Friday, January 20, 2012

Answering the Critics

In reading some of the comments here, I have discovered that we are uncaring, unfeeling, uneducated evil bastards who are the sole cause for the downfall of our profession. It seems we've been busier than I thought, no wonder I'm so tired. It's hardly surprising, since we are Veteran Aryans.

I'm only one of the writers here, but I do read all the posts. They can all be boiled down to five words. Let us do our jobs.

We were quite passionate when we went into this profession, and still are. It's a hard profession, where we deal with life and death of beloved family members. It's hard at the best of times when you have to deliver bad news. We knew this going in, and accept it.

What drives us absolutely batty, and the reason for this blog, is the needless suffering we could have prevented. Pets dying of preventable diseases. The hit by cars that weren't on a lead. "But he's never been hit before." I've never been shot before, But I don't want to try it. The breeder/feed store guy/internet information that's flat wrong, and leads to pet's suffering. Needlessly.

Yes, we tell these stories, and do so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Why? All of us are experienced, and have seen too much needless suffering and death. To keep going, we have all developed "combat humor". You either learn to laugh at the pain, or you don't last in this profession. It's that simple. I don't want to trade my white coat that buttons in front for one that ties in back.

Some think, because of our humor, we do not appreciate the gravity of these situations. That is categorically wrong. We are wise enough to know that the world is made of opposites. Yes/no, left/right, up/down. What is the opposite of gravity? Levity. It's not that we do not appreciate the gravity of a bad situation. We chose to fight back with gravity's opposite, levity.

Some have intimated that this is not an appropriate venue for these stories. It has been said that this would be better in a private, paid subscription site.

Personally, I tried that site years ago. Quite frankly, it wasn't worth the money to me. For that amount of money, I could annually spend 4 nights in a nice place on the beach, or give a raise to an employee. For medical consultation with my colleagues, there are referral centers, and other online alternatives.

I think it very appropriate that this is public. First, I have nothing to hide. And second, part of our job is to educate owners. If just one owner, having read this, decides to call their local vet instead of the feed store dude, it could save their pet from needless suffering and death. One life is worth it.

When it comes to ruining the profession or its reputation, you're going to need to take a deep breath. Do it now. Ready?

- We've got a professional association that seems clueless, and is more interested in politics and selling insurance than your average private practitioner,
- Colleagues personally and in print intimating that their competition is too expensive,
- Breeders/feed store guy/internet telling owners not to use us,
- "Some guy my cousin knows" doing $40 razor blade ear crops,
- Owners who listen to these people until their pet is past saving, then blame the vet for not being able to repair 7 years damage in 7 minutes,
- Chinese knockoff OTC meds,
- Drug companies undercutting us, and pulling needed meds,
- Internet pharmacy adverts intimating that vets are not needed and expensive running many thousand times per day.

OK, now breathe. That was just a quick list off the top of my head. There are more. After that, can you honestly say that a three week old blog is the downfall of our profession or its reputation? Please.

Some may not like our style. That's OK. If you do stress release in other ways, go do them. If in other places, then go there. It's a big, wide, and free world, and not every solution fits everyone. If something works for you, great. We will not interfere. We ask the same courtesy from you.

As I said, we just want to do our job, and do it to the best of our ability. We love to do some no holds barred vetting.


  1. It says something that every post here is a situation I could have written myself. The stresses put on veterinarians by clients/their own debt load/the changes in the professional landscape may not be universal, but they're pretty damn close.

    I agree with you 200% that clients need to see our side. They get to punch out their reviews online for all to see and not take any responsibility for the shape their pet is in. Listen up guys, IT'S YOUR DOG. We have the education and skills to HELP your pet, but we can't do it if you're not on board. Grow a pair and take care of the pets you chose to acquire. No one forced you to acquire an animal.

