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Veterinarian Technician November 2009 (Vol 30, No 11)

Editor's Letter — Looking Inward

by Marianne Tear

    Writing this column each month has made me look closely at myself and discover what I find important in life; but looking inward is not always easy. Sometimes I find things that I don't like and should strive to change. I guess it is part of the natural growing process, but honestly, I thought I was done growing years ago.

    One of the biggest things I have discovered is that I am not an inwardly patient person. I want and expect immediate results from myself. I can tolerate slower outcomes from other people, but not from myself.

    This discovery—or more correctly, this epiphany—came during National Veterinary Technician Week. The Michigan Association of Veterinary Technicians hosted its annual fall conference to kick off the celebration. The theme was the human-animal bond, and we asked Management Matters columnist Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR, to speak about bonding clients to the practice. Katherine is a phenomenal speaker, and I used my presidential authority to make sure I moderated her talks.

    Typically, when given the choice between clinical presentations and practice management presentations, I choose the clinical ones because I can apply the technical aspects of the presentations immediately. While some effort is required to become proficient with the new techniques, they usually do not involve relearning behaviors or habits.

    In terms of client relations, I have to completely change the way I act and perceive situations. This is not for the weak or impatient. Perhaps one of the reasons I was drawn to emergency medicine is that there are no long-term client interactions. After the client leaves, does it matter if the practice connected with the client or if the client felt that his or her needs were met? The pet's immediate concerns are usually resolved—for better or worse—and then the client leaves.

    But were things handled in a way that made a positive impression? Does the client realize the technical skill that was involved in helping his or her pet? Or is the client upset because nobody took the time to explain what was happening as it happened? Clients in emergency clinics are often scared, stressed, and feel helpless. Yes, we took the best care of the animal, but did we remember how overwhelmed the client probably felt during the process?

    So, now comes the hard part; I need to try to understand things from the client's perspective more often. Don't get me wrong; I can be an understanding, sympathetic, and empathetic person—for a short time, and if I have a vested interest. Otherwise, I feel overwhelmed by emotion and start "circling the drain" of compassion fatigue. I need to begin evaluating my response to situations and try to see it from the other party's point of view, and then I can start the slow process of changing habits.

    Wish me luck!

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