life balance and career satisfaction are nearly impossible. That's what we believe because we believe first and foremost, that veterinary medicine is full of a lot of toxic people. And that it's really hard to be happy here. The truth is that medicine is full of people, just people, people absent of the adjective.

00:11:28 As soon as we start to label them with negative adjectives like toxic, the whole concept of the people becomes not useful. And it actually gives those people power over your own personal well-being let them be people don't let them be toxic people believing they're toxic. People holds you back. We want to remember to be aware of what our reticular activating system is doing to program.

00:11:53 What is brought into our conscious awareness. If we are constantly looking at our coworkers, our bosses, our organizations, through the lens of toxicity, if we're constantly on the watch for toxic people, then we will find that that's an absolute truth. We will find them a 100% of the time because we've told our brain that it's important to find those and to bring that to our attention,

00:12:14 but it blocks everything else that's there. And it keeps us from recognizing that absence of the adjectives that we give them. All of these are just people, people with their own stories, their own emotional situations, their own wellbeing, and that they're going to interact with us from their own personal place. We don't have to make it so personal. So what do we do when we're all caught up in this whole belief system that we are working in a toxic profession or in a toxic job or we're toxic people?

00:12:41 The first thing we do is just analyze our environment. Let's get really strategic about this. That way we can actually identify what we want and what we want to change. Remember, you can't fix a problem that you don't understand and your current job just may not be a good fit for you. That's okay. That doesn't mean the career was a wrong choice.

00:13:00 That doesn't mean there's not a possibility to find the perfect fit somewhere in the future, but you're not going to be able to find all of that until you start to slow it all down, pick it apart and understand exactly what's happening rather than just explaining it all by toxic work environment. Because that my friends leaves you at the effect of the environment and takes away many,

00:13:19 many of your choices. Remember not all that mad jobs are supposed to be for you. You're going to find your right fit. And you only can do that through trial and error and understanding each one of your experiences along the way. A third thing that we can do to help combat this belief system of toxicity and veterinary medicine is just to be really curious about what triggers us as we increase our personal sense of self value.

00:13:44 And self-worth, we will become more confident and resilient. Remember hurting people, hurt people. So if you take care of yourself first, you can actually become a positive example of what's possible inside of our profession and in life in general. And as you're doing that, as you're learning more about what gets to you at your core, what sets you off,

00:14:05 what hurts you? You'll also be able to understand what is happening with the people around you. You'll have a greater level of understanding and compassion for the toxic people, the people who you're blaming for ruining your career right now, you'll be able to have compassion for them and realize that the way that they behave has nothing to do with you, that you can set your own boundaries.

00:14:25 You can create for yourself what you want in your experience. And you can live through an as an example through that, which will help everybody else that that's not full of toxic people. My friend is full of just people and people like in any other profession or have a lot of stuff going on. We are complicated beings and our behaviors can be labeled as toxic,

00:14:47 but that doesn't make it factual. And as long as we keep seeing other through these labels, rather than through the absolutely worthy and valuable humans, that we are, it's going to make everything harder. A fourth belief system is that educational debt is bad and that you can't really have a life until you get it paid off. A lot of us are believing that as long as it exists,

00:15:08 what's possible for us is limited. Here's the truth about money, money and debt are neutral. Money's a man-made thing. It has nothing to do with yourself value. It has nothing to do with your worth. Nothing at all. Our culture has taught us to measure our value and worth through a dollar amount and our money stories run very, very deep.

00:15:30 But what's true here is that the amount of student debt that you have has absolutely nothing to do with your potential. And what's possible for you. You haven't limited yourself by going to school and accruing debt. It's not a problem. It's a man-made thing that has no true innate value to it. It's just something we made up to be able to exchange goods and services.

