There are days at the vet clinic that never seem to end. You’re missing veins, nobody is cooperating for their exams, owners are being difficult or non-compliant and euthanasias are abundant. How does one keep a positive attitude and bring a smile to each and every client when faced with a day like this? Here are a few ways that seem to work for me:
1. Make light of any situation
I am one of those people who uses humour, or attempts at humour, in any situation that makes me uncomfortable, sad, angry, frustrated. You name it, and I’m trying to be funny. This not only makes my coworkers laugh (sometimes), but laughing and/or smiling allows me to release some of that emotion and to make an otherwise terrible situation seem a little more bearable.
For example, we had euthanized a very large dog that day and had some trouble getting it in the freezer because there were things in there that didn’t need to be. Once I had solved the problem of getting that stuff out and the big dog in, I sent out a clinic-wide email asking people to please remove what they could from the freezer because I wasn’t really into playing “Jenga” in there for long periods of time. It made a few people chuckle after an otherwise crazy day and if I can help to boost morale with cheesy things, then I am gonna lay it on.
2. Allowing someone to “let it out”
The first eleven seconds of this video is what plays in my head all the time.
Every single time I read or hear the words “let it out”, I am reminded of the above scene voiced by the late Robin Williams. It makes me smile a little inside, but I also do this in the literal sense. Whether they need to cry, vent, or they just can’t bear to be present in another euthanasia that day, I like to be that person who listens or fills in whenever needed and I know that my teammates would do the same for me. Think of your coworkers like you’re all part of the Amigos.
I think voicing your frustrations can be a very good strategy for getting through the day with your sanity intact. There are certain people I work with who know that when I need to vent, it’s not that I am mad at them or I am being too negative. They know that I just need to voice my opinion or voice my frustrations and then it’s over and I feel better. Then I can continue on with my day. Often you can’t voice what you really think in an appointment because staying professional and courteous is so crucial, so being able to do so can help with getting rid of some frustration.
3. Cut yourself some slack
Yes, I get it. You’ve done this job for “x “years and you are more than capable of hitting that vein, or powering through that tough appointment. The sooner someone realizes that perfection is an impossible goal, the sooner they will be less hard on themselves when they’re having a bad day.
Even being as relatively new as I am, I know that there are going to be days when I’m not at my best. Those days are getting fewer and further apart, and that is what I strive for. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make each one a “teachable moment”, you’re on your way to becoming an even better technician (or whatever your title may be).
Being perfect one hundred percent of the time isn’t going to happen because the industry is constantly going to evolve and change. You can either learn and adapt, or get left behind thinking you’ve seen it all. Chances are, you haven’t. Even some of the technicians I respect the most, who really have “seen it all” know that there is always more to be learned, and staying humble really goes a long way.
4. Give yourself a minute
Sometimes you just need a sec. Take a few minutes to allow your brain to rest, to recharge, and to deal with the craziness. I realize that there are some days where time is short and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.
I think it is incredibly important to at least have a few moments where you can just sit and release some of that tension. I recently did some CE on compassion fatigue which I felt was really useful. Since we are in a field which requires a compassionate and empathetic person, sometimes this can put some strain on us mentally. I intend to write further on the topic, not as an expert by any stretch of the imagination but just put out the information I have gathered so far and possibly inject some of my own experiences in.
Just think, you could have to work with people.
Don’t get discouraged. Just know that at the end of the day, you really are doing all you can and you are making a difference in the lives of your patients. Any client or employer with sense will know that you are only human, and that you deserve respect for the work that you do.
If all else fails, I watch cat videos until I feel better. This one, for example, had me laughing until I cried.
As always, feel free to leave me a comment. Any positive feedback or constructive criticism to become a better blogger or a better tech would be great!