This week on the podcast…
This week on the podcast, Dr. Roark and Stephanie tackle a topic from the mailbag. Dr. Fed Up writes in and asks for help with letting go of their guilt over giving their notice at their new practice. Dr. Fed Up was hired as a new grad and promised support and mentorship. Fast forward to the present where they are often working alone with no other DVM present in the building and tackling a full surgical caseload that they don’t feel confident tackling. Dr. Fed Up wants to quit and move on to something that would be a better fit for them but is struggling with 3 questions – How do I tell them why I am leaving, how much notice do I give and do I feel guilty that the leaders of this practice may have to close a location (temporarily or permanently) due to lack of DVMs?
Let’s get into this…
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May 24, 2023: Trending Technology in the Veterinary in the Veterinary Space
Have you wondered about using AI or wearable technology for pets as part of your practice? Have you wondered if those tools will really save you any time or energy? Communication within and among veterinary hospitals is the key to standing out in the veterinary space. The good news is that many unique, new tools are becoming available to support great communication, even remotely! In this workshop, Dr. Jen Quammen will tell you more about the real application of these growing opportunities and provide her insight to help you foster a loyal client base that will stay with your practice for decades to come.
Stephanie Goss (00:00):
Hey everybody, I am Stephanie Goss and this is another episode of the Uncharted Podcast. So this week on the podcast, Andy and I are tackling another topic from the mailbag. We got a great email from Dr. FedUp who is a new grad working in a big busy practice. It's a multiple doctor private practice with multiple sites within the practice. And this doctor thought that they knew the practice pretty well. They did extensive interviewing, they felt like it was a good culture fit for them, and they got there and things have not been going according to plan. They were promised really great support and mentorship, but by their third day they were thrown onto the schedule with no other doctor present at their location and a full day of surgeries, which really struck Dr. FedUp out. So we are going to dive into their questions, which revolve around how do I give notice if I have decided this is not the right fit for me, and how do I let go of the guilt about leaving and the fact that they are now short doctors and might have to close a location. Let's get into this one.
And now the Uncharted podcast
Dr. Andy Roark (01:13):
And we are back. It's me, Dr. Andy Roark and Stephanie. Crap, I forgot what I was going to say. Goss. Alright, hold on. We're going to pause here for a second. I completely, oh, alright. I'm ready now. Yeah. Okay. No, we're, this time I'm really starting. Here we go. And we are back. It's me, Dr. Andy Roark and Stephanie-Peace-out-Girl-Scout-Goss.
Stephanie Goss (01:46):
This is going to be a good blooper episode.
Dr. Andy Roark (01:49):
Oh man. No, we're, we're going to pull this together and we're going to land it with grace and style.
Stephanie Goss (01:54):
How's it going Andy?
Dr. Andy Roark (01:55):
It's aside from the obvious stumbling on the starting line of this podcast. It's pretty good. It's pretty good. I have been back in the yard because it is beautiful here and I am pulling weeds and getting my yard cleaned up, which I love and it made me think I'm just going to, so one of my favorite things is life lessons from gardening with Dr. Andy Roark and in this episode of Life Lessons from Gardening with Dr. Andy Roark, I always want to talk about two quick things. Number one, over the summer I did not pull weeds in my yard because it's 90 degrees and 90% humidity in South Carolina and it's terrible and I just didn't want to do it of course. And I felt terribly guilty that these weeds were growing in my yard and I was like, this is awful, but I'm not doing it because I don't have the energy and I don't have the time and blah, blah blah.
And then the weather turned and it was beautiful. And in four days I have weeded the yard and gotten everything like trimming stuff back and it's coming back into form so beautifully and making me so happy and I'm so enjoying doing it and I just want to call that out as a metaphor for practice. There are times when the weeds get out of control in our practice because we are so busy, because we have so many things going on because we just don't want to deal with it. That's not failure, that's not the end of the world. That's just the cycles of life. And I think that a lot of us are too hard on ourselves when we look around and we go, God, the break room is dirty and we still haven't figured out this policy and we haven't made this decision yet and I feel like I'm failing.