  2. I couldn't agree more. As funny and snarky as the stories are, there is generally a lesson there. Most of the time it boils down to: don't wait and listen to your vet's recommendations. Others are more along the lines of extreme examples of why preventative care is needed (hint: not to line our pockets).

    It does me good both on a therapeutic level and a learning level. We haven't had ALL of the same experiences and hearing how other clients perceive things is helpful for when I'm faced with a similar situation so I may handle it more smoothly than the first person.

    Additionally, this is simply a different approach to getting people to pay attention to our reasons why we recommend things. Yes, I write for the clinic blog as well and they are nice, proper blog postings with tips and info and they're lovely. But they clearly are not as popular as here! Why do you think that is? Like it or not, this is reaching more people and therefore, I think, it has more potential to do some good!

  3. My friend, you just keep on writing! I've only been out of school 2 years and yet I've already seen each of these scenarios. Where I'm at, I could write a novel of the tales of laypersons practicing veterinary medicine, and all the messes I've had to clean up.

    Sometimes in life, you've gotta just laugh. I've always been the guy who laughs inappropriately. When the choice it to laugh or to cry, I'll always choose laugh!

  4. Pollyanna Troll says,

    The American Veterinary Medical Association always has openings for veterinarians who want to make a difference. You have the choice to make your own professional association whatever you want it to be.

    The Veterinary Information Network was DESIGNED as a place for veterinarians to share knowledge, experience, good days and bad days with their peers. There are also plenty of other FREE peer networks, on LinkedIn and other sites, where you can privately vent and share war stories with your peers.

    Your worst clients won't be reading this blog, and your best clients will be offended. Simple as that.

    It should be clear to your readers by now where this blog stands, in relation to most veterinarians, so... I won't be spending any more time here. I'm going to write on my nice friendly blog, and anyone else who wants to write nice things for nice people is welcome to join me.

    1. Go on along on your way, then.
      I'm not a vet and don't try to be. I have the utmost respect for vets in general and my vet in particular. He listens to me, explains to me, considers what I have to say, and treats me and my dogs with patience, kindness, and compassion. I hope I'm considered "one of the best" clients. I love this blog and hope the outlet keeps the morale up for those in the trenches. I agree the "worst clients" won't be reading this.....too busy consulting with their (scary) breeders and misinformed online forums. But the rest of us are laughing and learning.
      The Nurse

    2. Greg, I respectfully disagree with you on several fronts.

      First let's start with where we agree. We both agree that we must provide excellent service to our clients, who are, after all, paying our salaries. If we don't practice good medicine and communicate with our clients, we'll be out of work in short order.

      Where we disagree is on the state of the professional associations and forums.

      I left the AVMA after many years of membership because they ceased to represent me. My dues were spent on outrageous causes that had nothing to do with veterinary medicine. They misled the profession and the university for years saying there was (still is?) a shortage of veterinarians. They accredited foreign schools and lowered their own accreditation standards in the process. Not once did I even receive a response from the AVMA when I voiced my concerns.

      I've been a member of VIN for years now and I use it only as a reference source. A $700+ reference source! That will be coming to a stop soon. I don't post on the message boards because I see the preaching, lecturing, and downright condescending responses given to those with honest, well-meaning questions. There are non-practice owners giving practice ownership "advice." There are government workers who couldn't last a week in the private sector giving "advice" to those in the private sector. And God forbid there be a disagreement in what meets the standard of care. The aftermath looks like the non-human primate ward after a feces fight.

      You seem to think that the public will read this blog and think, "Those nasty veterinarians! All veterinarians must be nasty because these veterinarians sure seem nasty." I believe that some of the public will come to this conclusion. I also believe that more of the public will see in this blog a small portion of a specific service profession that is tired of being stepped on.

      It's not just veterinarians that are the object of rudeness from this albeit small, but seemingly growing and always vocal, segment of the public. Auto mechanics, airline pilots, MDs, pharmacists, etc. There is a segment of the public that behaves in a rude manner and has a sense of entitlement that is out of proportion when dealing with these professions. This segment is used to getting their own way because, and this is the key, they use the good manners of those in service roles as a weapon against the servers. This rude segment has learned that they can be a complete _fill in the blank_, and those serving them will just sit back and take it. "The customer is always right!" they say.

