The Stories I Tell Myself

I can ruminate over something like a dog worrying a bone. More often than not, that gnawing turns into a story I tell myself. Now in my later years, I’m looking at some of these stories. I’m realizing they might not be honest and true. That’s when I believe I’ve been given an opportunity to grow and renew. That’s when I get a chance to heal an old wound.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” ~ Dr. Seuss

A changing perspective

Setting my roots down in veterinary medicine in the early seventies has given me a perspective that has been changing through the years. Maybe you know what I mean.

We were in some uncharted waters then. But, hell bent women were steering the movement forward.  Structure began to form. Groups started up. Doctors were finding out veterinary technicians were an asset and not a threat. And, once the changes began there was no turning back.

I was fortunate enough to be working in the deep water of my career when the big transformations were happening. The timing was perfect. It was like our role, our position in the lineup, just took off.

Societies changing view on pets

As society began changing its view of animals, the need for healthcare professionals grew. That opened doors that opened other doors, which opened and so on. And once those doors started opening, the race took another turn. It then became a race to keep up with the volume of information coming at us!

Some humbler, mostly solo, veterinary practices got lost along the way. Their focus had been small farming communities with only a limited percentage of small animal care.  And simpler farms disappeared and became much larger operations.

Lots of outside dogs and farm cats started taking up residence in the house. And, techs like me didn’t have to call Howard S. to put Ginger in the milk house because I was making a farm call. Ginger was now in the main house. (Side note: Ginger wanted a piece of my backside when I made a farm call.)

Evolving education

Schools, then, needed to remodel and reframe to keep up with our ever changing role. Some of what I had learned in college was quickly becoming outdated. Good for me was the fact I had gone to a school that put an emphasis in the laboratory.

More schools developed new curriculum to accommodate veterinary technician programs and opportunities expanded for the students graduating from them. It would still be six years after I got out of college, though, before there was certification.

A discussion on the future of Veterinary Technology

About nine years ago I attended an event to discuss the future of veterinary technology. The energy over three days was some amazing electricity.

This gathering was by invitation and attended by a diverse cross section of the veterinary industry.

Since the discussion was centered mainly on education, a big percentage of participants were from academia. Others in attendence were industry representatives, government representatives, technician specialties and DVM’s.

My focus at the time was delivering hospice and palliative care to pets in the home setting. Along with this, I was facilitating pet loss support groups. And still working part time in ECC. There was one technician from shelter medicine.

A national assembly

This “National Dialogue” was facilitated by a professional strategic planning group. A tremendous amount of planning and coordinated effort went into this meeting.

Deep thinking people put their best selves into this workshop/symposium.

For three days we were kept on task in rotating brainstorming groups. At the end of each day were presentations and discussions. We took breaks in between, but I confess. My brain felt like oatmeal as I headed back to my room at the end of each day.

Full disclosure: I’m the typical conference attendee that gets all jazzed up and ready to make meaningful changes when I get home. Hope springs eternal.

A collaborative experience

But, this wasn’t a conference. It was a different, collaborative experience. The group’s diversity had me feeling this was a mighty influential assembly. I’ve always been a trench dog. And it had been an awfully long time since I’d been in school.

We were told there would be a paper published.

The twenty page summit paper came out in November 2013. It was then submitted for publication to The Journal of Veterinary Medical Education.

I was certainly honored to be a part of the conversation. And, I wondered….would any change come of this gathering?  I was told the wheels of academia turn slowly. But, I want to believe, the energy generated over those three days made some headway to further the scope of our profession.

How do you see the changes that have taken place since you’ve started your career? How is your education different from that of some of your younger/older colleagues?

Debates and deliberations on repeat

Our profession has running discussions on working long hours and lack of competitive compensation. Collective voices speak about the lack of recognition with the public. Some see changing nomenclature as a solution to this last issue. It continues to be an ongoing discussion.

Micromanagement, lack of leadership, fatigued in every way…all these and more are conversations on the table in rotation.

I used to spend a lot of time being disappointed at how slow I perceived our profession moving forward. I was deeply discouraged. Why were we still having the same conversations over and over?

This was just a story I was telling myself. I see now, these matters keep rising to the surface because we continue to change. And, each new generation brings something new to the table. These topics resurface so that new eyes can review them.

The wheels turn slowly is what I was told. But, do they? Maybe they turn at the speed that we can support them.

Where are you in the mix?

Do you think you tell yourself stories? And, if you do, those stories might depend on where you are in the stage of your profession.

Are you at the stepping off point? If that’s the case, you might have your own very different set of expectations. Have you looked…just what are your expectations?

Are you in the middle of your career? You might be riding the high. Or maybe you’ve gotten quite weary. Your stories will have a different, perhaps more complex layers.

Or maybe you’re looking to make a radical change. I’ll bet you’ve had some raw discussions with yourself. You’ve had to discover the ‘why’ behind wanting a change. Your stories might have well-worn grooves.

Honest self-discovery can be uncomfortable but worth the experience.

Looking at it all with a fresh eye

I think we must have these discussions on rotation because we are constantly renewing. The trick, I think, is to review these issues as a renewal process. And, to review them in current day context.

When we rethink issues then we aren’t settling for the status quo. And good for the collective us! We continue to reach for a higher wrung on the ladder.  Stagnation will kill your soul. Staying hungry can be a superpower!

The story from a wider view

The story I’m telling myself now has a different measure. I see it more as alignment. I see it more in its perfection. I see it more from a benevolent place. And, I’ve become far more patient when considering change.

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
~ C. JoyBell C.

I think it turns out the wheels turn as slowly or as quickly as they’re supposed to turn. And, I have faith and trust that new generations will continue to be catalysts for moving us forward, for change. And there is a truth. Change is not only good. Change is inevitable.