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It’s ok to say no

Our job is a profession of high pressure and high stakes. People care more than ever about their pets and so it can really feel like life and death in regard to some of our decisions, even if it’s just a decision of whether to give the very fat labrador more liver treats to stop the over growing pool of drool on our consult room floor. Ever since covid, our clinic has grown and grown and gotten busier and busier. There is never enough space to fit all the clients who ring with sick pets in a week, or fit in all the emergencies who call on the day.

We as vets care too much. The general public may sometimes delude themselves into thinking that we don’t care (when they complain about our high bills) but we are all people who really genuinely love and care for all our patients and their owners. Which is why we sometimes find it hard to say no. So often we stay back late on our consulting or surgery days to cover the last minute admits or sick animals, or choose to return the phone call for the worried client who has been calling all day, desperate for our advice between a busy run of consults.

Sometimes we need a little reminder that it’s ok to say no. Our time outside of work is equally as important as our time at work. If we say yes to every animal, every client who calls, we would never leave our work place, becoming so run down that we couldn’t give our best selves each day, in order to give our best to every patient we treat. This can be a very difficult line to walk, because WE CARE. We don’t want to send that blocked cat to emergency instead of treating them here ourselves, we don’t want to miss that one phone call return for a client that didn’t necessarily need an answer today, we don’t want to leave our colleagues with an emergency waiting when we leave.

But, it’s ok to say no. If the day has been so busy that simply no more can be fit on the schedule, we can offer referral to a local emergency clinic or an appointment the following day for non-urgent cases. On a given day, it may impossible for a small building to serve every call that rings. Sometimes it’s bad timing, and the day is already overloaded and it seems like the whole suburb is calling at once. Typically the next day is often light with surgery, but for some reason it’s all coming today.

So whether it’s in your private or professional environment, know that you can say no. If you have a commitment, for example to your son’s swimming lesson after work, that’s important too, you can prioritise that, prioritise your personal time and your family. It’s doesn’t make you a bad colleague or a bad Vet. If your colleague were in the same situation would you begrudge them for leaving at the end of the day? No, you would send them on their way, and the remaining staff will cope, usually excellently so.

Take a breath. Think it through. Can you spare your time today to help that extra patient? If the answers yes? That’s amazing, pat yourself on the back, you’ve lifted today and helped that extra person. But on the days the answer is no, that’s ok too. You are just as important. As is your family, human or furry, who are waiting for you at home.

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