We were on an emergency call treating a mare displaying signs of colic several weeks ago. We were accompanied by one of the younger veterinarians who work at the clinic. Typical of the young veterinarians at LEQMC this doctor was very intelligent, very capable at all procedures performed on this mare, and very polite to the clients and fellow veterinarians. After we completed one of the necessary procedures the client, who was nearer my age than my fellow veterinarian, commented how pleased she was with the treatment we had provided. New graduates are now trained to treat the basic colic differently than I was trained in the early days. This client had had horses for many years and had become accustomed to her horses being treated more like I had grown up treating colics. She was more comfortable with older methods. As we discussed the differences in treatment methods, my young associate made the comment the difference in technique was largely generational.
Generational. Treating a colic as I was used to was generational! Just what did it mean, generational? I have treated hundreds of colics during my career. I have confidence in my ability to access physical signs and treat appropriately. Should I be so confident when employing my generational approach? I could ask my young associate what she meant by the comment, but I’m sure my question would embarrass her. She is very intelligent so I am sure her assessment would be fair but she is probably too polite to tell me if her answer was negative.
Shortly after Kathi and I left our single-veterinarian practice to join Littleton Large Animal Clinic, I experienced personal doubt regarding certain ways I approached veterinary cases because my techniques were sometimes different than those employed by other clinic veterinarians. I asked one of the practice owners if I should change my routines to perfectly match others at the clinic. He asked me three questions: how long had I practiced, if I had what I thought was at least average success with cases and had we had a successful practice with satisfied clients. I answered in the affirmative to all questions. He said it seemed obvious to him I shouldn’t change unless I thought any of the different approaches were worthy of change.
Here’s a fact of life: change is inevitable. Most of change is good, but not all change is welcomed. During all the years I have pulled my veterinary coveralls on and put a thermometer and stethoscope in my pockets, I have witnessed both good and bad change. Some turn out to be fads that are discarded in a few years but all of us have to face change and either accept or discard it. From time to time all of us need to pause from our daily toil and honestly evaluate our ability to properly perform the duties of our vocations. This is a healthy part of personal growth, the way we stay current and propagate life-long improvement. I am grateful for that comment on that summer day from a representative of the future of my profession, my young colleague.
So were my methods generational? Maybe, and many of my practice habits will probably not change. But on this day I prefer to focus on trans-generational habits. Habits all veterinarians at LEQMC have: Prepare ourselves to be current on available technology that is used daily in our profession. Take that knowledge to our patients, the horses, as we provide to our clients the best service we possibly can. Be the best veterinarian I can be. That’s trans-generational!