Viewing others as geodes
What is the connection between the practice of veterinary medicine and geodes? When you think about it, the personalities
of clients, colleagues, neighbors and others that we encounter throughout our lives may be compared to geodes. How so?
On the surface some people may seem to be ordinary, perhaps quiet or shy. Some may seem to have developed a hardened surface
(i.e., thick-skinned), perhaps as self-protection from competition, deception or litigation.
But if we look for opportunities to get to know these individuals, we often become aware of inner qualities of their personality
that attract us to them. We may discover inner beauty characterized by a warm, kind, understanding and generous spirit. No
longer do we consider them as ordinary.
If we look closely, we will often find that, like geodes, each person is unique. Perhaps we can take a lesson from our study
of geodes and practice looking into others as well as looking at them. We are certain to find more than meets the eye.
Viewing ourselves as geodes
Another lesson we can learn from examining geodes is the value of examining our inner desires and conscience.
Just as there is a need to examine our physical heart to detect and correct any problems, there is value in examining our
figurative heart, which is the seat of our emotions.
As practicing veterinarians, likely we recognize the value of developing and manifesting interpersonal skills that help us
make a favorable first impression with others, especially clients.
But if we put ourselves in their shoes and look beyond this surface with the goal of examining our innermost desires, what
kind of person would we likely discover? Would we find inner beauty in context of a warm, kind, understanding and generous
As veterinarians, would we find thoughts and actions motivated by an unselfish and compassionate desire to help others in
need? Would it be obvious that our conscience is guided by ethical principles? Would we find a heartfelt desire to be patient
with our patients, striving to treat them as we would want to be treated?
Or would we find that, as a result of the demands and anxieties associated with our profession and personal lives, we are
starting to become half-hearted in our response to the needs of others?
What if we find indications that, figuratively speaking, hardening (mineralization) of the arteries is impairing our oath
to "practice our profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics?"
What if we find ourselves thinking one thing but speaking another? What if we discover an unhealthy balance between caring
about our patients and caring about our profits?
Recall that the types of materials that penetrated the surface layers of geodes during their formative stages influenced whether
their inner appearance was attractive or unattractive.
Likewise, the types of ethical and moral values that we allow to guide our thoughts, words and actions contribute to our personalities.
But, unlike geodes, our inner appearance is not etched in stone. If we become aware of undesirable facets of our thoughts,
speech or conduct, we can choose to make positive adjustments. The precise prescription for adjustments is dependent on the
accuracy and timeliness of our examination.
However, the cornerstone of changes that will help us sustain a whole-hearted commitment to the welfare of living beings,
animal and human, is application of the time-tested principle of doing for others what we would have others do for us.
Ultimately, the inner beauty of our personality can only be judged by the conduct it dictates or inspires. dvm
(Adapted from an essay published in JAVMA 224: 1755-1756, 2004.)
Carl A. Osborne, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department
of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.
For a complete list of articles by Dr. Osborne, visit