Dear top dog specialist: Stop looking down on your colleagues


What do you do when the emergency and specialty veterinarians you work with are really, really snooty about their general practice colleagues?

 (Getty Images) Q. I've worked at an emergency/specialty referral hospital for almost 14 years. I also work at a general practice during the day. Because none of the emergency docs and specialists have worked at a general practice, they assume it's just puppies and vaccines all day. What can I do to change their negative attitude towards GPs?


I Want to Be the Change


Dear Changeling,

How about changing jobs and working at our practice? You sound terrific! How lucky that your emergency hospital has such an empathetic and emotionally mature individual on its team.

You know what you've got at your practice? It's called Snooty Syndrome. But before I provide you a remedy for this serious workplace culture illness, I want you to know you're not alone. In many practices, veterinarians or more experienced technicians lord themselves over the less-experienced members of the team. I'm convinced it's at the heart of the “Front vs. Back War” (I can't resist telling you, I'm sharing solutions to this at CVC conferences this year), and I know for a fact it's at the root of practice morale issues.

Aside from being odious and obnoxious, acting superior to others is a big honkin' sign of self-loathing and insecurity. Most people who point fingers at others and laugh and call names are doing so because they're hearing the same jeers inside their own heads.

People who pick on others, disparage them or treat them with disrespect would do well to work through their issues with a psychologist. I'm not kidding. I've interviewed enough industry psychologists and seen enough cases of Snooty Syndrome to believe that the issue is both deeply rooted and terribly self-destructive. In my experience, the Snooties are much more likely to have issues with drinking, relationship issues and depression.

But if you go to your Snooty and recommend a shrink, he or she is really going to hit the roof. I recommend plan B. Try organizing some terrific CE classes taught by your DVMs and their team members. General practitioners can always use the free CE, and if you ask your Snooties to provide the education, they'll have a chance to meet and get to know the targets of their derision. Putting a face on the people they universally dismiss as inferior may curb their snooty instincts.

Or, if you're older and more “over it” like me, you can just pull your Snooty aside and ask, “What gives? I'm concerned about the comments I hear you making about our DVMs. Can you talk to me about that?” I don't blame. I don't shame. I just open the floor to a discussion. Your seniority-while it's awful on the back, the mind and the eyes-gives you much more pull in the manager's seat.

Good luck, my dear changeling. I look forward to your metamorphosis into a lovely, if not fierce, creature of the skies!


Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and co-owner of Halow Tassava Consulting.

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