One of the biggest failings in vet med is that we don’t hold each other accountable for our own self-care. If you think about it, why would anyone?


Everyone is wading through their own swamp of the profession. We all have our own individual professional and personal problems. Is it worth it to call someone else out on their own unhealthy coping mechanisms for the stress, long hours and inability to leave work at the door?  The answer is a resounding yes.


Sometimes people don’t look at the things that they do and see a problem. Maybe we lash out at coworkers after dealing with a particularly demanding client. Maybe we don’t take our lunch because we have so much work to catch up on. Maybe we don’t see how being frazzled or overwhelmed effects our team mates.


The simple fact is that as humans, most of us don’t see the world outside of our own little tunnel. It’s just how life is, and we just get set in our routines, behaviors and responses.  But to change our behavior, we must see it. That means being called out.


I recently was texting my boss about a couple cases that came in on her days off. I didn’t want her to be blind sided when she walked in. These cases weren’t anything catastrophic or even anything urgent. I had been home about an hour and just felt the need to fill her in.


We chit chatted away and addressed the game plan for the next couple days. After about 30 minutes of texting, I realized I was chatting her ear off and told her to have a good night and thanked her for listening. The response I got was one I wasn’t expecting, but one I needed.


“Jade, I will always be here to listen to you and I appreciate you filling me in. But close the clinic door and have a good night.”


A moment of panic hit me. “Did the clinic door get locked?” Then I realized it was time to literally shut the clinic door and leave work behind it. It was time for me to relax and stop thinking about things that would happen days from now. It was time for me to be present at just being home with my family.


I have never been good at leaving work at work. But her calling me out and giving me permission to close the clinic door was one of the most infinite pieces of wisdom bestowed on me.


Although I may not always realize that I am obsessed with work, it is apparent to others that my mind is always stuck there. When my boss told me to close the door it sunk in more than any seminar on work/life balance or blog I read about learning to let go of work.


Her calling me out showed me that closing the door was a totally reasonable option. It showed me that I can open that door tomorrow. It allowed me to acknowledge my weaknesses and gave me the tools needed to begin strengthening myself.


There are so many of us in this field who use our dedication as an excuse to never really leave the clinic. Sure, we go home, eat dinner with the family and lay our heads on our pillows at night. But it’s always there. Lingering in the back of our minds. I never realized what it meant to be told that it’s ok to shut it off. I had permission. Work would be there tomorrow.


For all of you reading this blog on your day off, considering working through your lunch or staying late writing up chart, close the clinic door. It’s amazing what lies on the other side.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.


Jade is a licensed technician of 9 years who lives in Port Orchard, Washington. She enjoys emergency and critical cases, dentistry and creating a bond with her clients and team. During her off time she is busy keeping up with her two crazy Basenjis!