Few phrases have the power to shoot a wave of dread through my body, but, after working in the veterinary industry, the following phrases do just that every time I hear them.
The phrase: “We’re so glad you’re here!”
What it really means: The veterinary hospital where I’m working relief that day is so busy and behind that I’ll be lucky if I get a lunch break.
The phrase: “I have to run that by my breeder first.”
What it really means: The client feeds a raw-food diet, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to get permission to vaccinate her animals appropriately.
The phrase: “He doesn’t really like strangers.”
What it really means: I’ll be lucky to keep all my fingers.
But, no statement is as migraine-inducing as “We’ve always done it that way.” Why, you ask?
Think back to a time before the age of “modern medicine.” A time of:
- Trephination (drilling holes in the skull to let out the evil spirits)
- Using mercury as a “magic elixir”
If we had never pushed the boundaries of what we knew, adopted the practices that worked, and left behind the practices that didn’t, we would still be drilling holes in the skull to let the evil spirits out.
Even now, we can see examples of what happens when that motivation to push forward is lost. For me, there is no better example of this than one famous TV veterinarian (who I won’t name here). Time and again, I have cringed while watching what myself and many others have considered to be substandard medicine. He and his colleagues have been brought up before their state’s medical licensing board and have been placed on probation—all for different cases, including one involving a patient who died. For each of these cases, part of the resolution put forth by the board is required additional continuing education hours. The punishment for contributing to preventable deaths is more education.
It’s frustrating for me, and I’m sure for many others in our field, when we have the tools and information to save more lives and improve the quality of life for all our patients, and our colleagues don’t utilize them.
That’s why “we’ve always done things that way” is such a dangerous concept. If a medical practice is perpetuated without intelligent thought as to why, we end up lost in the dark ages of veterinary medicine, and that’s not good for veterinary professionals, pet owners, or the pets we’re supposed to be helping.
This is the first blog post of a four-part series. The posts to follow will focus on how to perform your own research, how to evaluate the quality of it, and how to present it to the decision makers at your practice so you can affect positive change.
Erin is an ECC specialty certified technician living in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. She shares her home and heart with her boyfriend, Bradford, and their chatty kitty, Kevin. While dangerously close to a workaholic, Erin and Bradford still find time to travel together. Erin also enjoys being an amateur home chef, taking photographs, and riding her horse, Katie. Professionally, Erin is passionate about the subject of technician empowerment.