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James Barr Of Emergency Pet Hospital: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Founder

It is OK to not know the diagnosis right away. It is important to be comfortable with not always knowing the answer. And you must also be OK with saying so when the time comes. For example, a pet may come in with symptoms that indicate a certain condition, but test results do not verify this diagnosis. It is OK to let the client know that the results are inconclusive, and you do not know the answer now but are prescribing additional tests to zero in on a diagnosis. Knowing the steps to get to the right answer is oftentimes just as important as the diagnosis itself — especially in emergency cases when time is of the essence.

  1. Prioritize sleep — At the end of each day, there is always the desire to fit in one last thing. But a good night’s rest will give you the energy, clarity, and reserve you need to keep up with the demands of daily life. Figure out how much sleep you need to feel well-rested (seven to nine hours for adults is the U.S. recommendation), and consciously ‘turn off’ about 30 minutes before bedtime. This could mean shutting down electronic devices, dimming lights, turning on relaxing music, or reading a book chapter.
  2. Continue to learn. Until you try and learn new things, especially something that may not be related to veterinary medicine. As said by Neale Donal Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Learning new things helps us to expand our minds and challenge previous beliefs or perceptions. And there is also the rush that comes along with learning or trying something new. When you feel tired of your daily routine, or overwhelmed by everyday chores, do or learn something new. This newness will bring you a feeling of accomplishment and delight and may even open doors to new possibilities.
  1. Approach conversations without judgement. As a clinician, it is important to stay objective, listen to understand, not to respond, and to stick to the facts. Emotions and stakes are high in the veterinary setting — whether dealing with team members or clients — so it is critical to approach conversations without preconceived notions. For example, if a clinician assumes a client’s financial well-being is lower than what it actually is, they may approach a conversation with limiting treatment options. This approach is harmful to the patient and is handicapping the doctor’s ability to do their best work.
  2. Outcomes vary by perception, so be specific. What a clinician may deem an optimal outcome is not always what a client may deem an optimal outcome. For example, a client may see an optimal outcome as being their pet resumes their normal life; they are able to go on multiple walks per day and play fetch. However, the clinician may see the optimal outcome as being the pet has improved quality of life (from the pet’s current condition); they are able to walk without a limp. It is important to clarify outcome expectations while in the exam room discussing treatment options.
  3. Recognize the importance of your nursing and paraprofessional staff in your success. Clinicians must make their nursing and paraprofessional staff experiences as good as possible. Excellence and efficiency in veterinary medicine is dependent on teamwork, and teams work best when all members feel safe, supported, and heard. Civility between team members, specifically, can create a sense of safety and is a key ingredient of successful teams. Alternatively, incivility robs teams of their full potential and can lead to poorer patient outcomes.
  4. Take care of yourself. The truth is we can care too much — too much about work and too little about ourselves. Day in and day out, we pour ourselves into our work, yet forget that we must refuel our own engines before we can service anyone else. Compassion fatigue and burnout are common byproducts of an always on, always ready clinical culture, so be wary of this reality. Make sure you are taking time to care for yourself — even if this means scheduling five-minute breaks throughout the workday or doing breath work in between patients. Small daily steps can amount to big change.

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