Today is a very big day for Dr. Autumn. I had a Barbie floating around that looked like her, but I couldn’t bear to put her in the standard Barbie vet getup, so in her honor I created a pair of slightly more appropriate scrubs.
Hold on…just a couple more things here…
Ah. Much better.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with her previously, as Autumn, the awesome technician, but today is the Big Day for her: her first day as Doctor Autumn, practicing veterinarian.
I know she knows the basic cardinal rules of veterinary medicine: don’t mix prednisone and Rimadyl, don’t give Baytril to young puppies, don’t let your clients name their pets Lucky, etc, but I thought I would take a moment to pass on a couple other pieces of advice that for some reason they always seem to skip over in vet school.
1. Don’t introduce yourself by your first name. That works when you are distinguished, old, and grey to put people at ease, but when you are young and new, people see that as an invitation to talk to you like their neighbor’s teenage daughter. You are Doctor Autumn, and only Doctor Autumn.
2. Never let your perceptions allow you to avoid offering the best care. True, many people will decline that best care, and you will have to prioritize your choices, but make them make that decision. The second you allow yourself to make that decision for them- oh, this guy will never say yes to x-rays-, it will become a habit, and before you know it you aren’t offering the best care even when the person wants it. You can never tell which client will approve your estimate. (Remember the lady with the flame-red hair?) You’re not offering the best because you’re trying to rack up a bill. You’re offering the best because that is what you would want offered to you. No matter how many times people accuse you of the former, remember that just because they say it, doesn’t make it true. Be compassionate, even if they are transferring their guilt onto you. It’s easier to be mad at you than at themselves.
3. Make sure the back area is well stocked with lint brushes. If you wear black pants, you will see all Persians and Akitas. If you wear tan pants, you’ll see all black dogs. It’s a law.
4. Even when it’s 3 pm and your surgery waiting area still looks like this:
Buck up, at least you have a job, and how wonderful that all their owners trust you with their care.
5. Never fail to treat a euthanasia room with quiet reverence. This is a moment the pet owner will never, ever forget. Especially if they hear you in the back area laughing and joking around before you go in to see them.
6. The last is this: We have a stressful job. An emotional, sometimes heartbreaking, usually frustrating job. It makes it easy to forget that we also have an amazing job, as a surgeon, pediatrician, radiologist, internist, and hospice care worker. We are blessed to be where we are.
Best of luck to you, Dr. Autumn, and may you have a long and wonderful career.