Utilitarian. That’s my ethical outlook, apparently.
Participants in the A-FAVP.1 module of the CertAVP have to analyse their ethical stance by answering a questionnaire, and that’s what I came up as: utilitarian.
I was surprised by the word. It’s not one I’d use to describe my attitudes, but apparently my main focus is on the welfare of the patient as primary concern… I think that’s a good thing.
This is the primary aim, I think, of the A-FAVP.1 part of the CertAVP – self examination and discovery with reference to peer-reviewed literature (now there’s a sound bite or subtitle for something).
I pretty much started out as utilitarian in my ethical outlook, and I don’t think much has changed through the years. This contrasts with my gradual change in political beliefs, which have gradually moved around.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed is how my mode of dress has changed through the years, and I wonder if it not only reflects my experience in the job, but also of my self image and the image of the profession.
Recently I’ve looked in the mirror and wondered about how I look and dress these days when compared to when I started out. I have never been a fan of these “tunics” and resisted wearing them whenever possible. I started out in boiler suits, body warmers, shirts and ties back at vet school like everyone else.
In my first jobs (remember this was the late nineties) I turned up each day in shirt, tie, polished shoes and a lab coat, usually with a personal organiser or an “abridged edition” of a textbook stuffed in a pocket with “cheat sheets” (drug references, charts, etc). This gradually gave way to a more relaxed check shirt and chinos with or without (dependent on my mood) a woollen tie (I kid not). I had a very high exotics caseload so this was often overlaid by very loud scrub tops and scrub hats, to the point where when filming a short piece for local news the cameraman asked if I could change because the pattern in my top was foxing his autofocus.
I should say now that I’m not particularly tall but I find most things in practice a little too low for my liking. I’d prefer work tops and tables to be a couple of inches higher, and I often have to kneel rather than simply bend over to see animals on the floor. The result is that I wear through the knees of standard-issue M&S chinos in somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks – sometimes Iess.
So when I came in to night-work I adopted my current garb, which has proved largely successful, but I do wonder if there are other psychological factors at play.
I wear “work” (plumbers) trousers with padded knees and lots of pockets that are so hard wearing they have been going for years and if they get soiled they can be washed at whatever temperature takes my fancy. This is accompanied by work shoes or boots (steel toe caps – very very useful – I didn’t realise I needed them until I wore them, e.g. for jamming doors open when carrying things), and a scrub top, with or without a matching body-warmer with a good supply of pockets. I have stethoscope, fob watch and pens stuffed in those pockets. A couple of worn USB thumb-drives have replaced the personal-organiser. I do have a retracting lanyard thingumy but haven’t found a sensible use for it.
As I say, I do wonder if there is something psychological behind it. My perception of our image to the public and our clients has changed, which might have happened when I was turned down for a “professionals” mortgage because vets weren’t considered “professionals”, at least by the mortgage company.
There has also been a steady erosion of our feeling of having some sort of status by having managed to become vets. As an example observation, a surprising number of practice web sites have the management at the top of the page with the clinical “talent” further down the list. “Personality” vets in my neck of the woods have been replaced by practice branding. Client loyalty to the staff is being replaced by practice plans. Vet opening hours now rival those of supermarkets, and in some places I have worked there is some sort of competitive throat-cutting as practices compete on price.
The message that diving bitch spay prices gives to people betrays the magnitude of the surgery, and the skill and experience required to pull it off without a hitch.
The commercialisation and “commoditisation” of the profession can only continue when there is increasing incorporation of the profession into large conglomerates with shareholders and accountants as well as (and in some cases rather than) professional partners running things.
Many people do still have respect for the profession, but it’s so hard to keep that self-esteem when people turn up in their pyjamas and spend much of the consult tapping away or even speaking in to their mobile phone.
So maybe the way I look now is partly through experience of wearing through my knees, and partly shifting fashion in the profession again influenced by its self-image?