00:15:50 So you can start to release that money and debt are neutral. Number two, remember yourself, value on safety are not determined by your bank balance by your salary or by your debt to income ratio. A lot of us tie our safety to our dollars. It's a very interesting thing. It's a very long seated money story that comes from generations before us,

00:16:10 in our own families and our own areas of influence. We would just want to really allow ourselves though, to disconnect that the money is neutral and that our self-value and our own personal safety are not tied to that. Number three, we want to really understand that our beliefs about money are learned. So everything that we believe about money, about debt, about volume of money,

00:16:34 about making money, about salaries, all of that is learned belief, which means we can unlearn it just because we believe it right now. Doesn't mean we have to always believe it. We want to be curious, where did it come from? And we want to be able to decide that for ourselves. Number four, when we clean up our own money story.

00:16:52 So all those belief systems, all the connections that we make between money and value and worth and safety and such. When we clean up our entire money story, we stopped being triggered by money. So what it means is all the conversations that we have about money. And we have lots of opportunity to have money conversations in our lives, in our personal lives,

00:17:09 in our career lives. He'd talk about treatment plans and all that. When we clean up our own money story, all those conversations get easier. We stop getting triggered by them and we stopped getting offended. When other people make decisions about how to use their money, that don't go along with what we think they should do. A K when somebody decides not to agree to what you put on their treatment plan.

00:17:28 And they use money. As the excuse, many of us feel a combination of offended and ashamed and triggered. Whenever a client declined something and they use money as their reason, that's a whole other podcast as to whether or not that's even true as far as their reason. But the bottom line is this. They get to decide what they're going to do,

00:17:45 and you don't need the money piece to play into what you recommend. The way that we can do that confidently is by cleaning up what we believe ourselves about money. The educational debt is not a problem. Your salary is not a problem. There's always opportunity to make more money. There's always opportunity to pay off the debt if you want to. But the existence of that educational debt does not hold you back.

00:18:06 And it's not until we dig into our own money story, that we can often release that belief system. And it's a belief system that for many of us is so ingrained that we are really believing that our lives are going to be limited because we chose this career path and we accumulated that student debt. So you want to just start to blow that up a little by little,

00:18:22 start, letting money be neutral, uncover your money story, and realize that all of our beliefs around money are learned and can be unlearned. And we get to decide that for ourselves. When we do that, we stop living as victim of our financial situations. All right, widely accepted belief. Number five has to do with suicide. The widely accepted belief is that vet med professionals have a high rate of suicide.

00:18:45 Now I'm sure many of you heard that and right. Carry that's a fact. I want to break this down though. Just stick with me here for a minute, because I want to really unpack what I'm talking about here. When I say that this is actually a belief system, it's not a fact. What is a fact is any historical statistical information that we have.

00:19:03 So, any moment before this minute in time, when we can look back and we can look back at suicide rates by profession, and we can do a comparison, there may be a conclusion drawn. The veterinary professionals have a higher rate than other professions. I'm not going to argue with historical data. That's true years of statistical evidence does not make this statement true for the future.

00:19:27 That med professionals, having a high rate of suicide is not something that we have to experience moving forward. We do not need to live as if that is our absolute truth. Historically, we have seen that to be true, but the way that we continue to talk about it as if it is absolutely inevitable as if it is what it is as if it is a fact,

00:19:49 and it's one of our most dangerous beliefs, because the way that we talk about it has us believing that we don't have any control over its existence. We start to believe that we don't have any control over our choices, and if we don't have any control over our choices, we don't have any control over our wellbeing. When we look at our veterinary careers and we accept the belief that as veterinary professionals,

00:20:12 we will have a higher rate of suicide. That is what we will create. We do not need to believe that we absolutely don't. And we are the only ones who are in control of our own emotional wellbeing. What we need to do is we need to stop creating more crisis level solutions. And I want to just take a minute here and say,

00:20:29 I am so thankful for all the crisis level solutions that we have because they have absolutely saved lives. We've got some solutions out there. We've got things that we can do when we get to crisis mode. But if we want to change this for ourselves, if we don't want to look back 10 years from now and see that statistic still being true, that veterinary professionals have a higher rate of suicide than many other professions.