And the truth is, you can get all that stuff done if you want to, when you want, the time will come around and you can get motivated and you can do it and it will be fine. But beating yourself up because you cannot do anything more than you are doing right now. That does not make sense. And the other metaphor I want to say is I'm looking at this cluster. I've got three bushes, I've got a beautiful Oak leaf and I've got a beauty berry and I've got this other sort of shrub kind of thing that I forget the name of right now. And they're all gorgeous plants. The problem is they're all right on top of each other and the most beautiful thing that I can do for my yard is to get rid of one of these beautiful plants. And I love that analogy because so often in our practice we have three beautiful plants that we're so proud of that are all so wonderful that we really want to take care of. And the truth is the best thing we could possibly do is get rid of one of the beautiful plants and just focus on a smaller number of things. So those things have the space they need to grow and evolve. And so this has been lessons in life Gardening with Andy Roark
Stephanie Goss (04:44):
That. That's it. That's, that's all I got. That started us off on such a deep note. Cause where I was going to go with that was, hey, I saw on social media you had a crate full of puppies.
Dr. Andy Roark (05:01):
I also had crate full of puppies yesterday. They were labrador retriever puppies. No, no good stories there. Just nine of them. Litter of nine, adorable labrador retriever puppies, they all came in a crate. They were a hundred percent asleep too. It was a crate full of sleeping labrador retriever puppies.
Stephanie Goss (05:22):
I was not thinking on the depth of life lessons gardening with Dr. Andy Roark
Dr. Andy Roark (05:30):
Sometimes I forget how I'm going to introduce you because I'm scattered and sometimes I'm too deep. I'm so deep I can't.
Stephanie Goss (05:39):
And yet none of this has, it does have to do with the episode, but it's not the episode. But this is going to be a good one. I'm actually really excited to dive into this one. So we had a letter from the mailbag, actually going to get started, you guys.
Dr. Andy Roark (05:59):
Alright, here we go.
Stephanie Goss (06:01):
We had a letter from the mail bag from Dr. FedUp and I thought that this was so great. So Dr. FedUp is a new grad that took a job at a privately owned practice that they thought that they knew very well. They thought they did their due diligence, knew the clinic, knew the culture, it's a multiple doctor practice and they actually have multiple locations. And this new grad asked all the right questions about mentorship and stuff during their interview process and felt like they were heading into a space where they were going to have strong support and strong mentorship. And they said on my third day of work, I got thrown into one of the practices. There was no other doctor present and I was scheduled with multiple surgeries. And this was the first of many issues that I've since had in this position.
Dr. FedUp says I love the team that I get to work with, but the mentorship that I was very clear that I wanted and needed does not seem to be happening at all. They are rarely scheduled with another doctor for appointments. And they've actually gotten to the point where they have refused to do surgery because more often than not they were getting scheduled to do surgery with no other doctors present. And they just didn't feel comfortable with that as a new grad. And so Dr. FedUp said, I'm now thinking about leaving, but I know that if I leave that there won't be enough doctors left to staff the multiple locations and that the practice may be forced to close one of the practices down. They have already lost another new grad before me for the same reasons that I'm now considering leaving over, which they found out after the fact it sounds like. And so Dr. FedUp's question is, how should I tell them that I'm leaving? How much notice should I give and how do I feel bad if they lose a practice and are forced to close a location because I choose to leave?
Dr. Andy Roark (07:53):
This question kind of made me chuckle when I read it and then we'll talk about why later on. But it was like, Hey, I have told them what I need and they have told me they're not going to give it to me. Should I feel guilty about leaving? And I'm like, no, no, I can't. No, there's a little bit more nuance to that and there's a number of different things that we can do, but the short answer is no. All you can do is tell people where you are and what you need and how you feel and be reasonable and rational and nice and then they're going to do what they're going to do. And you shouldn't feel guilty about that. And it's spoiling the end here. But veterinarians are very good at feeling guilty. We feel guilty about a lot of things. We feel guilty about working a lot. We feel guilty about not working a lot. We feel guilty about taking days off and about not taking days off. We feel guilty about all the things. Yes. And so we really champion this whole, I feel responsible and I don't know if I should. Yeah, let's dive into this. All right, cool.
Stephanie Goss (09:15):
Okay, so let's start. Let's roll back. We've spoiled. We've spoiled it and our end answer is no. We're going to talk through how do we let go of some of the guilt? And I think we have to start with as we always do with headspace.
Dr. Andy Roark (09:29):
And I'm not a hundred percent if this is just what's going on, I don't know that everything is lost yet. I mean maybe it is. We weren't there for the conversation. There's, I think there's a couple of very reasonable latch last dish efforts to try to pull this together and make it work that I think that there's a chance could succeed. So I think we should go in to hit those of trying to ride the ship a little bit, but then we're going to be very comfortable getting into the life raft and pushing off and it it's going to be what it's going to be. So anyway, alright, to your point, let's jump back.
