Macauly Gatenby is a third-year SVN who is serving on the Mind Matters Taskforce as the British Veterinary Nursing Association’s student representative. He has a strong passion for all aspects of mental health and wellbeing and hopes to use this opportunity to support and give a voice to all SVNs and RVNs.
Towards the end of 2021 Mind Matters Initiative held a Student Veterinary Nurses Wellbeing Discussion Forum. MMI has recently published the highlights and key outcomes following this event. Firstly, I wanted to highlight how empowering the Mind Matters Initiative Student Symposium was. I walked away feeling inspired and motivated knowing others were in the same situation and mindset as myself. I strongly recommend to anyone who is able to find the time to attend any of the events hosted by MMI, as you will certainly walk away with a stronger sense of community and obtain fundamental tools to equip you both professionally and personally.
What really resonated with me is the mindset of taking an hour out of your day to celebrate all the small victories. In practice this can be as simple as taking your break on time, something so insignificant in our day that should be celebrated as a big success, and let’s not shy away from our own individual achievements regardless of what they may be. I feel this mindset could and should have a ripple effect throughout our industry.
We are still going through tough times socio-economically. I feel that we need to own the current situation as our new temporary permanent, otherwise we will let the inevitable negativity and burnout consume us, meaning when we do take back control we can pull together to permeate positivity throughout all aspects of our lives. I know, I eye-rolled at that sentence too, but I feel it is important to think like this when experiencing difficulties, especially during an unusual situation such as our shared experience of the pandemic, otherwise we will be stuck in an endless cycle of negativity which will take a toll beyond our professional lives. And it is important to remind ourselves as students, but also as registered veterinary nurses, that we are extremely valuable and more than competent enough to continue making positive, essential differences in our industry. However, this requires us to make or highlight the necessity of change.
I say this in the most positive way to everyone, including myself, because as a student I feel it is increasingly important not to succumb to self-doubt, because we are more than capable individuals who are the future of the profession. And this is something that I am only beginning to learn myself. By attending this event I have developed such a sense of pride and hopefulness by being surrounded by like-minded and dedicated individuals who have allowed themselves the opportunity to show the compassion and care amongst one another. Sadly we sometimes need reminding of this in our industry.
What was apparent, and made abundantly clear, is that sometimes students face the brunt of many issues, and sometimes we can all be made to feel like spare cogs in the machine, especially whilst juggling all our demands such as working, studying, socialising whilst trying to somehow fit in some level of self-care. However, now more than ever, we should feel the sense of being an important component of the machine, after all, we have the opportunity to absorb and spearhead powerful changes not only in individual practices but across the profession and industry. So I urge all students to take 20 minutes in your day to highlight all your victories and to remember them with pride, because this might just be the reminder of why we chose this profession and why our struggles throughout studying will be worthwhile.