Welcome back to Humans of the Clinic, our newest column at DrAndyRoark.com. Our goal is to feature a person you know through your work who inspires you in any way great or small; it can be anyone- a co-worker, a client, a teacher, a mentor, an employee, some guy you see out in the parking lot. Today, one of our featured writers, Dr. Cherie Buisson, shares the story of the type of vet we all hope and pray to work with someday.
This month, my hero and mentor is retiring. I grew up a few blocks from her home and climbed her trees as a kid. I had no idea how much influence she would have over my veterinary career. Deborah Edwards opened the first feline-only practice in the southeast.
People said she was crazy. “Something like that will never work,” they said (incidentally, don’t ever say this to Deb – you’ll end up looking really stupid). This year she sold her very successful feline practice and gracefully weaned herself off of work. Though we haven’t worked a shift together in many years, I still feel as though we are saying goodbye. Luckily, we are friends outside the office and will spend lots of time eating lunch and quilting together in the future.
Deb taught me how to be the feline veterinarian I am today. There was no question too stupid or ill-timed for her to answer patiently. To this day, I ask her about radiographs or blood results that confound me. Sometimes her only answer is “Well, that’s bizarre”, which is a comfort.
One day early in my career, I ran back to her office during a dental procedure. I was panicked and almost in tears. “I put ear flush in Oliver’s eyes instead of eye flush,” I gasped. Deb turned to me (with perfect calm) and said, “Ooooh, I hate it when that happens.” Then we talked about what I should do to fix it (I had already done it), and she assured me it would be fine (it was).
When a notoriously difficult client blew up at me while she was out of town, she was horrified. When she got home, she put an arm around me and said “I put a loaded gun in your hands. I’m so sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong.” When a board complaint followed soon after, she walked me through it safely to the other side.
She is everything a mentor should be. Her compassion, humor and humility make her an amazing teacher. There is no fear in learning from her because you are never punished for not knowing. Even better, you are never allowed to take yourself too seriously. She will honestly tell you her mistakes and problems and commiserate with you over your own.
I’m glad she’s getting some time to just enjoy her life and family, but I can’t help feeling that veterinary medicine is losing a treasure. Luckily, those of us who benefitted from her teaching get to mentor the next generation. We will do our best to pass along her wisdom and wit while she sits back and watches, hopefully with a glass of wine in her hand.
Help us get the word out about all the amazing people in our world! Do you have a person you want to recognize for having an impact? Send us a photo and their story at firstname.lastname@example.org with “HOTC Submission” in the subject line.