I have been home for all of 2 weeks and I’m already incredibly homesick for Virginia. I miss the WCV and all of the friends I made there (even those who left before I did). I know it will be soon enough before I am back in the state (physically, emotionally, and mentally) where I know I belong.
So I will not use this post to whine about how I am not in Virginia because I really am grateful to be back here in the good ol’ flatlands of Illinois with my family – honest! Instead I am going to talk about a man who, 2 weeks ago, was my teacher and mentor and is now no longer considered either as I have since graduated.
This man’s name is Dr. Eric Bergsten and he is one of the vets who taught at my school. He’s a pretty awesome guy; I owe him a ton of gratitude for all that he’s done for me. He wrote me one of the 3 letters of recommendations I needed to get into the WCV externship (thank you!). He spoke very highly of me when the place I used him as a reference called him inquiring about me (thank you!!). And he also was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from.
Dr. Bergsten deserves a special thank you from me for reasons I can only explain in the thank you letter I sent to him today:
May 16, 2016
Dear Dr. Bergsten,
First off I just wanted to say thank you so much for the past year and a half. I learned so much from all of the teachers at Fox College, however I believe I learned the most about patient care and animal compassion from you.
Almost a year ago I was having a tough time in my personal life and I was considering either dropping from the program indefinitely or at least postponing my education for a bit. I thought I had made my decision: I planned on finishing the term and then I would drop. I had made up my mind; that is until I went to one of your last lectures for the term.
The class you were teaching was “Emergency Medicine for Small Companion Animals”. In general that class was tough for me. Between the personal problems I was facing at home and memorizing all the potential toxicities for dogs and cats as well as studying various protocols for different emergency cases, I’ll be honest I struggled quite a bit as I’m sure many of my fellow classmates did as well. No matter the class nor the topic though, you always gave us all the information we required to prepare us for our future patients (and clients) regardless of the difficulty of the content. I thank you for never “sugar coating” the real world of working in a clinic setting.
I digress to the reason I stayed in the vet tech program: your last lecture that had been about different animal abuse cases you’ve seen throughout your many years in practice. You showed us some pretty gruesome pictures and you shared some even worse, unbelievable stories. The one that truly sunk in, however, and pulled at my heart strings was the case of the dog who was hit over the head with a shovel. That was such a chilling story and it was just as difficult to hear as I’m sure it was for you to recount. But I thank you for sharing that story with us on that day when I needed to hear it the most.
For the first time in many grueling months of long lectures and nonstop studying, I felt, for lack of a better word: needed. After hearing about what those animals had gone through at the hands of humans who were not so much as worthy of their loyalty nor their kindness, I finally started feeling the way I did during my very first term at Fox College. I realized that no matter the difficulties I was facing in my personal life, there was an animal in the world that needed an advocate, a voice, a friend. And after listening to you speak of just a small handful of those who needed someone to stand up on their behalves, I promised myself from that moment on I was going to do my best to speak for those who cannot – just as you have done for your entire career. Thank God for people like you and for every other doctor and technician at the Vet Tech Institute at Fox College.
To summarize, within a 45 minute lecture period and without saying anything more than what was necessary, you captivated the attention of 42 veterinary technician students and taught them an unforgettable lesson in both practice and in life: above all other trials we may face, be an advocate to those whom have no voice. That lesson alone is what helped me put one foot in front of the other that day and each day thereafter and vow to be as loyal and as kind as the companions we share this earth with.
Part of our job in this field is to humanely say farewell to those who cannot or will not fight anymore. Although that is something I will never fully be prepared for and I know will never sit quite right with me, I think that is exactly how I am supposed to feel. And I know that it is both the burden and responsibility we all share as professionals in the veterinary field, for we have each taken an oath “to alleviate animal suffering… conscientiously and with sensitivity”.
Dr. Bergsten, you did an amazing job preparing us for our futures as veterinary technicians and I can only hope that eventually in the course of both my career and each of my fellow classmates’ in cohort 11DV14 that we take shape into the diamonds you saw we could be 18 months ago.
I’ve recently come back from a job interview from a small animal hospital near Richmond, Virginia. I heard from the Drs. whom were interviewing me that you had some very kind words to say about me when they called you. That interview went extremely well and providing I pass the VTNE in July I could potentially have a job waiting for me in the state of our nation’s capital.
I cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve given me. Not just for the wonderful reference for the job in Richmond, but for also teaching me, encouraging individual thought process on case studies, instilling in me a sense of curiosity and joy for learning, and uncovering a deep mantle of compassion and empathy to which continues to push me forward with each passing day.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
All the best,
Thanks for everything, Dr. B – Cheers!