Recently I had the realization that not everyone you are going to meet in your life will be nice to you. I suppose part of me had always known this, but a recent event hurt my heart more than I ever expected. I am not just a veterinary technician and a practice manager, I am a mother. Juggling trying to be good at all these things is a whole other article but I recently realized the lack of control I have as a mother. Despite loving my son unconditionally and telling him how amazing he is every day, I found out that he is being bullied in school. It didn’t matter that I tried to build his self-esteem. It doesn’t matter that I saw what an awesome, smart person he was. There were already (at age 11) people telling him he was none of those things. That he wasn’t enough.

Yeah, I get it. Many people see bullying as a rite of passage into adulthood. I was picked on, shoved around at the bus stop but I turned out ok, right? Maybe we all snickered about the “weird” kid in class in junior high. Or joked with our friends about the girl who always ate lunch by herself. It’s part of facing adversity and pushing past challenges. It’s part of figuring out where we are in the hierarchy of life. Only the strongest survive. Here’s the thing, bullying and general nastiness doesn’t stop when we graduate. It continues in our chosen profession and I hear about it every day.

One of the biggest reasons people quit their jobs in vet hospitals is toxic environments. There are people who wake up every day and dread going into work. They dread it because somehow their clinic culture has allowed bullying to continue past the school yard. There is gossip and whispering when they walk in the room. There are nasty looks and words are spoken to “remind them of their place.” Their skills are scoffed at and their intelligence is questioned daily. These behaviors are not only tolerated but encouraged in some hospitals. Yet we wonder why people burn out. We wonder why we can’t keep our clinics staffed. We wonder why people are killing themselves.

Each of those people is someone’s daughter or son. I think not only of the pain it causes to experience bullying but the pain that radiates out to their family and within the community. Our actions and the words we say have consequences. They can inflict great pain, or they can build someone up and inspire them. They can stifle someone and leave them feeling weak and small. Or they can empower them to achieve, learn and become great. If we want to change the bullying that takes place within the walls, it starts with us. It starts with me and it starts with you. Look into the mirror and dig deep. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

As a mother I cannot protect my son from the pain he will feel in life. I cannot protect him from people who choose to try and tear him down. I can only hope that he will see the good in himself and try to guide him to find his own strength. I can try to remind him that he is not alone and that he will get through this. I can remind him that his words and actions hold power. I hope that he chooses those words and actions wisely. I hope that those of us in this profession can too. And I remember that without hope there is no change.  Be that change.

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, Wash. 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!