00:20:51 If we want that to be different, the solution isn't to keep creating more crisis level solution, the solution is to get in front of it. And that starts with what we believe about it. It starts with just one person at a time changing what they believe about the potential for suicide in our profession, the crisis level solutions they don't get in front of the problem.

00:21:09 What we want to remember, if we think about the think, feel, act, and I'm going to really simplify this. And I don't mean to offend anybody, but I want to just break this down to the most basic of basics. When it comes to human behavior, remember, think, feel, act the things that we think about create our emotional feelings and our emotional feelings drive our actions.

00:21:27 This is true in every single situation in our entire lives. Every action that we take is driven by an emotion that we are experiencing, or a group of emotions that we are experiencing and emotions are created by what we think in our minds. It's the sentences in our minds that create our feelings emotionally. It's not what happens. What happens is neutral. It is factual framework.

00:21:48 It's what we believe about the factual framework that creates our emotions with that in mind, suicide is an action think, feel, act so. Suicide is an action, and it's an action. That's driven by emotions like hopelessness and inadequacy and shame and guilt and insignificance, or feeling like a burden it's being, it gets compounded. Then by those other things that we've talked about,

00:22:10 it gets compounded by compassion, fatigue, and imposter syndrome and toxicity in our beliefs about our money. All of that together creates a whole series of thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and conclusions in our minds that creates then all those emotions, those emotions like hopelessness and inadequacy, shame, guilt, insignificance, burden, fear, anxiety, stress, all those things together.

00:22:34 And then those emotions drive an action, which could be suicide to change that for ourselves. We change how we feel to change how we feel. We change what we think and what we believe and what our opinions are and what our conclusions that we're drawing in every situation. But as long as the dialogue remains, the veterinary professionals have a high rate of suicide because of toxic clients and work environments and imposter syndrome and compassion,

00:23:02 fatigue, and high debt and low pay. As long as that remains the dialogue around veterinary suicide, then it does become inevitable. This statement shows us that we are accepting these things as a normal part of our profession. And when we accept it, our life will be compromised by it. It's one of the most dangerous sentences that we have and in an effort to protect each other from suicide in this profession,

00:23:28 we have actually unintentionally created a belief system that being in veterinary medicine means we will be in a population at a higher risk for suicide. We have forgotten that, although there may be historical data showing that that was true at a point in the past, it does not mean that it has to be true in the future. When we stayed those words today,

00:23:49 veterinary medicine has a high rate of suicide. At that point in this moment, it's an opinion, and it's an opinion that we have the opportunity to change for ourselves. It's not a truth. So how do we break free from that influence of these beliefs and how can we enjoy our lives and our careers and live into our full potential? That's the real question here.

00:24:08 Right? So this entire episode has been around these five belief systems in vet med that are really holding us back and blocking our potential. What we believe about imposter syndrome and compassion, fatigue about toxicity and debt and money and suicide. Those five belief systems, because we have a general common system of beliefs around those five topics. What we believe about those things is absolutely holding us back when we buy in to the general consensus,

00:24:35 but how can we move away from that? How can we break free from the influence of those beliefs? So we can enjoy our lives and our careers, and we can actually live into our full potential, really comes down to two things. Number one, first and foremost, form your own opinions. If it's a sentence, the believing it is optional.

00:24:54 If it doesn't serve you and it doesn't serve the life and career, you want then find a different perspective and act from that one who we've got to just refuse to believe that there is a common narrative. That's absolute fact, we have to refuse to become another statistic. And we have to decide that we and we alone get to decide what's possible for us in our own lives.

00:25:16 Just because you're part of a profession that has a collective opinion about a lot of really difficult subjects does not mean that you are required to accept that collective opinion. And unfortunately, in our efforts to support each other, what we have unintentionally done is built onto that belief system. That overall as a collective is not going to help us move forward or to evolve in this profession.

