When someone chooses the veterinarian profession, the first thing that comes into mind is providing care for pets. Little do they know there is more to it than just caring for animals. Now more than ever, emotional and mental health in the veterinary profession has become something of a concern. Many veterinary professionals are so deeply immersed in their career that they forget about the serious consequences work obsession poses to their health and wellness.
For Dr. Jessica Turner, this is no longer the case. After struggling with disordered eating, anxiety/depression, Postpartum Depression (PPD) and even losing a friend to suicide, her life was turned upside. Despite being in and out of the hospital for 3 months before the arrival of her twin girls- Adalynn and Annabelle- now six, she never lost hope. Instead, she made the biggest decision of her life- quitting the veterinarian field altogether! With this decision, Dr. Jessica decided to pursue her passion for helping other people who are trying to improve their health and fitness.
Just as is the case with most of us, Dr. Jessica did not see herself walking away from veterinary medicine, let alone doing anything else. The more Dr. Jessica shared her story with PPD/anxiety and depression together with how health and fitness plays an important role in healing, the more she yearned to help others. Now she is fully focused on helping people get healthy.
This is a decision she does not regret one bit- especially since she now has the opportunity to help colleagues make wellness their priority. And more is yet to come.
Dr. Jessica has something else to share with us. She is now running for Ms. Health and Fitness 2020 title and has the chance to appear on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine if all goes well. Regardless of how the competition goes, she will still have participated in something that celebrates women from all over the world sharing a passion for health and fitness.
For Dr. Jessica, this is just but a start, and better times lie ahead. With the inspiration she gets from her dad, who is an emergency medicine pediatrician, and her mom, Jessica is never going to look back in her quest of improving health and wellness.
We caught up with Dr. Jessica to learn more:
Most agonizing career decision I ever made:
The most agonizing career decision I ever made was to leave the field. I never intended to step away from veterinary medicine. I never saw myself doing anything else, especially after sacrificing so much time, energy, and money to do so. I honestly “fell into” coaching as more of a means of holding myself accountable because I was terrified of letting myself go as a priority again. But what I found was the more I shared my story with PPD/anxiety and depression and how health and fitness were playing a role in healing/management, the more I wanted to help others avoid the place I had been. Over time, I discovered a love of serving people through their health and fitness specifically moms and other veterinarians. It’s been over 3 and a half years since I ultimately made the decision to step away from practicing veterinary medicine. I don’t regret it one bit neither do I regret becoming a veterinarian in the first place. I have the opportunity to help so many of my colleagues with making their wellness a priority because I understand the unique struggles they face within this profession (in addition to everyday life demands). It has been an absolute honor to be able to play a role in their lives so they can continue to find joy within veterinary medicine.
Books that left a last impression on me:
“You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. This was my very first personal development book once becoming a coach and it allowed me to see myself in a totally different light! The reason I want to share it with my veterinary colleagues is the role it played with me having the confidence in renegotiating my contract and asking for a raise while I was still practicing. The content in this book allowed me to see the value I brought to our clinic and the right I had to ask for an increase in pay because of that value. I would have never believed in myself enough to do such a thing – and get it I might add – before reading this book!
Who I most admire:
I’ve always admired my dad. He came from an extremely poor upbringing where he was constantly told by family and teachers that he would never amount to anything. He proved them wrong and graduated at the top of his medical class and is now one of the most respected emergency medicine pediatricians in Louisiana. His work ethic and ability to make a way despite being told there was no way has always been an inspiration of mine. On top of that, he never once made me feel like I had to follow his footsteps. Even when I played around with going to college for visual arts, he supported me (along with my mom) the whole way. They also supported me when I decided to leave the veterinary field and couldn’t be happier for their daughter.
What’s the biggest problem facing our profession today:
There are many problems facing our profession today but for me the most critical is mental health awareness. This subject is near and dear to my heart, I lost my friend to suicide, she was my roommate in veterinary school. I would say it is one of our biggest mountains to climb.
There are so many factors that tie into this problem but I think so much boils down to an inability to admit that we don’t have it all together and we need help. We are the “fixers” so it’s very difficult for us to take a step back and admit that we need attention ourselves, whether that comes in the form of therapy, consistent exercise, daily gratitude, or an extended vacation. I think so many are treading in water that they can’t seem to get their heads above but if they had a hand to grab onto – and actually took it – they would be able to get to a place where they can breathe and find the joy in the profession, and in life, again.
My mission in life:
My mission in life is to share my story in such a way that it gives others hope for better days, permission to dream big, and a joy that is everlasting despite what is going on around them.
As someone who has personally struggled with disordered eating, anxiety/depression/post-partum depression, and has lost someone to suicide, I have a passion for mental health advocacy especially within the veterinary field. This is why over half of my clients are veterinary moms. They are often the ones who are hanging on by a thread wishing someone would throw them out a lifeline. I strive to be that lifeline.
Where do I see myself in 5 years:
I will be celebrating 10 years of health and wellness coaching, serving thousands of moms all over the country many of which are veterinarians themselves, while mentoring other coaches in doing the same. I have a vision of making health and fitness easily accessible and affordable within the veterinary community as a means of battling burnout/compassion fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
I want to be a published author, sharing my story of living a life behind forces smiles until I finally hit my breaking point and discovered how to embrace who I am.
In all honestly, the sky is the limit for us all. I just know I will be still sharing my life boldly through social media, my website, and more as a means to remind others that they are not alone and capable of much more than they think!
You can help Dr. Jessica win Ms. Fitness by voting for her
Photo credit: Malerie V. Photography (https://maleriev.com/)