“It’s going to be hard, but it’ll be good.” My mind replays these words on occasion. They are the words of my boss, spoken within the first couple hours that I was officially hired at the practice. It’s a truth we were both aware of. I, and any other veterinarian, know the exhaustive list of contributing factors that make this job and it’s associated experiences hard. If each veterinarian was asked to list specific, presiding challenges they face in this field, and the lists were compared…we might not even be able to tell which was ours. What I’m trying to say is that these challenges are innate, and something most vets probably saw brewing even in the early days of Vet school.
I only just stepped into my life as a mobile vet, and even though I don’t know the details behind specific circumstances and situations I’ll face in the future, I have a long list of categories they can fall under. Physically exhaustive and dangerous work, professional adversity with the other trades, ethical dilemnas, intrapersonal disappointment and frustration, interpersonal conflict in the work-place, the steep learning curve, the fact that medicine is not black and white, long hours at work, few hours with family, demands of being on-call, financial crises, thankless clients, tragic cases, avoidable and unavoidable mistakes, colleague judgment, discrimination in the work place, straightup weather, the fact that in some cases there is no right or wrong, the uncertainty of the unknown or “learn something every day” theory….all based around the same subject matter, animals and the people that are with them. It can go on and on, and I bet regardless of profession, everyone has a couple of those things on their list too.
The list is not a surprise, and reciting it helps me accept it’s evitable…but doable. It’ll be hard, but it’ll be good. This is all leading up to my reason for today’s post. I got blindsided with a different challenge this week that has me a little panicked, a little frustrated and quite a bit uncertain on how to approach the issue. What to do when you are comfortable with the way you do something, but your mentor wants you to do it their way. And not just one habit, but an entire protocol.
For example, jugular veinipuncture. Needle up or needle down? I learned needle up and became proficient after 3 years of working with research animals prior to vet school. Comfortable, efficient, confident. Vet school reinforced needle up. I restrained myself to do needle up to appease clinicians who were passionate about this technique. I was aiming for no more ridicule than absolutely necessary in school. Then, I started my internship. The insisted on needle up. So, I resorted back to my original technique. Now, I’m in my private practice position under the initial professional guidance of my mentor. Can you guess what the veinipuncture technique is? Needle down. And what started off as subtle cues to changing the technique, has become an assertive suggestion. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way in this case. And if one way was so blatantly wrong, then I doubt that over 50% of veterinarians would do it that way. So…I think I’ll take my standard “sponge” approach to learning as many different ways to accomplish the same thing, because you never know when you might need it. For now, I’ll revisit the needle down…but once I’m licensed, with my own patients, I think the best way for me to do it is with the technique that I’m best at. This accommodates my mentor (by not doing something that makes her uncomfortable), helps me practice and become more skilled with a different method, and I’m okay putting my personal preference to the side.
Yes, the veinipuncture example seems miniscule and obsolete….but the challenge is in changing the way I do something based on someone else’s preference. I just never expected to have to change something so second-nature at this point. For all the things I’m unsure, inexperienced or uncomfortable at..I value the advice, suggestions and tips of my mentor as if it were gold. Albeit far-fetched, I can’t help but feel like a character in a movie when someone asks them, ‘everything you think you know about anything, is a lie.”
A bit dramatic, considering the whole thing is centered around the tiny act of drawing blood. I honestly didn’t give the whole needle up vs. needle down thing too much attention or concern…until I faced the same challenge, only this time it wasn’t based on how to draw blood from a jugular vein. It was based on how to work up an emergency colic. Which, will be the subject of my next post.
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