      This has got to stop. How? Some have different strategies for addressing this rude segment of the public. It's clear that we bloggers have used this forum to shed some light on this rude segment. Perhaps readers will think twice about how they treat others in service professions, veterinarian or otherwise. You, Greg, clearly would take another strategy. You've declared your position, and we've declared ours.

      With specific regard to this post, I applaud every thought expressed here.

    3. Greg, You sound like a total wet blanket. Get a sense of humor for Chrissakes.

    4. VIN?! What a fucking joke. Sure, we could vent there, but I prefer not to limit my audience to a bunch of sniveling whiney ass politically correct sycophants. I'll hitch to the VBB wagon thanks.

  5. @Greg Actually, it just so happens that one of my best clients LOVES this blog - says it reminds him of me.

    I must admit to some amusement regarding the idea of writing nice things for nice people. I mean - in all honesty, I certainly take no offense at the idea, and I certainly think it's a fine thing to do if that is what floats your boat, but - really? Because I'm more of a Vonnegut fan. In general I prefer my reading material to provoke some type of strong emotion - if not the Aristotelian concept of pity and fear, then perhaps at least open the floodgates of laughter, or really piss me off. But that's me. Have fun at your nice and friendly blog! I'm sure the nice people will enjoy it!

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  7. Greg - I also have a personal, very strong following of dedicated pet owners on my blog. They love their pets and are appalled by the stories I tell. They are NOT appalled by the fact that I tell them. So you're statement about best clients being offended is totally wrong.

  8. I don't think you guys are getting the point. We are a profession and held to a higher standard...which sometimes means getting 'getting kicked in the nuts' and not voicing it in public. I understand that you are frustrated and fed up...

    A colleague put it very nicely " ya - not exactly a bridge building crowd. I think I went to school with most of these guys... always shocked when their DVM isn't automatically met with reverence, poor tolerance for perspectives that don't match their own, arrogance as a mechanism to compensate for insecurity, etc. etc."

    Yes, you may reach 'the GOOD clients' with this blog, and get your affirmation but they don't need to be reached do they...

    1. Maybe YOU don't get the point. The "good patients" as you refer to them will mostly also be bright enough to recognise the other sort and laugh - or be suitably disgusted at their behaviour. I'm not a vet - and won't ever be a client of VBB as it would be a bit expensive to call by since I live the other side of the pond. OTOH, I see the parallels in the health care services and other service situations. I go to the garage knowing enough to make sure that, as a woman driver, I'm not taken for a ride with what needs to be done. I have the same sort of relationship with the builders/plumbers/joiners I employ. And so far I haven't had a nasty result. I do NOT assume that I, the checkout operator at the store, the bin man can tell me more about what is wrong with my car, the roof, the washing machine than the genuine professional who has bits of paper from college and experience.

      If you really are just a cow vet - maybe most farmers are a bit less awful. The ones I know are.

    2. Justacowvet, we hear your point, and we disagree with it. For elaboration on the subject, see my comments above.

    3. I think we are getting the point you are making. But I feel that point is NOW outdated. Professionals used to be held in high regard. In return for their contributions through their profession they were respected. Unless a professional specifically did a lot of wrong they were respected both in how one addresses them, handles themselves when in proximity to the professional and how they thought about the professional's recommendations.
      Today, yes our good clients do still do this.
      But now there are so many that respect NO ONE and are disrespectful, angry and rude. Some we can blame it on the way they were raised and their lack of intelligence. Others are intelligent but for some reason are not intelligent enough to appreciate how a trained professional can assist them. This goes for most professions, not just vet med.
      Holding our perceptions in has not worked to controll this. The world is changing.
      We are posting anonymously so as not to discredit any specific person.
      Personally I do not blog other than here but on my web site I have a wide variety of information for my clients. I would not put on there what I might put on here. I have fantastic clients. I am one of the very most 'lucky' vets that way. But I still experience or have seen what is blogged about up here at one time or another in my life.
      My great clients also do not appreciate the disrespect that poor (not a finanicial but personality measure) clients demonstrate. They see how taxing it is on us, similar to how it does on other professionals.

