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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Catch-up Blog #7: Reader Understands The Difficulty

I normally try not to be one to toot my own horn, and I don't typically post emails from readers who are simply giving thanks or praise.  But in this case I thought it was worth sharing.  This is from Alhana.
I am a student aspiring to be a veterinary technician (I can't do the 8+ years it would take to be a real vet) and I stumbled across your blog today while doing research for a project on how owners should react to emergency situations, namely something getting stuck in a dog's mouth.
I ended up reading through some posts and the comments on them. I just wanted to say you are a champion. I love that you are a vet willing to speak honestly to pet owners about what it's like to be a vet and not afraid to push back when they criticize you for "not giving enough information" and "just telling them to see their own vet". Two years has put me from one of those "why can't they just tell me what to do!?" owners to "oh... that's really complicated. There's no way you could or even should diagnose that over the phone". I haven't worked in a clinic yet, but even trying to talk to my family and friends about their practices regarding their animals is like trying to pull teeth without any pain-killers on board. They think they're qualified to behavior train and treat their animals just because they've had animals their whole lives, and that re-using three month old liquid Clavamox is completely fine.
Also, it is very nice to hear that I'm not the only one who doesn't understand the misconceptions owners have about their animals or how they lack some common sense in general. Or how they don't understand that you have a million things to sift through to come to a diagnosis. Or how every case is different. Or how important it is that THEY follow a treatment plan.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for being an honest and awesome vet.
Why did I share this?  Because she understands the dilemmas that I go through when dealing with clients, and especially when dealing with people on this blog.  Comments I make or responses I give are actually pretty normal in the veterinary profession.  Most clients don't realize this, but I've worked in and around small animal vet clinics for 30 years now, and believe me, my opinions and attitudes are shared by the vast majority of veterinarians.
As I've said before, part of the reason for my blog is to pull back the curtain around veterinary practice and show people the true "Wizard of Vet".  Vets are as human as the rest of you, and yes, we do talk about clients.  Sometimes it's in a very positive, praising way, and sometimes it's not.  Think about your own job and the frustrations you've had with vendors, staff, customers/clients, and so on.  Think about how you and your coworkers have talked about people that drive you crazy or that have done something wonderfully awesome.  Yes, vets do the same thing.
It's also not easy being in a profession like this because owner compliance is horribly low.  People don't follow restricted activity directions, stop medications too soon, self-medicate, and plenty of other things, usually without telling us.  Then they get upset when the treatment plan doesn't work, even though they've significantly altered it.  I've gotten used to it and can handle it better than when I first graduated, even though it still frustrates me as much as it ever did.  Being in practice for 17 years and being a blogger for nearly six years had helped me develop patience and a thick skin.
Alhana, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for "getting it".  I know that I'm not the only vet who appreciates people realizing what we go through.