Stephanie Goss (10:04):
Okay, so where do we start from a headspace perspective?
Dr. Andy Roark (10:07):
It is very easy to feel cheated if you are this doctor, right? Sure. To feel, I mean, just based on the story, I can imagine it would be very easy to feel like this is a bait and switch. I was told one thing and it was not true. I was brought here under the pretenses that'd be mentored and then that didn't happen. I got stranded by myself and then they put surgeries on my schedule knowing that I'm a brand new graduate and that's just dangerous and you're putting me in a place where my license could be at stake. It's very easy I think to spiral into some really dark thoughts about the situation. The first thing I would really counsel is the good old-fashioned assume good intent. I don't know. I doubt that there was an evil conspiracy to lure the doctor to the practice and then not do what he or she was told would be done.
I don't tend to, and again, a lot of this is what is helpful for you to believe. It's not helpful for you to believe that there was an evil conspiracy. What's helpful for you to believe is that everybody's doing their best and the practice owners probably thought they'd be able to hire more people. Maybe they thought that they would be able to get more staffing and that hasn't happened. They may owe money on the buildings and they're like, we have got to generate revenue here in order to avoid foreclosure. I have no idea. Neither do you. Right? I do not know what's going on their side of the table and I don't expect them to tell me at the same time, I don't know what's going on. All I can do is make decisions for myself and that's what I'm going to do. So I tend to say things like it's easy to forget what it was like to be a new veterinarian.
It's easy to forget how stressful it could be doing surgery on your own. If you were a very competent, capable new grad, it's probably really easy to forget that you are a brand new grad and just put stuff on your schedule. It's very easy for those things to happen. I think that these guys probably meant to do the things that they promised, suggested these guys, I don't know, I don't the gender of the mysterious owners, but it is very easy for ownership to forget what they plan, what they said, or to feel like we really want to do that. We simply don't have the manpower right now and we will get back to it as soon as we can. Again, it helps me just to assume good intentions and think okay, I don't think they tried to lure me here. The wheels seem to have fallen off on their side for some reason. It probably was not ill intent. They're probably doing their best. That doesn't really change the fact that it's not working for me.
Stephanie Goss (13:03):
Yes, yes, I would agree a hundred percent. And one of the questions that I asked myself to help with that, because as you said Andy it's very easy to get into the head space where you're imagining the evil bosses who are like, haha, screw Dr. FedUp. We're going to leave them by themselves and they're going to be left to defend themselves against the wolves. It's really easy to get into that negative kind of head space. And so one of the mental tricks that I use to combat them for myself is to ask what else could possibly be going on? What else could this possibly mean? And on the opposite side, hallucinate scenarios that could be going on for them, like you said, are they frantically trying to hire and they just can't compete with the corporate clinic down the street, are they or the big private practice right across the road?
Are they managing too many locations and are over their head financially? Think about some of those scenarios because it is way easier to take a deep breath and tap down some of that anger and frustration that you can very easily feel when you're not assuming good intent when you can put it into a little bit of perspective. And so I just like to hallucinate for a second for myself and I just ask myself, what else could be going on? What else could this mean? And explore some of the feelings and emotions that I have given to that, to how I'm feeling about it.
Dr. Andy Roark (14:41):
These hallucinations are not meant to change what you are going to do. No, they're just meant perspective to help you get a healthy perspective on who you're dealing with and how you approach it. And so ultimately I think they very much do change how we communicate, how we say things, how we articulate our needs because we tend to talk to diabolical villains differently than we talk to nice people who have bitten off more than they can chew and they're struggling. And so I think that we tend to be our better selves in the latter case, not in the former case. So yeah, start with good intent. The second thing that we talk about from a headspace is what is kind, and that is a big thing for me personally as sort of a non-confrontational person who has to have hard conversations. What is kind?
And the question was really do I tell them how I'm feeling? What do I say to them? Is it okay that I feel this way? And I would say to them, what do you think is, is it kind for you to not say anything and just go get another job? Or is it kind for you to communicate, Hey, this is what I need to continue to work here and feel like I'm growing and be engaged full stop and give them an opportunity to try to provide me what I need before I go and find something else. I would say the kindest thing is to give them the opportunity to try to give you what you need. So when I think about that, what is kind? I go, yeah, my natural default tendency early in my life was very much not to say anything and then to leave, right? Sure. And that's just where I have grown to a place where I realize that that's not the kindest way to go about it because I tend to, people would end up kind of blindsided and they were like, I, you're leaving and we had no idea and we don't know how to fix this now. And had I said early on in clear and kind terms, Hey, this is what I'm struggling with and I want you to know that I'm having a hard time with this and it's making me stressed out regularly and just leave that.
