Mind Over Miller: Observations of a veterinarian's wife


I wonder if the loss of camaraderie and fellowship in the profession is due to the diminishing role of the auxiliary.

Recently I read a book of interest to all of us in the veterinary profession. It's a Dog's Life for the Vet's Wife (or My Husband Treats Me Like a Dog) by Norma Pauline Moore Boyd is an appealing narrative; as the wife of Dr. Leon Boyd of Savannah, Tenn., Norma Boyd has a different perspective on the profession. Several of the author's observations mirror my own. From the book:

As the number of veterinarians has increased, the closeness and fellowship of the veterinary family have seemed to decrease.

Dr. Robert M. Miller

I have noted the same thing. When I opened my practice in Ventura County in 1957—back when all but one of us veterinarians were in mixed practice—it was not unusual to have 100% attendance at our monthly association meetings. Today the meetings are poorly attended, and those who attend are usually the same core group of veterinarians.

In the early years of Leon's practice, there were very few specialists in the field of animal medicine.

This change is one I am grateful for, and one that I called for in print back in 1959.

I remember when a vet in one of the small west Tennessee towns was injured and unable to work for several weeks. His veterinary friends made out a schedule, and each one of them gave up one day a week from their own practice to work a day for the injured friend—without pay.

Similarly, back when all of us in the county were solo practitioners, one likeable younger man was hospitalized for several weeks. The rest of us each gave up a day to keep his practice running.

It is a high calling to be a veterinarian, and I consider it just as honorable to be the wife of a veterinarian.... Each time the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association met, so did the auxiliary—which was all women...a group that not only had a good time socially, but worked to promote the profession....

The male spouses of the female veterinarians (today) are not interested in taking part in the work of the auxiliary. With the gender change, there are not enough spouses to fill the offices and keep the auxiliary viable.

Too bad! The veterinary auxiliary associations have been an important support group for the profession, and I wonder if the loss of camaraderie and fellowship in the profession is due to the diminishing role of the auxiliary.

During my lifetime, our profession—like our nation—has advanced technologically. We have become more efficient, more productive, and more prosperous. But like our nation, we have lost some of the values and mores that made us great.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.robertmmiller.com.

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