A sense of community is something we all strive for. Whether we are loud and boisterous or reserved and quiet, we all want to feel as though we belong somewhere. We want to feel that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. I think many of us got into vet med because we felt we were providing care that made a difference. That the acts we do make us feel like we are making an impact. And they are. But then the real-world hits. We forget about the fact that this is a team sport.
I won’t lie. I am a very introverted person. I hate crowds and I despise small talk. I want to do my job and often I would like to do it in a manner that doesn’t draw attention to myself. I have worked in clinics where every individual was good at their job. They individually were rock stars. But they sucked at talking to each other. They lived their own lives and working in a vet hospital was just something they did. There really isn’t anything wrong with that. But who wants to live their life being really awesome at their job, but completely isolated?
Community is when you walk into your job and you realize you are a part of a family. It is when you can get to know each other as people, and not just your job title. Community is when you connect with the people you work with. When you are comfortable to share and brave enough to show you care. Community means being able to accept your coworkers for themselves. All the good and all the bad. It means wanting to be a part of a group of people who are so different but come together for a common goal. There is no emphasis on education, background or previous experience.
Many years ago, I remember working with a vet who was very good at her job, but it was a job for her. I worked with her for years. Although she knew how to do a dog spay in record time and she knew physiology, disease process and could do CRI calculations like no one’s business, she didn’t know her team. I realized this when I had been working with her for years and she didn’t remember my dogs name. The dog she had diagnosed conditions on, provided annual preventative care and seen on emergency. She knew it in the moment but had totally forgotten it in passing conversation.
To be fair, we all are busy people and deal with intense cases, angry clients, and staying on schedule. Never mind trying to remember to stop by the grocery store after work, take the kids to soccer practice or try and not forget that Friday is trash day. We have a ton on our minds. All that can distract us from our people. The people we probably spend more time with than we do with our families. Sometimes we have to stop, take a minute and get to know the people we work with. We have to remember to not just make it through the day but to make connections.
Know your people. When you know your people, you will find you have more in common than you don’t. Care about your people. Being brave enough to make a connection and build relationships only enhances the medicine we practice and our ability to have genuine connections with our clientele. Vet med can be isolating. It doesn’t have to be. Making connections doesn’t have to be forced. It just means being present. It means listening and realizing that we all want to belong. We all want to be something bigger. We can do that together.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.