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Technician: New & Naive

06/25/2010 -Random Acts of Kindness

06/16/2010 -The Benefit of the Doubt

06/10/2010 - Paycheck vs. Personal Ethics


I was talking with a friend of mine, who just happens to be a veterinarian. She was describing an incident that happened in her practice. A new technician fresh out of tech school and first day on the job took the owner aside on her second day and pointed out the fact that his practice was not providing standard of care medicine. The surprising part isn’t that she wasn’t terminated on the spot, but the fact that they had to “convince” her to stay and give them a second chance!

So when we believe things could be done better, particularly in regards to patient care, how do we approach the practice owner or management team without losing our jobs, whether we are fresh out of school or a seasoned veteran? First there is a hierarchy of respect to acknowledge. The veterinarian is to be respected for their credentials and their position at the top of the medical hierarchy. That isn’t to say they are above reproach and never make mistakes, but we have to be mindful of approaching the subject with our respect intact.

Ask for a time to meet with the veterinarian or practice owner privately, away from the hustle and bustle of the day. Come prepared to ask why the practice does things a certain way, and then be prepared to explain why you think it should change. Saying “I heard it at a conference, “or “I read it in a journal” isn’t quite enough evidence typically to change the mind of the veterinarian. However if it’s something you’ve seen discussed many times, in different respected venues of the profession, then perhaps it’s worth bringing up.

It’s always okay to say something less accusatory, such as “I heard a new treatment for cats…; have you ever heard that before?” In this manner, you are asking their opinion rather than providing your unsolicited advice. Then allow yourself to learn and be open-minded as he or she explains the reason.

If the veterinarian seems to be interested in learning more about what you’re saying, be prepared to provide information and resources that support your idea.  

In the scenario described above, there were many things askew:

  1. The technician was a fresh graduate, and likely lacks the hands-on experience needed to make the call about  standard of care.
  2. The technician did this after her first day on the job, which didn’t allow her time to understand the practice’s methods.
  3. The technician went straight to the practice owner. This might have been fine, but in some organizations she would need to go to a supervisor or manager before knocking on the owner’s door.
  4. She was convinced to stay. If she truly feels that this practice is not providing good medical care, then she should leave. Chances are, if they don’t make changes (and we don’t know that they should) then she should leave. Never try to live a life that goes against your values.
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