© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
Is collegiality dead?
You can break the isolation barriers our society has built
It was a crisp fall morning in the Midwest. The angled light shining on the roadside maple trees made them glow as though they were lit by some unknown internal energy source.
What a glory! Just experiencing the morning gave John Templeton a warm,nutty satisfaction-an inner glow so often felt in autumn.
As a member of his state veterinary medical association program committee,John had just spend a grueling but satisfying day with colleagues at hisveterinary alma mater hammering out the details of a spring meeting.
John suddenly realized that he was just a few miles away from a veterinaryclinic that he had worked in a number of years ago. His former partnerhad sold the practice last year to a young lady just a few years out ofschool. John decided to drop in and meet his colleague, have a "looksee" at a hospital that had been the backdrop of numerous triumphsand frustrations.
He would also like to encourage her as a colleague. It took about 15minutes to drive off the interstate.
John noticed the client parking lot was empty with only a small pickuptruck parked in the staff lot in the back. If the doctor is in, his timingwill have been perfect. He certainly couldn't expect to see the owner quicklyif there were a lot of patients to see.
Opening the door, John was transformed back 20 years. It seemed thateverything in the waiting room was just as it had been. The unique smellsof the practice still lingered in the air and stirred the synaptic chemistryof John's memory. John noticed an increase in his heart rate in anticipationof seeing his former practice. John waited for several minutes because noone was apparently at the front desk.
"Anyone here?" queried John.
A young lady in her 20's casually walked to the front area in searchof some item and ignored John.
"Hello, is the clinic open?"
Apparently surprised that someone was here, the woman responded laconicallythat it was. She continued with her search.
"Can I talk to the doctor or tour the building?" John meeklyimplored. "I used to work here for many years in the '70s and evenowned part of the practice."
The lady looked at John and stated that the doctor was busy in the back,but that she would look into it.
After a futile search that seemed in slow motion, she slipped to theback. All was quiet.
Several minutes passed and John's stomach informed him that the noonhour was approaching.
The lady emerged and said that Dr. Jones was too busy to see visitorsright now.
John innocently asked, "Is she in surgery?
"Oh no, she is on the Internet paying bills. She also said thatyou cannot tour the practice."
"Did you tell her that I used to be a veterinarian in this office?"I lamented.
Without even engaging my eyes, she blandly said, "Yes I did."
John was dumbstruck. It was too much to even comment on.
Dr. John Templeton drove away. The warm and nutty autumn feeling of ashort time ago had vanished.
This story was adapted from a real life experience that the author hadtwo years ago. Is this an isolated incident? Someone might think so, butI again had a similar experience not very long thereafter while trying tovisit a "colleague" in another part of the Midwest.
Colleague and collegiality
The two words above are originally from the Latin meaning: ones chosenand bound at the same time as another (together); those joined togetherin a common cause and duty-friend and cohort. It implies those with thesame privileges and duties and is, in part, derived from the word "college."Webster's defines collegiality as "cooperative interaction among colleagues."
Some questions that need to be addressed concerning collegiality:
* Have we moved on in this profession to a point where we haveisolated ourselves into our own private world of veterinary medicine?
* Has veterinary medicine now evolved into a post-collegialityera?
* What kind of factors may be leading this profession to the conclusionthat others within the profession are either competitors or irrelevant totheir practice life?
* What, in fact, is a colleague--and is there value to collegiality?
* Can we move forward as individuals in this profession walkinga high wire without a net?
* Do we owe our colleagues anything once we graduate from veterinaryschool?
Hopefully, what follows will try to answer some of these questions andget this issue out on the table where it belongs.
A wall of indifference
Regardless of the type of practice, the Internet and the frenetic paceof life have contributed to the isolation that we all feel in society.
The information highway has made it easy to seek answers to questionsin the profession via the sterility of computer modem.
Can there be a need to go to a local veterinary meeting where by definitionthe subject at hand is limited to one or two speakers?
Can there be a need to drop in on a colleague to discuss issues withinthe profession?
Consequently, the art of veterinary medicine is more and more learnedin isolation or only in conjunction with other veterinarians working withinthe narrow confines of a given practice. This art is now, in large part,learned by mistakes and misfortunes that arise from daily interaction ofman and animal. The missing ingredient consists of the stories and learningexperiences that can be cultured within a networking environment with experiencedveterinarians. The nature of society has changed our attitudes to each other.Many view this life as a competition-and thus colleagues are those who practicemore than 50 miles away