00:25:39 So number one, form your own opinions, listen to other's perspectives. Absolutely. And then come back and ask yourself, does that serve me? Does that move me forward in my life? And my career, does this belief help me or hurt me or hold me back? If it doesn't help you, then there's an alternative perspective out there. It's just an opinion.

00:25:56 As long as it's a sentence it's optional, you get to pick a different one and remember, think, feel, act. It is the sentences that create your emotional feelings and your emotional feelings, drive your actions. So decide for yourself what you want to believe. Please do not just blindly accept what people have told you is inevitable in this career because I promise you it's not true.

00:26:15 And I promise you, there's lots of evidence that this is not true as well. If we will just start intentionally looking for it. And number two, you've got to prioritize yourself. We carry our past traumas and fears and inherited belief systems about ourselves, about ourselves value, our self worth, our capability, our lovability, et cetera, and our belief systems about what's right and wrong about what's safe about what's responsible.

00:26:39 We carry this everywhere we go until we decide not. So we must individually do the work to explore all of this for ourselves. As we dig through our belief systems, as we release our traumas and our inherited beliefs, we will build our own new foundation from which we can thrive in all areas of our lives, not just our veterinary careers. And we can do that no matter what we face,

00:27:03 but we must do this individual work for ourselves because it is our own individual traumas and fears in our own inherited belief systems that make up so much of this, our collective veterinary belief systems absolutely stack on top of that and cleaning up that will make a big difference. But if we don't take time to prioritize ourselves and understand the other drivers underneath all of it,

00:27:26 the things that we're carrying around from past traumatic events and things that scare us and what we believe that soul level about who we are about our worth and our value and our lovability. If we don't take the time to really work on that for ourselves, then it's going to be very hard for us to have a foundation that we can thrive from. This work is not impossible work.

00:27:48 They're my friends. It's something that we all face at some point in our lives. And the sooner that we do it and prioritize ourselves and prioritize, letting go of those traumas and those beliefs and building our own, we start to move forward at a much more rapid pace and everything becomes possible. So what do we do next? How do we get started with this?

00:28:06 I've given you a lot of tips today really comes back to questioning everything, form your own opinions. Don't just blindly accept anything that you've been told about. Anything, decide that for yourself and decide for yourself whether or not it helps you move forward or not. Depending on when you listened to this. I've also got a free masterclass coming up. So as I'm recording this,

00:28:23 it's at the end of December of 2021, and I'm getting ready to release a new masterclass series on how to create infinite possibility in your own life and career as a veterinary professional, even if you're totally burned out and questioning your decision to pursue a veterinary career in the first place. So if you'd like to join me during one of those masterclasses, just jump over to joyful dvm.com/masterclass,

00:28:46 and you'll be able to sign up for one of the live sessions. I'd love to see you there in one of these masterclasses, if you can make it great. If you, can't not a problem. If you catch this after the fact, totally fine. Just go ahead and still jump over to joyful dvm.com forward slash masterclass, because it will redirect you to the most current offering that I have as far as the educational things for you.

00:29:05 But bottom line here, as we close out this episode today, I want you to just start questioning everything. The reality check is this. There are five widely accepted vet med beliefs, and they hold us back. It's what we believe about imposter syndrome, compassion, fatigue, toxicity, educational debt, and suicide in veterinary medicine that contributes greatly to holding all of us back individually in our careers.

00:29:27 And overall as a collective, as far as the evolution of this profession, go through this again, take some notes. Look, I gave you lots of information on how you can start to change all of this for yourself right now. And my friend, you're the only one that can do that. The time has passed for us to wait for somebody else to clean up the messes in veterinary medicine.

00:29:44 We clean it up for ourselves. One person, one intentional decision at a time, and you are absolutely equipped with the power within you to do that. All right, my friends, that's gonna wrap it up for this episode. I hope to see you in the masterclass have a great week.