Stephanie Goss (17:06):
Yeah, I think that's great. And on the flip side of the kind coin, I would ask what is kind for yourself? And this kind of bleeds into the point we were making earlier about the spoiler alert. You shouldn't feel guilty and you have to give up some of that guilt and the responsibility that you're taking on there. And I think the easiest way to do that is to ask what is kind to yourself? Is it kind to yourself to make yourself feel guilty and like you're responsible? Hell no. Cause it is not your circus, not your monkeys. The kinder thing to do is to say, this is what I need and this is what I'm not getting. And if somebody doesn't give you what you need, when you have been very clear and kind in asking for it, why would you feel any guilt or responsibility? It becomes immensely easier to walk away when you have been able to advocate for yourself clearly in that way. And so when I think about what is, I also think what's the kind thing for myself and being able to be very clear is going to give me some of that absolution that I'm looking for.
Dr. Andy Roark (18:19):
Oh no, I love that you say that. I think that is so true. I think the path out of feeling guilt when you leave is to advocate for yourself before you leave. I think a lot of the guilt comes from should I have said something differently? Should I have stayed? What if it gets better later on? What if there was something that I didn't know that they didn't tell me? Yes, almost all of that can go away if you advocate for yourself early on and say, Hey, this is where I am, these, this is what I need to change. And then you can say, I told them all of these things and they knew where I was. They had the opportunity to tell me anything they wanted to tell me. And then they elected to not make these changes or provide these things. And to me that is the key to dropping the guilt is saying, I gave them all the information to make the choice and they made the choice. And so now I'm not going to feel guilty because I told them what was going on. And so to me, and I also love the point you made about when I say what is kind, I am talking about what is kind to all of the affected parties. So in this case I would say, what is kind to the employers? What is kind to you? And also I tend to add in my family, what is kind to my family? Does this work for them?
How disruptive is it for me to uproot and go somewhere else? I'm going to factor that in. I'm not saying I'm going to stay necessarily, but I do want to weigh what is kind to my spouse or my significant other or my kids or whatever, I want to weigh all that stuff in. So all that should factor into what is kind. And then I really come back around to the same place that you do is if you walk through the exercise of I'm assuming these people are good people and they're trying hard and I want to be kind to them. And so I'm going to communicate to them clearly and honestly and candidly where I am, what I need, how I'm feeling, where I am, what I need and how I feel. Then after that, I need to step back and realize and recognize and hold on to the fact that this is not my responsibility.
Meaning no one, no one gave you ,fed up vet, the power to run the practice, right? No one gave you the power to make any changes to what's happening. And so how in the world can you feel responsible? And we talked about this before and it's just been something that I have been thinking a lot about. Veterinarians feel responsible for so many things and the working tool that I'm using right now is the three questions. Did you create this problem? Do you want this problem? And do you benefit from this problem? And if you didn't create it, you don't want it and you don't benefit from it, then I don't think you're responsible for it. And I think that you need to say, that's it. Not my circus. It's not my monkeys. I am not responsible for this. That doesn't mean I don't want to try to help people.
It doesn't mean I'm throwing up my hands, turning my back on people. But as far as me feeling responsible, nope, I didn't make it. I don't want it. I don't benefit from it. Yeah, I'm not responsible. And so that's it. I guess the last part is our friend Phil Richmond says Honesty without empathy is cruelty. And I like that a lot. And so I am going to have a kind, honest conversation with these people. And again, a lot of this, this that's really easy to be honest and empathetic. If I assume good intent, honesty without empathy tends to come when we don't assume good intent. And what that sounds like is people are like, I'm just going to tell 'em, I'm just going to 'em straight out. This is what it is. You can speak the truth and still be rude. Yes, you can speak the truth and still be hurtful. You can speak the truth and still damage relationships and burn bridges. Speaking the truth doesn't absolve you of how we impact other people. And so I am going to speak the truth, but I'm also going to try to do it with empathy and again, assuming good intent. So that's sort of the headspace I guess for me going into this.
