Old School, New School: Dr. Greenskin is back and isn’t backing down

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Old School, New School: Dr. Greenskin is back and isn’t backing down

Bullies beware. Time away from the veterinary hospital has given Dr. Greenskin some gumption, and she’s not afraid to use it.
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Apr 10, 2018

Dr. Greenskin takes charge, and Mrs. Actright takes offense. (Illustration by Ryan Ostrander)Dr. Greenskin managed return to the office several days ago. After a sudden (and mostly unexplained) departure from the clinic—and lots of time to stew in her tumultuous feelings at home—she was convinced she was going to walk into an ice-cold work environment full of dirty looks and rolling eyes. She’d been practicing several monologues describing a multitude of issues in her home life requiring her to take off at the last minute, and while not entirely true, these manufactured responses were her best defense at diverting questions and stopping gossip.

After all of this fretting, however, Dr. Greenskin was completely astounded to find … wait for it … nothing. Absolutely nothing had changed. Nobody seemed to even notice that Dr. Greenskin had been absent. The receptionists were still playing on their phones and trading celebrity tabloids between rings on the office line. The technicians were buzzing away, getting things ready for the day while making the most not-suitable-for-work jokes imaginable.

The only thing different was that Dr. Codger was nowhere to be found. He’d said something the last time he was at the hospital about wanting to learn curling before the next Winter Olympics. Despite all of Dr. Greenskin’s doom-and-gloom thinking, not a single zombie was to be found lurking through the clinic. (Zombies? Huh? Read the previous installment at dvm360.com/zombies.)

Dr. Greenskin’s anticlimactic return has given her a dose of reality: Those situations that caused her sleepless nights and ongoing anxiety? Nobody else in the hospital batted an eye. The young doctor wonders if her work (and maybe her personal life) would perhaps be less stressful if she stopped internalizing every conflict as a mortal blow to her character—if she quit blowing every little incident out of proportion in her mind. Dr. Greenskin is beginning to grasp that there’s a balance to be had. Of course, she can’t be flippant about serious situations, but maybe the holes in her crisis sieve should widen just a smidge.

Dr. Greenskin has fallen back into the swing of things without missing a beat and is surprised to find she actually missed a few of her coworkers. It’s refreshing and relieving to be back in the trenches with them. On this particular morning, the hospital is running like a well-oiled machine with on-time appointments and consistent team communication. The day is looking like one of those rare days of practice bliss when clients, patients and team members are all feeling the mojo—until after lunch, when the good vibes come to a screeching halt.

Dr. Greenskin walks by the radiography room just as the most senior technician, Mrs. Actright, is venting to two of the receptionists on break. (Mrs. Who? Find the backstory at dvm360.com/fightorflight.) All three are having a good laugh at Actright’s rant: “That young kid—he thinks he’s so smart with all his fresh schooling! I just ate him up for breakfast! He doesn’t know how to do anything! You should’ve seen him trying to hit a cat vein. He looked terrified—just sweating all over the place!”

The trio cracks up as Actright mimics his shaking hands. “I felt so bad for that poor pincushion of a cat!” the senior technician continues. “Well, who knows what happened with that. I had to get out of there it was so ugly. Later I sent him to the back to clean empty cages so no more animals could be harmed by his stupidity.”

Dr. Greenskin appears in the doorway as Actright’s mocking monologue comes to a close. The technician turns and looks at the young doctor without an ounce of remorse in her eyes. On the contrary, her haughty glare seems to be asking, “What do you have to say about it, kiddo?”

Dr. Greenskin gives the two receptionists a look that sends them scurrying out of the room. Though visibly angry, Dr. Greenskin begins speaking firmly and coolly—a combination she’s never before been able to achieve. “What I just heard is extremely disappointing, Mrs. Actright, both from a team and a patient care perspective,” she says. “Your toxic behavior needs to stop.”

Unmoved by this reproach, Actright sneers, “Well I’m not the one that keeps hiring these kids fresh out of school. You should go talk to the office people!”

Dr. Greenskin ignores the comment and continues: “As our senior technician, you are expected to step in if you think there’s a patient care issue. You are also expected to support younger technicians and coach them as needed. I want you to leave for the day.” She points at the door. “I will speak with Dr. Codger, and he will be in touch with you.”

Actright’s hackles are up now. “You can’t tell me what to do!” she storms. “I’ve been here longer than you’ve been alive!”

The doctor is forced to repeat herself with more firmness. “Leave for the day,” she says evenly. “We’re going to have to continue this discussion later. I am the DVM in charge, and I don’t want you working with my patients today.”

Actright stomps out without another word, leaving an eerie quiet and several wide eyes in her wake. Dr. Greenskin addresses the witnesses: “Some things need to change around here. We’ll get there. For now, let’s finish up our last appointments, and I’ll be in touch with Dr. Codger.” Taking a deep breath, Dr. Greenskin grabs a chart and heads toward the front while two team members long oppressed by Actright’s rule high-five in celebration.

Is Dr. Codger going to blow his top when Actright calls him and goes off (which she is doing at this very moment, of course)? Will Dr. Greenskin have any footing to hold onto as she embarks on this unexpected and out-of-character path? Is she completely losing her mind, or is she finding her voice as a leader? Find out next time, in Old School, New School!