Pretty much throughout my work life, I harbored the idea that if you could not get your duties done within your assigned work shift, reexamination of your workload and work habits should ensue. Sure, there are the occasions of special projects and the occasional days when the work load is unusually heavy, but those are the exception and not the rule.   As with most inaccurate concepts, reality introduces the truth. It is a relatively easy concept when you are employed by others, but I have realized such ideas and habits become a thing of the past when you are the owner of a business. For me, days start early and sometimes bleed and blend into the next. 

The challenging and exciting part of my job are the patients and their evaluation. Some cases are straight forward and the challenge is not to over think them. Then there are the cases when 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4, at least from the first look.  Those are the cases in which the patient declined to read the pertaining chapters of the text book and don’t realize they are exhibiting signs and symptoms inconsistent with their diagnosis.  Many a case has kept me awake at night looking for that one element which not only makes sense of the situation, but eliminates as much doubt as possible about my diagnosis and treatment.  Late night reviews of medical records and text are all part of the job.  To do the job right, you have to put in the work. I read and reread my exam notes and diagnostic test results.  Sometimes answers come with a bit of deductive reasoning or I realize more information is needed. Other times, a referral to a specialist is the best option. Sometimes there is no answer, only the inevitable. The next step is sharing your findings with the client.

A good diagnosis is always easier to deliver, so the challenge is delivering the not so good diagnosis. Some clients trust me implicitly, which makes it much easier, while others offer differing levels of acceptance and understanding. I always encourage my clients to ask questions. The better understood the diagnosis and the treatment plan, the more potential success we will have.  Certain individuals take it to the extreme and want to know every permutation of what happens if they do or don’t follow my advice or what would I do if it were my pet? In such cases I reiterate my role is to diagnose, advise, and answer questions; not to make decisions for them. Then there are the clients who don’t want treatment, medications, or to institute any changes in their pet’s lives to improve their condition, while seeming resentful and blaming me for making the diagnosis.  I try and take additional time with them in hopes of a change of heart and mind.  More often than not I am unsuccessful in my efforts and let them know I am willing to continue offering help, while accepting they must make the ultimate choice of action or inaction as well as living with the consequences. If they choose not to trust 30 years of experience, 7seven years of schooling, and over $40,000.00 in student loans, so be it.

I realize every case and client are unique.  Just as I would appreciate if I were in their shoes, I would try to be open and give people and their pets the benefit of the doubt and the time needed as they go through a very difficult period. This is why they call it the practice of medicine; though you try your best, you don’t always get it completely right.

Dr. Pierre B. Bland is a small animal practitioner who offers office and house call appointments to his clients.  His offices are located at 3225 N. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and can be reached at 954 673-8579.