Stephanie Goss (22:32):
And I think to that point, one of the reasons why it's hard in the final, I'm going to leave conversation for people to be candid with empathy is that I think a lot of people think that being empathetic means that you have to let what you hear back from the other person affect or change your decision. If I'm empathetic to them and they say, well, we had another vet quit and this is not our fault. I think a lot of people think that empathy means that they have to change because of what is shared with them. And I think that's a mistake that a lot of us made. It's really about being kind and understanding. I can totally understand that and I'm not angry at you guys. I appreciate the opportunity that you gave me as new grad and this is not working for me.
Yeah, I'm going to need to move on. That is very different than giving them the feedback, having them give you reasons why and saying, okay, I guess I'll just suck it up. That's the wrong move too, I think is middle ground where you might hear information and your empathy may lead you to say, maybe I didn't give this a fair shake. Maybe there can be a, maybe there can be a middle ground here. Maybe we can try something different. And if not, that's okay too. But I think that the empathy part comes in giving the information and then just listening and receiving that information with grace. It doesn't mean that you have to change what you're going to ultimately do or the decision that is right for you.
Dr. Andy Roark (24:16):
The difference in emotional empathy and cognitive empathy. And this is a top, this is a concept I've been playing a lot with recently because I feel like it's really valuable and I need to figure out how to weaponize it and use it on vet professionals. But the basic idea goes emotional empathy is sharing the feelings of another person. You know what I mean? Cognitive empathy is understanding their position and where they're coming from. And I think often when we say empathy, people jump to emotional empathy. And guys, I think we may overuse emotional empathy and we may need to adjust a little bit more towards using cognitive empathy. So think about in the exam room, if you're an empath and you lean into emotional empathy, you're going to have just the craziest emotional day. Yes. Because you are feeling the joy of puppies and the sadness of the euthanasia and the fear of the surgery and you're feeling all of these things.
And I go, gosh, that's exhausting and I'm not convinced this really necessary. I think we want to understand the joy of the pet owner and support it and understand the sadness of the person losing their best friend and understand the fear. But think about if you were going for surgery, you don't want your surgeon to be having emotional empathy, but the surgeon's, I'm terrified of, this is really scary stuff. I'm not going to lie. I'm feeling it. I don't want, I want my surgeon, I do not want my surgeon to share my concerns, my and my fears and my anxieties at emotional level. I want them to understand how I feel and be very aware of my fear feelings, but then I want them to go on. And so I think that especially when we start to have these conversations with the employers and we start to say, I want to be empathetic, that doesn't mean that I'm going to get snowballed here.
You know what I mean? And just sucked up into their narrative and go, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry I even brought this up. Like, no, I understand. I am here and I'm listening. I'm really am understanding and trying to understand, and there may be things that make me change my perspective or change my ideas about what is reasonable or why these things happened. And so I'm a hundred percent open to growing my perspective. I mean, that's why we have the conversations. If you're going to a conversation and you're not open to changing your perspective, what are you doing? You're going into monologue is what you're doing and wait quietly while the other person talks so you can continue your monologue and that's not productive. So yeah, so emotional versus cognitive empathy. I'm very much leaning into the cognitive empathy here of help me understand what's going on, how you see it, and I want to learn at the same time while I'm being empathetic to your position, I still need to at least communicate my position to you and see if you're empathetic. And if I'm empathetic to you and you're not empathetic to me, that's that's going to be a hard relationship to make work.
Stephanie Goss (27:13):
So I have some ideas on how to approach this because I think both you and I agree that there may be opportunity to talk this through and make some changes that may move Dr. FedUp into a better position. May not. But if they haven't given up hope completely, I think that there are definitely some solid steps that they can take before we tackle our spoiler of don't feel guilty. Hey friends, I want to make sure that you know about an upcoming workshop that you're not going to want to miss. And I know I say that about a lot of our workshops, but I mean it about this one. Well, I mean about all of them, let's be real. But this one holds a special place dear and dear to my heart. Two reasons, one, my friend Dr. Jen Quamen is leading the workshop. Number two, it's about technology.