  9. Well, I'm just a civilian pet owner who happens to enjoy reading a few medical blogs. I love this blog and sympathize (because I am in a profession which is also widely misunderstood, and equally unlikely to garner any sympathy ... I'm an opera singer!). I like the snark and the venting doesn't bother me. In fact, there have been occasions when I have ducked my head guiltily (#fatdog#)and gotten some good ideas (#doggiehealthcareslushfund#). So keep writing, please! Not every blog is going to be everyone's style. Don't worry, be snarky! :)

  10. Honestly, I feel like ANYONE who has worked in ANY sort of customer service position should be able to relate to the stories of frustration. It comes with the territory - even though you are all vets, you can't be a vet without working with people too. I find your stories entertaining and educational. I also try to be a good customer/client in any situation I'm in, because I know how crummy it can be providing services.

  11. I find the entire argument laughable. No one is forcing anyone to read this blog. I am bit suprised that one of the stated goals here is to educate pet owners, but it does seem to be attracting "civilian" readership. That is likely more a reflection on people enjoying a good laugh and the sarcastic reading, than a desire to be educated. However a lesson given under the guise of entertainment will always be more succesful than one delivered in a lecture. As for offending clients or giving the profession a bad rapt, are you serious? The few bitchy comments I have seen on here are from the type of people that will always find something to complain about. You are never going to win those people over, they go through life looking for a fight.
    As to why I think this is an appropiate forum it allows those in the profession but outside of the exclusive circle of veterinarians to participate. At least the vets can attempt to educate a client or refuse them further service; techs are just supposed to smile and nod and put up with all the bullshit. They are entitled to a little "professional therapy" too, but would be excluded from pay or professional sites.

  12. I think there are significant problems with this blog:
    - The know-it-all attitude is offensive. If my vet behaved like some of you write I would fire them. I need someone I can have a conversation with.
    - Anyone who disagrees with you is a troll in your opinion. Most blogs welcome the free exchange of ideas and are open to discussing things. You are not.
    - You say you are proud of this blog yet you all blog anonymously. If you are proud use your real names then let all of your clients judge whether they like what you write about them.
    - There are many other professions that could tell their own war stories. Yet they don't. Perhaps they do this because they have some respect for their clients, patients and themselves.
    - You seem to hold Dr. Grumpy's blog in great esteem. I would agree with you there. However, do not think for one minute that your blog is anywhere near as good as Dr. Grumpy. He is funny. You are sarcastic and at times mean.
    - And please, if you intend to keep blogging like this then write an about section that let's people know that you know everything and that you will not entertain discussion. I really think you listen to what one of your fellow vets said above (Greg).
    - If you are this angry perhaps it is time to find a new profession.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. We do not have an "About" section because it is written in the title of the blog. I think if you read the title of the blog it will clear up all of your misunderstandings. Have a great day.

    2. And yet you keep coming back. Ha, pretty funny.

    3. @shihtzustaff, You make some great points. Thank you for having the guts to express your opinion especially when you know how snide people will be.

      The vets that are on here disagreeing with VBB (despite being heavily bashed) are doing so to inform the public that although they may find this blog funny and encourage them, it is not ok and they should not 'keep it up'. We are a PROFESSION and are held to a higher standard. 99% of the veterinary profession does not think it is ok to amuse the masses with client bashing.

