Practice in the Real World: The Sermon

Practice in the Real World: The Sermon

Jan 01, 2006

Stanley Dillon looked at the chart. Several charges had been missed the last time Janet Johnson was at the hospital. It seemed so obvious to him.

"Why can't his staff just deal with this? Why can't I just be left alone to do veterinary medicine?" he muttered under his breath.

Today Stan was becoming emotionally cranked. He was a good veterinarian but hated dealing with problems beyond the needs of his patients. Yet even with his clients, it seemed that he was balancing thousands of issues at once. It was driving him crazy.

He walked over to the coffeepot. As he eased the carafe from its seat, he noticed his right hand shaking.

"Was it the coffee, or am I just emotionally exhausted?" he thought as the mahogany-colored stream wiggled erratically into an oversized mug bearing the now weather-beaten moniker of a long forgotten animal ear medication.

Several thoughts came to him at once like a blizzard of disjointed pieces of paper.

"We must have a meeting. I need to lay the law down to staff. We need to get serious around here about a lot of things. We gotta quit giving away our services. We need some sensible protocols. Jamie needs to get her act together. Someone needs to find out how to get more clients in the door. We need to have a meeting—today!"

Jamie Peters walked around the corner with a stack of papers in her hands. Three pencils stuck out of her hair like porcupine quills. They dangled a few centimeters south of a horn-rim barrette that she often wore to work. Jamie was hard working and employed at the Dillon Animal Hospital for about three years. She knew more about the systems and ecology of the hospital than Stan. She had been a warrior from day one. She was under appreciated above all.

She almost bumped into Dr. Dillon as he abruptly pulled to nervous stop right in front of her face.

"Jamie, we need a meeting today. Find some time and call all the staff. We need our annual conclave in the break room ... maybe at 1 p.m."

"Dr. Dillon, we have only half our staff here at any one time," Jamie intoned fully cognizant of the reply hanging on the nip of Stan's tongue.

"Call 'em all up. We need a meeting!" He turned and grabbed a piece of paper and started scribbling an agenda on the back of a client handout.

Jamie stood there watching. The last annual meeting was about 18 months ago when three staff members had quit in the span of four days in October. Since then, Dr. Dillon has often referred to it as Black October.

Jamie hastily assembled the staff. It seemed that most could reluctantly attend. Prior to the meeting trepidation emerged from their murmuring voices like the drying essence of alcohol applied to the skin. Their voices became dry and strained as the sympathetic nervous system of the entire staff was now working in group mode.

Jamie and the few that had been on staff for longer than a few years knew what was in store. Jamie had once described Dr. Dillon's approach to staff meetings as something akin to the incarnation of both J. Edgar Hoover and Billy Sunday.

Jamie put a big sign on the front door. Basically clients either had to turn around and go home or wait until the meeting was over. The phones were put on hold, and the lights in the front were extinguished. This was the general approach for each of these irregular summits. The clinic was now bunkered in and secure from the whims of the unpredictable and demanding public.

The staff members were now sitting on a hastily assembled group of mismatched chairs and stools. As they took their places, Dr. Dillon roamed the sidelines like a building cold front on a winter afternoon. Very soon he would burst forth and rain on the sequestered assemblage.