And if you've listened to the podcast, what a techno nerd I am. I super excited to have Jen with us. Thanks to our friends at Teve. She is going to be talking on May 24th at 8:00 PM Eastern, so 5:00 PM Pacific about trending technology in the veterinary space. Now, I love technology. We've talked about it on the podcast. We've had guests on the podcast. And one of the conversations that has been going around and around in a lot of the groups I'm in lately has been about chat, G P T or artificial intelligence ai. And so if you've ever wondered about using AI in your practice or if you have wondered about wearable technology for pets, communication tools and techniques that use artificial intelligence or advanced technologies, those are the kind of things that Jen is going to dive into during this workshop because most of us have wondered when we've talked about those technologies, if they actually will save us any time or energy or if they're just a new trend. So Jen is going to dive into some of the things that have come to market, some of the things that are actively being used in veterinary medicine that you might not know about, and ways that we can incorporate technology into the veterinary space in a way that works with us and not against us. So if this sounds like something that you'd love to get in on, head on over to the email@example.com slash events to find out more. We'll see you there. And now back to the podcast.
Dr. Andy Roark (29:34):
All right, let's get into some action steps here. I think we talked a lot about kind of how we feel about this. Okay. What does this conversation look like, Stephanie?
Stephanie Goss (29:43):
Okay, so for me, before we get to the conversation where Dr. FedUp says, I'm done, I quit. Yeah, if is there's anybody else in a similar position to Dr. FedUp who does feel like there's potential to salvage the relationship? Or to your point, Andy, if you are the person who, when you think about what is kind to your yourself and the people in your life, if you're in a position where it would be a big, big problem if you had to move clinics because there isn't another one for 60 miles from your whatever, if you're in a circumstance where you really want to try and make things work in your practice, then I think that there's a few things that are very clear and very kind to try and work through for yourself. And the first one would be I think that especially as a new grad, I think you need to define your expectations for yourself.
Because to me, if you can't write them down and you can't articulate them for yourself, you can't expect anybody else to understand them and let alone meet them. And what I mean by that is as manager, I have worked with a lot of new grads and one of the things I've struggled with in recent years is that I appreciate the vet schools are teaching the students about the concept of mentorship and practice. And yet I will tell you as a manager in part of my interview process, I can count on two hands the number of new grads that were actually able to tell me what mentorship looked like or should feel like for them personally. Far more of them just were like, well, I want mentorship, but when I asked questions, they were absolutely unable to explain what that meant and what they actually wanted. Because mentorship can feel radically different and look radically different for different people as it should because it should be very personalized. And so I think the first step for me is if you are Dr. FedUp or you are a new grad, you've got to be able to define it for yourself. So this is self-reflection 101. Now
Dr. Andy Roark (31:50):
I completely agree with that. I think there's a couple things in vet schools especially, but then also just in our professional in general. I was listening back, I was listening back to a podcast that we did recently just a couple weeks ago, and it's actually one of my favorite ones we've done in a while. I really liked the vet who won't go home. I like that for people who are going to talk to vets who won't go home, and for people who are vets who won't go home, I really like it. But we touched on this there as well. I think that there are a couple of phrases that we have elevated in vet medicine for good reason and good, but we've taught people the words, but the words don't provide clarity enough to be actionable. So we talk about work-life balance, we talk about mental health and we talk about mentorship and everyone knows those words. And we've done a good job of selling people on the importance of those concepts. And I think that, and again, present company included, we talk about the importance of those things all the time, but I don't know that we as a profession or as individuals have done a good job of crystallizing those concepts into requirements, action steps, line items in the company handbook.
So I think that you hit the nail on the head with that is when I say, Hey, I need mentorship. When you say that to me, I have no idea what you mean. And again, and I love mentorship and I'm talking about mentorship all the time. I have have literally a 50 minute lecture I do on mentorship. I have no idea what you're talking about when you say mentorship to
Stephanie Goss (33:19):
Me. Yeah. Because it can mean such radically different things to me. It could mean I want you, Andy, to work with me on every appointment that I do for the first three months because I want you to coach me and tell me what you would do, and I want to talk back and forth. And for another person, it could mean I want to have once a week check-ins just so I can ask questions. Those two things are radically, fundamentally different. And if you have no idea what that means for you, you are setting yourself up for failure regardless of what your environment, also, how your environment also plays into that. So if you can't define it for you, how are you supposed to hold your bosses and your team accountable for delivering it for you? If you can't explain to them what that looks like,
Dr. Andy Roark (34:06):
And I want to be realistic about this too, I don't know that's ever going to be possible that a brand new graduate was going to come out of school and say, this is exactly the mentorship that I need at the frequency that I need it. I didn't have that self-awareness at all. I had no idea what I was getting into. And so I'm not saying, Hey, new grads, you should walk out the door and have a mentorship schedule. No, you should go in with an open heart and mind and say up front, Hey, mentorship is really important. I want to make sure that I'm supported. We're going to have to see what do you guys usually do? Do you have a program for that? Have you done this with other grads? What worked well for you? Yes, I want to ask all those questions, but ultimately the idea for me is let's get in there and see what we're looking at.