      Another colleague writes: I can totally relate to the frustration and think most DVM's get the black humor but it is not appropriate to put it out there in a public forum. It does our profession a disservice.
      Even though I may grumble about some of the clients that walk through our clinic, at the end of the day, I always recall a practice management seminar that I went to years ago...that client , however misinformed or ignorant they may be, at least cared enough to bring their animal to you that day. There is lots out there who do not even make that effort. My job is to try and do my best for that animal and hopefully offer some education for the owner.
      I think this blog is shameful. Would that DVM have the balls to show that blog to all his clients? I highly doubt it.

    4. I reckon there are a lot of blogs out there where people unvent about bad days at work... not just vets. You might even have found mine, if I didn't work for my dad.
      I work in IT, another 'service' industry. I can relate to a lot of these stories. And don't you dare ask me to 'just have a look at your pc, please'!

  13. As the author said, "I don't want to trade my white coat that buttons in front for one that ties in back."

    We blog as a way to deal with overwhelming stresses. Everyone needs a way to defuse, and writing is healthier (and cheaper) than a bottle of Jack Daniels. If you don't like it, don't read it.

  14. Love, Love, LOVE this blog. Don't you change a thing.

  15. I'm breathing a sigh of relief right now:) please don't stop this blog--it validates the feelings I had while in private practice--makes me confident that i'm not crazy, and like you said--if it educates at least one owner so that one less pet suffers, it's worth it:) thank you, again:)

  16. @justacowvet so you are claiming to represent the 99%, and think the VBB are the 1%?? We will keep our eyes peeled for the "OCCUPY VBB" protest! *insert eyeroll here*

    Seriously, you seem pretty sure about that 99% figure & I wonder where you got it. Informally I can report that my calculations reveal an overall 86% pro-VBB, 14% anti-VBB preference among those vets of my personal or online acquaintance who have expressed a preference. Interestingly this includes at least five faculty members at two different schools of veterinary medicine who all came in on the "love the blog" side.

    I'm the 1%, huh? I may have to get tshirts made!

    1. If a large percentage of veterinarians really think that a blog of this nature is ethically sound in a PUBLIC forum, I think our profession is headed in the wrong direction. Have you thought about whether the disrepect that some clients show you might have something to do with your attitude? Our actions are a reflection of your thoughts. I think catharsis is a good thing but there is a time and place for it.

      Taken from our Code of Ethics:
      Veterinarians should strive to enhance their image with respect to their colleagues, clients, other health professionals, and the general public. Veterinarians should be honest, fair, courteous, considerate, and compassionate. Veterinarians should present a professional appearance and follow acceptable professional procedures using current professional and scientific knowledge.

      Exemplary professional conduct upholds the dignity of the veterinary profession. All veterinarians are expected to adhere to a progressive code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (the Principles). The basis of the Principles is the Golden Rule. Veterinarians should accept this rule as a guide to their general conduct, and abide by the Principles. They should conduct their professional and personal affairs in an ethical manner. Professional veterinary associations should adopt the Principles or a similar code as a guide for their activities.

    2. Interesting that someone who called the VBB bloggers fatass dickheads is lecturing on professional behavior.

  17. Veterinarians Behaving Badly....Kumbaya Bitches!! Seriously. T-shirts and homemade sea salt caramels. Just wait for the VBB cook book. Calf fries and squirrel brain gravy.

  18. Justacowvet you included >>Professional veterinary associations should adopt the Principles or a similar code as a guide for their activities.<<
    Many of the associations are so screwed in how the operate themselves. The same thing for the vet schools, etc. At one time the associations and schools worked hard to assist those of us in the trenches and now it seems many of their actions are just to perpetuate their existance.
    Times have changed. We are feeling not just the pinch but a huge amount of crushing pressure. If you read many of the original blog posts many are in fact just asking people to use some common sense, be respectful to our faces and care for their pet as a responsible owner.
    We are staying anonymous so as not to identify any particular client - so they are also anonymous.
    Maybe you, and your professional situation puts you in the 1%. I think those of us that are blogging feel more in the 99%.

