Friday, September 11, 2015


Long ago I learned about judging and being judged as a veterinarian.  My first year out I learned that people who you think have money may not or may not choose to spend it and vice versa.

I had one client give me a sob story about how his home and business burned down and he had no funds.  I tried to cut him a break (I didn't have much leeway, but I did what I could) and then I walked out to see him get into a brand new gas guzzling Hummer.  At this time I made below the poverty level.  I learned how people can take advantage of you...

I had another client who drove down from her oceanfront vacation home in Nantucket to have her dog seen in suburban CT.  She told me she didn't take her dog (with a laceration) to the nearest veterinarian because she wanted to save money.  Obviously, I thought, if you have a vacation home in Nantucket, you aren't impoverished.   As I went over the estimate with her as to what the appropriate course of therapy and antibiotics were (I don't care how much money you have or don't have, I always recommend what I feel is best and I go through any items that are good medicine, but not 100% necessary), she told me she didn't have that money in her "dog budget" and so couldn't I give her a break?  Um, no.  No because it wasn't my business and no because she didn't deserve any money from any "angel funds" and no because she was not entitled to special treatment.  That went over well...

I also had another client with an older dog with a terminal condition.  She was an old lady herself.  That woman gave up getting her prescription medication that month to provide for her dog.  Her dog meant enough to make that sacrifice.  Of course, everyone who worked with her did what they could to help her out.  I believe even one of our other clients may have heard her story and paid her bill (this did happen from time to time).

The stories above are just a few from my first year (and I've worked 7 more years since then), but they left an impression on me about drawing judgements and conclusions.

Then there is also the reverse judgement: it was the end of my internship year and the new interns (most of the time the new interns are straight from vet school, never had a job as a veterinarian before) had just arrived.  We had a couple of interns who though they were new graduates, they had had another career before they became a veterinarian.  I remember checking a patient out in the front lobby and a woman telling the receptionist, pointing at me, she didn't want the "young" doctor, she wanted the older male doctor.  She didn't know that she just picked herself a newbie : )  It was kind of funny because my supervising doctor looked almost younger than I look (I love it, just the other day a technician tried to guess how old I was and she said 25 or 26.  I turned 35 in April : )  I smiled as I walked to the back and thought to myself, "yes, you can definitely ask for someone other than me to work with your pet."

Just recently I have been working in an area that is DEFINITELY outside of my normal socioeconomic conditions.  There is a certain amount of culture shock, but I really to appreciate the diverse environment and working with blue collar and poor people (my definition of different socioeconomic conditions is a location where there are shootings, pawn shops and liquor stores).  It is refreshing to see how no matter what our differences are, we all care for our pets to the best of our ability and just because the outside of the package is different, we are all very much alike.

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