In January, I attended the National Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The first thing that my fellow Tufts VBMA chapter officers and I did upon arrival to our hotel was go swimming in the outdoor pool; the three-day break from the wintry weather of New England was invigorating! The meeting was jam-packed with prominent vets who spoke on topics ranging from practice ownership to job negotiations to identifying one’s brand and marketing him- or herself. I also managed to navigate the interminable booths and displays that constituted the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference, which conveniently happened to be the same weekend as the National VBMA Meeting. Apart from listening to great speakers and meeting vet students from across the country (special shout-out to UF, Colorado, and Purdue!), I had the pleasure of reuniting with a good friend from college, the only other student in my graduating class to have also gone to vet school. She and I had a great time reminiscing the good ol’ days during which the academic semester had a “midterm season”—not an exam every week as is the case in vet school!
Though it would be difficult to share all of my recollections from the weekend, there is one very special morsel of advice that has resonated with me since the trip. A vet whose table I sat at during a roundtable discussion made a point of telling us students not to downplay the importance of “random acts of validation” directed toward our future coworkers. Joining a practice and entering its already moving workflow necessitates that we engage in these acts. They could be as simple as congratulating a vet tech on an excellent catheter placement, going to the receptionist(s) and asking them how to help make their jobs easier, or something else to that effect. This idea of affirming your support and appreciation for another, however seemingly basic, is actually critical in creating a positive workplace atmosphere. It also happens to be in keeping with the Jewish concept of gemilut hasadim (acts of lovingkindness), something that has been always near and dear to my heart. It may be very simple to praise someone for a job well done or do something to elicit a smile, but the stressors of the clinic can sometimes impede our willingness to go out of our way and do these simple yet meaningful acts. At the end of the day, remembering what our roles are as coworkers, teammates, and friends in providing veterinary care can help us overcome those obstacles and treat each other (and our patients) with love.