    1. I don't think any veterinarian doesn't feel the crushing pressure, no matter where they practice. I never said that I don't understand and empathize with how the vets here feel but our code of ethics (you know, the oath we took as veterinarians) says that we should act with respect etc...I don't see that here...I see a lot of angry veterinarians venting in an inappropriate forum.

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  19. How's the weather there in the Houston area, Justacowvet ?

    I think the anger you claim to see is mostly in your way of looking at things vs reality here. Also, I believe it's appropriate to let the public know we're not doormats or gods, but are people trying to do our best under what can be very stressful situations. I lost my rose-colored glasses some years ago & now just tell people how it really is & help them deal with the problem their pet has.

    Of course, you could just not read this blog & try to be happy with what you are doing there.

    BTW, I used to castrate bulls & horses, so does that make me a dickhead & fat ass too ?

    1. My bad. It appears justacowvet is least on VIN. :)

  20. I am Canadian and proud of it.
    I will once again apologize for coming to the defence of a colleague and classmate with a snide remark, I think it was called for but wasnt professional.
    As this site is representing veterinarians, I feel it is my duty to remind you that it is not appropriate or professional to vent in a public forum. I think the funny stories are great, but they have gone from funny to mean, sarcastic and snide and crossed the line.
    Keri Hudson Reykdal

    1. Hey Keri/justacowvet, this blog is not "representing veterinarians." This site is the collected writings of a bunch of individuals who happen to be veterinarians and who happen to write about their experiences in the practice of veterinary medicine. We were not elected to represent anyone, and we never claimed to represent anyone except our individual selves or, on occasion, our own small group of selves ("the VBB collective.") Far be it from us to ever attempt to "represent veterinarians." After all - we are a diverse profession. Take a look at this guy: - a DVM/MD/astronaut. Let me come out right now and say that in no way does anything that I say in any way represent him.

      Anyway. I think this whole "you represent veterinarians therefore you should shut up because I hate your blog" thing is pretty ridiculous. We're not murdering kittens, here. We're not even going around calling people fat-assed dickheads. We're just speaking our minds about our OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES in our OWN PROFESSION. I am not coming by your office and dropping off flyers advertising the VBB blog. I am just putting it out there in my own little corner of the Internet, and anyone who wants to hear what I have to say can listen, and anyone who does not want to hear what I have to say is free to step away from the monitor.

      Oh, and BTW, because someone somewhere inquired as to whether we were all young vets "brought up in the age of information technology" or something, well - suffice it to say, I did not even have access to a computer until after college, and I am not the youngest member of the VBB. So I guess it just IS the state of our profession (or, you know - the state of US, since as previously mentioned we never claimed to represent an entire profession).

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  22. Greg:

    My best clients aren't idiots, therefore they won't be offended from stories about idiots or from replies to humorous blogs from people with no sense of humor.

  23. I love this blog. And I am a client. I would never do some of the horrific things that you've posted about but I would probably say something stupid from time to time. And if I ever do, to one of you, I hope you post about it so everyone can laugh and not just us. Grown ups can laugh at themselves and their mistakes because they don't take everything so seriously. And if a client is doing cruel, terrible and/or downright stupid things to their pets they are A) not reading this blog and B) deserve to hear the truth about themselves.

    Any of you practicing in the Denver, CO area? I just moved :)

  24. Great job you guys- please keep it up!

    -"tired of being stepped on"

    @ Greg, Justacowvet, shihtzustaff: if this blog bothers you so much, stop reading it! I just discovered this place a few weeks ago and have seen lots of the old posts- you guys keep hanging around! If you disagree so much, why are you here? Personally I think VBB says everything I've been thinking and haven't said out loud and I'm relieved to know that I'm not the only veterinarian out there disillusioned with the profession. Don't get me wrong, some days I love it but some days I don't. Your blog keeps me laughing, Keep posting VBB!