How To Become A Veterinary Villian
Originally Published: DVM NewsMagazine, September, 2011
Maybe being a great doctor isn’t for you. And even though the profession is filling up with “good girls and guys,” you can still be dastardly and rule with an iron fist. With veterinary school admissions offices focusing on turning out good, caring, knowledgeable, helpful—even heroic—veterinarians, many of you may feel that your chances of becoming a villainous doctor have been decimated. However, dastardly veterinarians everywhere are bucking the trend and showing us that being toxic is still easy. Click “next” below to learn their top tips.
1. Know your role
Remind the support staff of your status as the veterinarian at every opportunity. Don’t clean up. Don’t help dispense medications. And don’t do anything that could be classified as “a technician’s job.” Absolutely never restrain an animal. And when things are especially slow, employ tricks like the following to make sure your status is obvious:
Veterinarian: “I’m going to the store. Would anyone like anything?”
Technician: “I’d love a soda.”
Veterinarian: “I don’t think so.”
2. Forget buy-in
Give directives and avoid feedback. Feedback hurts, and who cares what non-doctors think about your ideas, anyway? Order the staff around, preferably in front of clients, and always insist on uni-directional conversations.
The classic evil veterinarian tactic for avoiding dialogue is to issue a command and then pick up the telephone and start digging through a chart before the staff member can respond. If you’re the practice owner, you can use your cell phone with this technique for greater mobility throughout the clinic.
3. Support the brown-nosers Make sure to pick a special staff member who understands and supports your ego requirements. (Note: These people are referred to as “henchmen” in more openly dysfunctional fields.) Now, show this person obvious favoritism. Once you’ve found your brown-noser, refuse to see or address any faults or weaknesses in him or her. If there’s a technician who brings you good coffee on a regular basis without prompting, then you’ve found your Igor.
4. Base your expectations on your mood
Setting clear expectations for team members takes planning and forethought. It also ties your hands if what you decide you want is not what you’ve previously discussed with the staff. Avoid this headache by basing your expectations of staff performance on how you feel. The team will come to know that when you show up with an irritable expression on your face, your previous expectations are meaningless and you’ve raised the bar—again. If you’re concerned the team has not gotten this message, then answer the first question you receive with: “Do I look busy to you?” That should set the tone.
5. Steal the credit
You know you’re amazing, but does everyone else? As the veterinarian and unofficial leader of the team, aren’t you ultimately responsible for the vast majority of the team’s successes? You have a lot of people to impress—clients, staff, other veterinarians, your boss, Facebook friends—so when things go well, make sure that you’re recognized. Remember, everyone loves technicians, and they’re well compensated for what they do. You have a tough job, so you should take the credit for your team’s successes whenever you can.
6. Pass the blame and the angry clients
There are two things despicable veterinarians avoid at all costs: accountability and ticked-off clients. There are probably four or five support staff members for every doctor in your hospital, so if something has gone wrong, statistically speaking, it’s probably not your fault. Still, leave nothing to chance and make sure blame is firmly placed elsewhere when setbacks arise.
On the off chance that a mistake might actually be your fault, it's important to remember that your reputation is much more important than that of your technicians (it’s not like they have a clientele). Occasionally throwing your support staff members under the bus to maintain your own standing makes sense for both you and the practice.
Angry clients, like blame, should always be passed off on others. These irate people affect your emotional state and take up time that could be used to do things you enjoy (like stealing cases, flirting with attractive clients and taking food from the break-room fridge that’s not yours). Furthermore, these angry clients can provide valuable training for technicians and practice managers who need help with their communication skills. Your dastardly job is to diagnose, prescribe, treat and suck the spirit out of your hospital. It’s not to smooth over people’s feelings, so dodge that task every time.
7. Throw something
This is the coup de gras for practice morale. If you don’t have much time and need to nuke your practice culture and wreck the day for your entire team, then yell and throw something. You’ll make a lasting impression.
With these seven pointers, you’ll sink your practice to new lows. You’ll embrace the dark side of veterinary medicine and make a mark on your clinic, your patients and the community at large. And remember, while there is no “I” in “team,” there is one in “evil.”