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A dose of the best medicine


Veterinarians and team members alike can cure work woes with laughter.

Economy got you down? Three client conversations in a row go sour? Had a blind date with someone half your age? Well, my friends, you've come to the right place. I can cure most of your workplace—and maybe dating—ills simply by making you laugh.

Craig Woloshyn

What? You want me to prove it? OK, I will. But you must promise that when I do, you'll start promoting humor in your clinic. Follow my advice and soon you'll improve your outlook on life and even your ability to do your job well. Here we go.

Use only as directed

In today's politically correct world, you may be wary of jesting with co-workers. Remember, even though lawyers have tried to outlaw humor, they haven't succeeded. Of course, your humor should always be good-natured. You'll be fine as long as you stay away from politics and religion and don't make jokes at other people's expense. Except for lawyers. They don't have feelings, just bank accounts. (Please don't bother to e-mail if you're married to one.)

If your clients are jokers, include them in the good time—within reason. You probably shouldn't use the same humor in the front office as in the back, but lighten up with pet owners when you can. Here are a few icebreakers to get you started.

Penicillin is the wonder drug. When a doctor wonders what you have, that's what you get.

Don't worry. The doctor has seen an operation exactly like this on TV.

Miracle drug: Anything cats will take without puking.

I quit taking tranquilizers. I was starting to be nice to my in-laws.

Diet tranquilizers: You don't lose weight, but, then again, you really don't care.

The technician who grins when things go wrong is probably going off duty.

A laugh a day

As with many things, fun starts at the top. Help your boss set a comedic mood—or at least keep her disdain to herself—by pointing out the benefits of laughter. Afraid to approach your dour boss? Secretly slip this article under her windshield wipers or post it in the restroom.

If she doesn't take the hint or is still skeptical that it's good to laugh at work, send her to the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor's Web site, aath.org. Founded by nurses, the group advocates that every practice needs a healthy dose of humor to operate at its best. Another hilarious site to visit is the World Humor Organization's at chickenlips.com—need I say more?

If your boss continues to live in chuckle denial, don't be discouraged. You can still spread your infectious laughter throughout the practice. Remember, behavioral science tells us that you are how you act. So act happy, and see how contagious it is. Make a face. Crack a joke. Put a fake dog stool on the donut plate. Do whatever it takes to start the day off with a snort. And if all you get is a frown, just honk your nose and return to your task. But, for now, here are a few more ideas to get you giggling.

Put up a Funny Bone Board with witty jokes, silly rhymes, and hilarious photos.

Name the office equipment, and talk to it.

Keep bubbles, coloring books, crayons, and other toys on hand for stressed staff members to play with.

Photocopy your hand and write on the print out: "Need a pat on the back? Stand here." Tack the sign on a wall where everyone can lean against it.

Assign snazzy staff titles like Geriatric Client Care Coordinator, Computer Systems Commander, or the revered Queen of the Universe.

Bring props to every meeting: Funny hats, magic wands, Silly Putty, lollipops, ice cream, oversized pens, and so on.

Each week, appoint a new team member to be the clinic jester and keep everyone in high spirits.

Laugh at yourself. Self-depreciation is an effective source of humor that should be used more often.

We've had some fun, and I hope you've gleaned a few tips for bringing laughter into your practice. If nothing else, I hope you've learned to be serious about your work, not serious at it. Oh, and I'm really sorry if I've inadvertently offended anyone—except lawyers.

Dr. Craig Woloshyn is a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting in Custer, S.D. Send jokes, questions, and comments to firstline@advanstar.com

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