Teamwork makes the dream work
A letter from Adam Christman, DVM, MBA
Have you ever walked into the clinic just as someone yells out, “Oh yeah! The Dream Team is on today!”? Nothing gives you greater pleasure than hearing those words because then you know that things will go smoothly regardless of any emergency, hiccup, or nuisance that may present itself.
Veterinary medicine is truly a team-based discipline, and we need empowered team members who feel appreciated. As we celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week, we need to celebrate the entire team—from the customer service representative who communicates bad news to the manager who ensures that the hospital is being steered in the right direction. The veterinary technicians, technician specialists, and assistants triage patients, provide care, and communicate with the numerous players in our profession. Groomers, kennel assistants, and students contribute great insight and expertise to the field. Veterinary medicine is vast and wide, and offers something for everyone.
But I want to give a special shout-out to our technician specialists and technicians. Having been a technician myself before becoming a veterinarian, I appreciate the amount of physical and emotional strain it can place on a person. I recently witnessed the fortitude and strength of the veterinary technicians at NorthStar VETS, in Robbinsville, New Jersey, when my dog Carl went down in the back end. (Yes, he unfortunately got the dachshund memo). I was heartbroken to see him so confused and in such pain, and immediately went from doctor to dog dad in need of consolation. The love and empathy the technicians showed me and Carl were unparalleled. They comforted me even without knowing how much I needed it.
When Carl was able to go home after his hemilaminectomy, the technician said, “I’m going to let Carl take the lead on this, Dr C.” She opened the treatment door slowly, and out came Carl in all his glory, wiggling his butt and strutting down the hallway! I hugged the technicians and thanked them and the whole team for their support.
I am glad that this year’s theme is self-care and work-life integration. I have said this before, but it’s worth saying it again: self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. We must make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves so that we can do our best for the animals that need us. Please look after yourselves and look out for one another. And take some time to show your gratitude and appreciation.
Thank you to all veterinary paraprofessionals for your fortitude and hard work. Thank you to the technicians and assistants for the care you provide patients and the support you give to clients and coworkers. As longtime NBA coach Phil Jackson said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” And that is the beauty of veterinary medicine.