20 May 2022

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Atom Splitting

It’s not normal to be waiting for……

When was the atom first split?


I didn’t know either. Google informs me that it was 1932. 


I sat yesterday in front of approximately 100 final year vet students who are shortly to embark on a variety of frontline veterinary roles.  As I listened, contributed, nodded, shook and hung my head the image that formed in my mind was that of our profession being split, just like the atom with an outcome that just like back in 1932, no one could imagine.


Sat alongside me presenting was a recent graduate who is less than a year into his first job. He spoke clearly, passionately and emotionally.  He informed all in the lecture theatre that on the preceding Friday, he mentally cracked. He referred to it as, “my time to break”.


On hearing his words I looked up and attempted to look into as many eyes in the audience as possible. What I saw confused, then chilled, then saddened me.  I saw resignation, acceptance and understanding.  It appeared that ‘mentally breaking’ has been accepted as the norm. A twisted rite of passage.


How the fuck has this been allowed to happen? Why as a profession have we allowed it? What the hell is going on? What are we really doing about it?


I am a hardwired optimist but I predict a combination of poor management, Brexit vet loss, pet ownership explosion, price increase on everything (literally everything) we use in practice, vet loss due to all the above; shortly colliding.  When it does, our veterinary atom in the UK will spectacularly explode.


With my business owners hat on I felt embarrassed.  Parental me wanted to hug this guy.  Guest speaker me grabbed the microphone and I attempted to articulate to all that this is not the way it needs to be.  My words came out in a torrent. I slumped in my chair.


Maybe we need our atom to explode.  The end result can’t be worse than UK veterinary 2022.


I have come into work this morning and wished all my team a good day.  As the day finishes, I will thank all. I will spend the weekend trying once again to work out how we do it better. On Monday I will start a new week with my eyes on our business and my ears listening for a tremendous crash.