Expose Yourself!

Katherine Dobbs explains how her daughter helped her form a relationship with compassion fatigue awareness.



My daughter, Katie, loves drama, so we put her in many acting workshops with a company called KidStage. They learn a short play or skit over eight weeks and then perform for the parents. The first time, Katie was pretty nervous, but she did just fine. The second workshop she was fine, too, but what was really great was Katie running up to us afterwards and saying “Mom, I didn’t remember if I was more scared or more excited, and I’m more excited!” with a huge smile on her face!

On the other hand, my acting career was short and sweet. In seventh grade I got onboard the Christmas play just because I liked one of the boys (hmmm, he was playing the part of a tom cat). Radiola was my fairy name (although my older brothers teased me and said I was Ravioli), and the second showing the Christmas tree fell right during my big speech! My acting career came to a screeching halt (although my mother still asks me why I didn’t go into acting!).

Now I realize I’m doing a bit of that stage acting when I speak to the public at different veterinary conferences, meetings, practices and such. Sure, I was nervous to begin with, just like Katie. I’ve mentally blurred out those experiences, maybe to protect my fragile self-image. Then, it all changed. I was invited to speak at the Michigan Vet Tech meeting, and talk about client communication and compassion fatigue. At the end of that loooong day, my feet were killing me, but I had one of those Katie smiles on my face…this time, I was more excited!

That turned everything around for me. Not only did I come to the realization that I enjoyed public speaking, but I also started my long relationship with compassion fatigue awareness.

When you go to a veterinary conference or meeting, and see those presenters up front (American Animal Hospital Association has moved to using “Teaching Facilitators”) do you ever wonder how they got there? Sure, they are just people like you and your colleagues, sharing knowledge for the betterment of pets and the people who love them. They don’t have any special secret, no fairy dust, no magic wand, just a desire to share. And do you ever wonder, when the presenters of today are gone, who will be standing at the front of the room? YOU!

You have a wealth of knowledge and skills to share, whether you’re a front office team member, a medical assistant, a credentialed technician, or a veterinary technician specialist. You can make it happen, and it opens up a whole ‘nother world to explore!

I realize, it’s scary at first, but that doesn’t last long…At some point you’ll have that “more excited” day and that big smile. After all, the fear of death is the third most common fear, and fear of public speaking is No. 1…so people would rather die than speak to a live audience? I know, that’s not you…and I look forward to seeing you at the front of the room soon!

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