We should celebrate how multi-species knowledge, multidisciplinary work and amazing levels of client service help us outperform other medical professionals.
We should take a moment to acknowledge how awesome we are because it's easy for us to overlook. Because, let's face it, some people don't.
Photo source: Getty Images
It's like when I was in Taekwondo and someone heard that I did martial arts. They would get excited and ask, "Oh, wow! What belt are you?" And I'd reply, "I'm a brown belt." And the light in their eyes would fade as they said, "Oh." The unspoken reason was clear-if you weren't a black belt, it didn't count.
Now, when someone finds out I'm a doctor of some kind, they eagerly ask, "Oh, wow! What kind of doctor are you?" I reply, sotto voce, "I'm a veterinarian." "Oh," they say. (Of course, that's the response from people who don't need free advice from me in the moment.)
It sometimes feels like we're the brown belt of the medical professions. We're not “real doctors" or as I like to retort when that comes up, "Yeah, I'm the plastic kind."
Here's the thing we shouldn't forget: We're amazing! We populate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a slew of organizations for disaster relief, food safety and inspection, public health initiatives, environmental protection, zoonotic disease, food animal production, medical research, epidemiology and so many more!
Brown belts? I beg to differ. We're the 10th-degree black belt of the medical professions. We're the medical equivalent of the Swiss Army knife or the Ginsu blade-we cut through anything, even aluminum cans!
Outshining our human peers
Just think about how we outshine the human side of medicine within our own practices. Sure, a pet owner may wait a bit on occasion. However, we know for a fact we're going to wait a significant amount of time when we see our own physician-every time we go. And they aren't dealing with half the things we are, I guarantee you.
Your GP isn't doing a euthanasia in the next room before coming in to see you … or reviewing X-rays and blood work with a patient done the same day in the same facility … or seeing emergency walk-ins.
Our clients are much more likely to actually speak with their doctor or have the veterinarian call them about results. Clients even expect it. We don't expect that from physicians.
The fact that we call clients with results instead of charging them for another office visit to come in is another way we contrast ourselves with our other medical brethren. We spend a significant amount of uncompensated time with clients on the phone. We even dispense medicine from our own practice. Can you, as a patient, get anything done at your doctor's office other than an exam? Nope.
We juggle so many disciplines (with the help of our incredible staff) that our clients, as well as ourselves, take it for granted. It's just expected and assumed, but it's not appreciated.
So, take a moment to savor it, you awesome people in the veterinary profession! Take the time to acknowledge how much you do and how effortless you make it look. I think we can be too hard on ourselves. Can we always improve? Sure. But let's not lose sight of how we outdo our peers in the medical professions.
The next time a client makes you think you haven't done enough for them or something hasn't gone the way you hoped, and you're beating yourself up, just remember how much you already do and give yourself some credit. You. Are. Awesome!
A graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Dean Scott has enjoyed 35 years in the veterinary profession, including five years with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. He now practices small animal medicine at Animal Clinic of Brandon in Brandon, Florida.