The NY Times recently published an article on how doctors get on the “Top Doctor” lists that got me thinking.
In medicine there’s this pernicious idea that you are either a good vet or a bad vet.
But what makes a good vet? Vet schools tell you it’s doing tests and treatments exactly by the book. Practice managers tell you it’s by being efficient. Pet owners tell you it’s by fixing their pet in the cheapest, fastest, most convenient way. If pets could talk they’d say it’s about keeping them happy and healthy as long as possible.
The problem is, those goals usually conflict. I am a thorough veterinarian whose great at explaining the “why” of what I’m recommending. I do a ton of follow-up. The clients who choose to see me love me, but if you want to be in and out the door of our veterinary hospital in 20 minutes and feel pestered by a reminder call to bring in your pet’s poop sample, I am not the doctor for you.
Sometimes I’ll be less efficient or more expensive than another doctor because I’m being more complete to make sure we don’t miss something. Sometimes what’s best for the pet isn’t convenient or affordable for a pet owner.
I use my heart and mind to their fullest every day just trying to juggle these demands. I usually put the patient’s needs first, start by trying to do things by the book and then work with pet owners to do as much as we can given their practical and financial limitations.
It’s messy and imperfect but ultimately it’s about being able to sleep at the end of the night knowing I gave the absolute best I had to give.
What do you think makes someone a top veterinarian?