What Should You Not Joke About in Veterinary Practice?


Ray Ramirez, DVM, owner and speaker of Ramirezdvm.com, explains when it’s inappropriate to use humor in the veterinary practice.

Ray Ramirez, DVM, owner and speaker of Ramirezdvm.com, explains when it’s inappropriate to use humor in the veterinary practice.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“I would say, most of the time, one of the things that you really cannot joke about would be euthanasia. During that scenario. Every once in a while, you run into a situation where you can interject a little humor to give it a little levity, but most of the time, people are grieving [and] they need a chance to grieve. Usually humor is not a good thing to try and interject there. If you know the client really well, that could be a different story, but in the broad sense, that would be one [situation you would not want to joke about.]

Certainly, any time that you have to give a follow-up [would be another time not to use humor]. For example, if a client is waiting for biopsy results from some sort of lump, even though you are pretty sure it is benign, that is still always an anxious thing [for the client]. Because we are doctors, we are more comfortable with that than our clients, and so while we may realize that there is probably nothing to worry about [in that situation,] the clients are still worried about it. And, so, when you get the report and you call them up, that is probably not a time to joke, because they are still anxious. You and I, because we are so familiar with it, the familiarity [causes us not to be concerned.] But, for the clients, this is where understanding the audience [comes in.] This is their pet, they do not have a lot of lumps that they have had removed and so this can be kind of a scary thing. And so, that can be something that is not very good to joke about as well.

I would say probably the third [situation] where I will very rarely interject any humor is usually a post-op call. Most of us will call our clients after surgery of a pet to let them know how everything went and that they are recovering fine. Surgery [is also] an anxious time and [the client] wants to know right away that everything went well and so that is also a time, at least at the initial part of the call, that you certainly do not want to use any humor or interject anything that may be taken [in the] wrong [way]. Once you have said [for example,] ‘We just got done with Fluffy’s surgery. Everything went fine,’ and as you have let the tension down that they may be nervous, then you might be able to interject something if you were doing some other procedures or they had some other questions or things like that.

I would say that those would probably be the three most common areas of practice that [you should not worry about interjecting any humor.]”

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