Yesterday I found out that somebody who I enjoy seeing very much was feeling disappointed with the care I was giving her pets. She felt like they were still having so many problems, and that maybe another veterinarian could do a better job. Because I have enough years of experience under my belt, I wasn't even a little bit insulted; instead I was tremendously worried that my team and I didn't do a good job of treating frustration. I had already thought last night of a few ways that I might hope to regain her trust, but today I had a revelation about how I would prevent this from happening in the first place in the future with other clients.
what happened today? For about 7 weeks I have been going to physical therapy twice a week. After a visit to a rheumatologist and a frustrating diagnostic session, she recommended physical therapy among other things. While every time I saw Logan, the therapist, I felt better, it seemed really fleeting, like any exercises that I continued to do at home weren't helping and I was back to square one at every visit. Luckily, Logan is a great therapist and I trusted him and felt that I should keep going, but today I knew for sure that I should keep going. Logan did something smart. At my first visit, during my initial evaluation I filled out a long questionnaire about my symptoms and why I was there. Then he asked me to do several things and wrote a bunch of stuff down. Touch your toes, stand on one leg, turn your foot to the right, now the left....so on and so on. Then, unexpectedly today, I filled out the same questionnaire. I did the same tests. Together we compared the results. I had improved significantly. Yay!
I had gotten really frustrated, even depressed thinking that I was always going to struggle with this problem and that no matter what I did it wasn't better. Without an objective way to measure it, I had not really known that I was getting better. To be fair, this isn't a idea for veterinary medicine, it's just one that I had forgotten about until Logan reminded me and I had my own experience.
I feel that studying veterinary medicine gives me a great foundation to understand human medical problems. It makes it possible for me to be a good advocate for myself and makes it easy on my doctors, I don't really expect them to hold my hand and explain things to me. Knowing that my dear client is frustrated reminded me that just because I know what she should expect with her pet's diagnosis, doesn't mean that she does and a run down at every recheck wasn't enough to keep her from getting frustrated with less than 100% resolution of her pet's problems. There is to be a new normal, and she doesn't know what that is.
From now on, I am going to do a better job of giving people a way of knowing if their pets are making progress. It will give me a better way of knowing if what I am doing is working anyway, and then both of us can do better. It's going to start with a questionnaire and a checklist and a little more hand-holding.
Guess what GAH team, a few more checklists are coming your way!