I admit, sometimes I feel like a lone wolf out here in the veterinary world, wandering aimlessly in the backwoods of Facebook while my more distinguished colleagues do things like invent CPR simulator dogs and dart rhinos and perfect orthopedic surgeries. I, on the other hand, put aside the glory of a specialty and focused on becoming the best GP I could be. I did it quite well. I treated untold ear infections, spayed I don’t know how many dogs, and saved too many carpets to count from the ravages of an upset stomach. I saved lives. I said goodbyes. It is an intense career.
It is an excellent career. But sometimes life catches us in its inexorable current and drags us downstream from where we thought we were going ashore; sometimes it’s by design, other times kicking and screaming, and sometimes we are just cluelessly looking at the sky without realizing we’ve gone off course, but wouldn’t you know it, this new place is pretty cool too so we go with it.
I’ve found myself in the latter category this past few years. Writing was an itch I tried to scratch, but instead of making it go away the itching has gotten more and more pronounced until it’s taken over everything else. Yes, this blog is like a bad rash I can’t stop scratching, and I like it.
It is hard to explain to your colleagues in a room full of tie wearing suits that yes, I spend a lot of time on Facebook and blogging and I Instagram dogs for a good part of the day but it’s all done in the service of the veterinary community. What can I say? I like what I like. I’ve honed my strengths, and unfortunately they’re not what, in the context of a professional medical organization might be considered high minded or perhaps even respectable, but they are what they are. Sometimes I write to entertain myself, and sometimes I write to serve a cause, but I always do it because I love it.
Some see me this way.
And others see me this way:
But I’ve had a hard time convincing my colleagues that no, really, I’m one of you! Like it or not!
I’ve gotten used to being politely ignored by veterinarians who just don’t know how to process what this is that I do and find it easier to excuse themselves than to try and understand what a blog is. I get it. I expect it, actually. Which is why I was a little alarmed when Dr. Andy Roark, a well known and well respected speaker on the topic of veterinary practice management, suggested we meet up over coffee at AVMA in August.
Panic set in. What am I going to say to this guy? I don’t know anything about practice management. Is he going to lecture me about the need to do more educational videos highlighting proper application techniques for topical flea medication? Is he going to ask me about monetizing a blog? Is he just looking for recommendations for a good place to go to dinner in San Diego? I went, because, well, it’s coffee and I never turn down coffee, but I was nervous. Intimidated.
What could a veterinarian who writes about professional and business strategies possibly have in common with me? Other than the DVM, I mean.
Well, plenty, actually. Mea culpa. After I figured out this wasn’t a secret “you need to be more serious” intervention attended by four of my closest veterinary friends holding a pair of khakis and a white coat, I realized that Dr. Roark was actually a really cool guy. There’s a point to this, I promise.
The point is this: This led to more conversations about social media strategies and the relative merits of vimeo versus YouTube, and of course once the hamster wheel started spinning I also started with the whole “OMG have you ever heard of World Vets” because that is sort of my thing these days. One thing led to another and before you can say “three french hens” I was sitting with Dr. Roark and Dr. Dave Nicol, another amazing veterinarian and practice owner from Australia, in the lobby of the Marriot shooting a video to promote the World Vets Veterinary Textbook Drive. Dr. Roark came up with the video concepts, recruited Dr. Nicol, and donated his time at the CVC conference this weekend in San Diego.
Any vet who will draft a script, trust me to edit it and allow me to drag him all over a strange town to help a relative stranger with their own pet project is, in my book, aces. And I haven’t even shown you the other video yet – a THIRD veterinarian, Dr. Hoolihan over at Pacific Beach Veterinary Clinic graciously allowed me to shoot in his hospital without even having met me before that day. That video will be up after the holidays. It’s even better than this one.
I have to give my colleagues credit. I really thought there I was the only veterinarian out there who would do something like this. Publicly, at least.
Who knew my fellow vets were so awesome? See what the world would have missed out on had I been too Alan-like to want to meet a new friend over a latte? Tonight, we make a toast!