You don’t often get time to sit down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea on a Wednesday afternoon, keyboard beneath your fingertips, mountains of paperwork from the night before flattened to sea-level, mind quiet, thoughts clear, ready to think, ready to shock the world (or at least whoever is reading this right now) with some advice transferred via the interwebs. The internship lifestyle is quite busy, as they always say, and it is often quite difficult to find time to reflect on past experiences, cases, and conversations with coworkers, intern-mates, clients, clinicians, and even weirdly, yourself.
So, here are some thoughts from a 6-week-old baby intern that may or may not be helpful to you as a current intern, a veterinary student on clinics, or veterinary student in class anxiously awaiting clinics and the future.
Be confident! Yeah, you might just be an intern, or a student on clinics, or a student in class, or maybe even a college kid applying to veterinary school, or maybe even a college kid who just happened to come across Merck Vet Student Stories while perusing the internet. But be confident. You’re smart, you have a good head on your shoulders, and you can do it. Clients, intern-mates, clinicians, your classmates, and your peers like confidence because if you’re confident others around you will be confident too.
Tell the client everything you know and offer it all. That’s what you want to do. You want to offer the gold standard, everything possible, all the tests and information that you can buy with all the money in the world that the client may or may not have. “Here are all the diagnostics and tests we can do today to find everything wrong with your pet. Maybe we’ll find some things you haven’t even noticed.” Now, this segways seamlessly into the next thought…
Let the client decide and blatantly express your approval (even if you’re not entirely onboard). Because, at the end of the day, it’s the client’s decision because they know what is best for their pet (even though you really do). But that’s alright because you feel good about offering everything you know, all the diagnostics, all the different plans and courses of action, and ways to fix the pet. That’s your job – to provide, nurture, support, and listen.
Speak with honesty. A huge part of being transparent is being upfront and real with the client. Literally tell them, “these diagnostics we perform may not be 100% accurate and the treatment we provide based on these diagnostics may not work. Additionally, there are risks involved with anesthesia and the procedure we are going to perform today.” As we know, veterinary medicine is a process, and all processes take time, adjustments, and thought, and carry with them some degree of uncertainty.