I’m a fierce feminist. I stand for equal pay, more female CEOs, paid maternity leave, standing against rape culture and the objectification of women, and for women having autonomy over our own bodies. Being a feminist means all of these things and more. What it does not mean is that I can’t like girlie things.

I like wearing dresses and fun accessories, I’m a fan of the color pink, and I LOVE make-up. So lately, between finding new feminist bloggers to follow on Medium and trying to make a name for myself in the veterinary field, I’ve also spent a fair bit of time watching YouTube makeup tutorials. Mostly, these teach me how to do my makeup, but they’ve also taught me a few things about life and vet med too.

Here are the top four things I’ve learned about vet med from watching YouTube makeup tutorials:

1. A Solid Base is Key

When you think of makeup, you might think of colors—A pop of red on the lips, a little purple on your lids. It’s what stands out most, but without a good foundation and primer, it’ll fade before you even get to work in the morning.

Vet med is just like that. The doctor may seem like the star of the practice, just like that sexy, smoky eye is the star of your makeup, but without a solid support team behind them they might as well just be a pretty face. CSRs, techs, assistants and kennel staff all make it possible for a vet to do what they do best—diagnose and treat animals. Not only would us docs burn out in a hot second without all you awesome people; you do a lot of stuff way better than we ever could. Just ask my team what happens when I try to tape in a catheter or shave and prep a patient for surgery (or maybe don’t. It’s a little embarrassing).

2. Use the Right Tools

If you’re still using that weird, little plastic Q-tip thingy that comes with your eye shadow, it might be time to invest in a good set of brushes. That perfectly contoured cheek and flawlessly blended eye require a whole host of different brushes—each with a specific purpose. A few basic brushes will do for a lot of people, but if you want to get more advanced there are dozens of specialized instruments to help make your face glow.

Tools are important in vet med too. There are the obvious tools like your stethoscope, otoscope, laryngoscope—pretty much any type of “scope.” There are also some more advanced tools like dental rads and ultrasound machines if you want to offer your patients the very best right there in-house. But if you really want to take your practice to the next level, don’t dismiss the more often over-looked, not-so-medical tools that make you really stand out to your clients.

EMR offers you the ability to print easily readable discharge instructions in no time. A well-crafted web and social media presence helps attract the type of clients (and staff) that fit best in your practice. A well written blog can educate your clients and keep them away from Dr. Google.

Technology is more than just the latest gadgets and gizmos—it’s how we interact with people these days and it’s becoming an essential part of the client experience. Familiarize yourself with these new tools of the trade and your clinic will shine like your impeccably glossed lips.

3. Personalize Your Colors

First you prime your lids, then you set it. Take your crease brush and apply the transition shade with a mixture of circular motions and windshield wiper motions, etc, etc…  It’s all pretty formulaic. And yet you walk into Sephora and there are aisles upon aisles of choices. A single eyeshadow palette alone can contain more than a dozen shades.

There are dozens of red lipsticks, and dozens more in pink, berry, and coral. There are mattes, shimmers and straight-up sparkles. Even if we all put our makeup on the same way, we’ll never look exactly alike. That’s what’s so great about makeup; you make it your own and use it to express yourself.

You should imbue vet medicine with your own wealth of color and sparkle too. Maybe you’re like me and words are your jam, so you write some killer client handouts to help people understand their pet’s diagnosis.

Maybe you’re not like me and you have actual artistic ability so you explain things to your clients by drawing a frame-worthy piece of artwork showing Apoquel binding to and inhibiting a JAK-1 enzyme. Perhaps you’re great at connecting with people over last night’s baseball game or the local high school’s performance of West Side Story but maybe small talk makes your palms sweat and your heart race so you get down on your hands and knees and take the conversation directly to Fluffy. Whatever your strengths are, embrace them and let your true colors shine.

4. Loosen Your Grip

Are you having trouble getting that perfect blend? Maybe your colors are looking a little patchy. Take a look at how you’re holding your brush. You’re probably gripping it too high up. Why is this a problem?  Well, the tighter your hold on the brush, the more control you have.  “But isn’t control a good thing?” you ask. Not for blending. By giving up control, everything blends together much more smoothly.

Are you holding on too tightly at work too? It’s easy to want to control everything, especially in vet med where there’s so much we can’t control. But you need to trust your colleagues.

Say it’s your day off. Do you check your patient’s blood results from home? Do you call constantly asking for updates and trying to dictate orders? Or do you let your associate who’s actually in the building with the patient assess him and fine tune the plan? When your technician reads an ear cytology slide, do you double check it, or do you trust their training and skills?

When you try to micromanage everything, people will think you don’t trust them.  This harbors resentment and fractures the team apart.  It keeps others from fulfilling their true potential.  The day does not blend seamlessly to the mechanizations of a well-oiled team when one person is trying to do it all. So loosen up and watch how much more smoothly things go.

There are lessons to be found everywhere, even in something as seemingly superficial as cosmetics.  With our careers, just like with our makeup, we strive to put our best face forward.


About the Author

Dr. Lauren Smith graduated in 2008 from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed her clinical year at Cornell University. Her professional interests include internal medicine, preventative medicine and client education. Dr. Smith lives and practices on Long Island with her cat, Charlie and dog, Frankie and loves to read write and run in her free time. You can check out more of her writing at laurensmithdvm.com