And if after two weeks I feel completely terrified and overwhelmed, I'm going to need some handholding. And if I get in there after two weeks and I'm rocking and rolling, then maybe we'll have breakfast every other week just to talk about practice in general and kind of where things are going in long-term skill development. But I'm not going to know which of those I need until I get in there. So no shade to our fed up doctor who's like, I'm not getting what I need. And I didn't communicate that clearly to them at the beginning. I don't know how you would know at the beginning, but I would say that now you're at a place where you can say, this is what I need. We talk a lot about having conversations in our sort of safe acronym. The F is has this person been set up to fail and what here is my fault?
And so sometimes I hear vets complain that they don't get mentorship and they're complaining about the practice owner. And the practice owner has been set up to fail, meaning they don't know what is needed or required. And so in that way, they've been set up to fail. The reason that we think about these things is not so we can bash people or hold court. The reason we think about it is because it can be a very effective communication tool to say, Hey, I'm coming to a place where I'm pretty confident in what I need. And I can articulate that now. And I think when I was getting started, I didn't really know what I needed, but now we've gone enough, we've gone far enough down this path that I can say pretty clearly what the support that I'm going to need to be successful given what you guys are trying to accomplish. And that feels really good, I think.
Stephanie Goss (36:23):
Yeah, no, totally. And so I think to your point, I would not expect a new grad out of school to have all of that, the ability to say, this is what I need because you've never had a job as a vet in a clinic. So how would you know Dr. FedUp is in a position where now they've been there. And so I'm going to use an example that they gave us, which is that clearly they're really not comfortable with doing surgery by themselves. That's a really clear, easy example, concrete. Cause step number two for me is you have to make a list of all of the gaps and be clear and concrete with your examples. So for Dr. FedUp, if being in surgery alone is a deal breaker, then that's a great example. You can tell them not only what it is that you're uncomfortable with, but why it makes you uncomfortable.
I don't feel confident being in surgery about myself because whatever your reason is, if yeah, and the ability to say, I don't need another surgeon in surgery with me, I just need to know that someone's in the building. If something goes completely sideways, whatever it is for you, that is upsetting and that's going to be different in an individual. To be able to give that clear definition is so, so important because then the third step for me is you have to be able to tell them what is the impact. So for you, how does that make you feel? But also what is the risk for your patients? I could very easily hallucinate that Dr. FedUp is worried that if they're doing surgery by themselves and there's no other doctor on the premises, that if something goes sideways that they're worried that their patient could die because they don't have a lifeline, they don't have a phone to friend.
They don't have somebody who they feel like could jump in and help them. And if I was a practice owner and I was hearing someone tell me that that was their concern, that's smacking them in the face with a board. You got to be really on tooth to not understand why that should be a problem. If you are a practice owner, your patient care should be important to you and you should be able to say, oh, duh, I get, that would be crystal clear to me as a practice owner when somebody is telling me not only what is the clear and specific example, but also how is it impacting themselves, their patients, the team, the clients, whichever one of those things or multiple things are being impact that should matter to a hospital leader.
Dr. Andy Roark (38:54):
Yeah, and I agree and we know the power of because, right? There's just a fundamental difference in me coming in and saying, I need to have morning rounds with another doctor every day and me coming in and saying, I need to have morning rounds with a doctor every day because something, and there's a lot of resources shows that honestly, because something doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that you said the word because and gave a justification for what you need. And so being clear about your requirements because, and then give it some weight, give it a consequence, give it some value for if they decide to come along and support you.
Stephanie Goss (39:39):
And then the next step after I ask for what I need, the next step for me would be to ask for clear to ask them for their help and get clear expectations. Like from a smart goal perspective, this is your opportunity to figure out what is reasonable and what can you expect and ask them for what they need and if they agreed to it, because when you interviewed, you felt like they were agreeing that you were going to get mentorship. If you have now defined what mentorship means to you, you've explained to them why it's important to you, you've given them a clear concrete example. If they are agreeing to provide that to you, this is where you need to write it down. It isn't a contract. You're not writing it down to be able to point fingers or lay blame, but you want to eliminate the shades of gray. And by writing it down, you can use that for me as a tool to say, we had this conversation, we wrote it down, feels very black and white. You agreed that there would be somebody on the premises when I was doing surgery by myself. It's now been another two weeks and every single day I've been by myself, I have zero guilt walking away from that conversation. If I have made it clear and I have written it down and they have agreed to it,
Dr. Andy Roark (40:58):
This is often. So we're sort of walking through what we want to accomplish. And I agree with everything that you're saying and how you lay this out in the spirit of setting expectations, know that this might not all be in one conversation. You know what I mean? Especially when you're talking about mentorship. For example, I go to the manager, I go to the practice owner and say, Hey, I need to have a doctor meeting every morning for Dr rounds and blah, blah, blah. They don't know if the other doctors are going to want to have this meeting. You know what I mean? Or can I get a mentor and who they often would say, I don't have the power to commit Dr. So-and-so to meeting every morning and maybe he'll do it, but we have to at least ask him and include him in the conversation.
And so I think that's very, very understandable. I think he absolutely go through these steps. Just recognize I don't want anyone to go into the conversation and be like, here's what I need and here's the consequences of me not getting it. Meaning as far as the fallout for the downside for the practice, and here are my goals and here are the deadlines that I expect to have met. I think you'd be looking at some blank faces who are like, we have no idea if any of this is feasible. We have to sit with this a little bit, and we have to look at the schedule. We have to figure out what's possible. And so I would just say in setting expectations, this is going to be probably more than one conversation. And that's fine.
Stephanie Goss (42:15):
Absolutely. And that for me was where I was going was the last step, which is what is the timeline? So are you asking for something that is going to require involvement from other people, schedule changes? Look, if you were telling me that if I was the practice manager and Dr. FedUp was having this conversation with me, I'd say I hear all of that. Yeah, I am committed to working on this. I am commit. I feel like we can solve this. I need some time. And it would not be an unrealistic ask for Dr. FedUp to say, what does that timeline look like for you? Because they have a right to know, are we talking about we're going to try and change this in the next two weeks or are you talking about someday in the future there might be a doctor here? Because you're not wrong to feel like if doing surgery alone is a deal breaker to you.
And you tell me that as a manager and I'm like, okay, I think I can juggle things around, but for the next month you're going to have to be on your own because I don't have another doctor starting for a month. I would be understanding if you said it's a deal breaker for me, no, I'm not going to do it. And maybe we could still come up with a compromise. Maybe we just don't do surgery for the next 30 days. And maybe that's something we both could agree to, or maybe Dr. FedUp says, I can't wait 30 days. I'm sorry. But then we both sides know. And so the last piece of it in terms of being clear and kind for me is what is the timeline and what can we both agree to here? And then really both sides holding each other accountable so that the deadline doesn't come and go and that resentment start to fester on either side because you haven't circled back to it on the timeline that you both agreed to.
Dr. Andy Roark (43:54):
Yeah. I think this is a great outline for the conversation. I also think you're asking the questions that are pretty clear questions and if they say, when you say, what is the timeline? And they were like a month, I'm not saying you should do it or you should not do it, but at least you have some sort of timeline to talk about. And if a month comes and goes, you can say, you said it was a month and here we are, but all of these things are moving that conversation forward in a productive way. And then also from a guilt management way. Yes. Because if you've walked through these conversations and you said, I told them and they said it was 30 days and then nothing changed, and now I do not feel guilty about leaving. I told them what I needed. They gave me a deadline and then nothing happened. And all of those things are good peace of mind for me. And no one could ever say, Andy didn't communicate, he just bailed. He just quit and found another job and bailed. No one would say that. And I'm not going to say it to myself.
Stephanie Goss (44:57):
Yeah, no, I totally agree. To me, when I was thinking about it and laying it down for myself in prep for this, I thought if you do all of those things and you still don't have your expectation met, why would you feel guilty? Why? Yeah. No,
Dr. Andy Roark (45:12):
I love it.
Stephanie Goss (45:12):
Clear. Clear is kind. You've been clear. Move along. And so I think that brings us to then if you are moving along, what do we do? Or if you're Dr. FedUp and you have no interest in salvaging things because to you it has gone too far, I think Dr. FedUp had asked us three questions which were, how should I tell them that I'm leaving? How much notice do I give and do I feel bad or guilty if they lose a location or a practice because you choose to leave?
Dr. Andy Roark (45:45):
Yeah. This is always an interesting question. People ask me what to tell them, and my answer is not always very popular. And so I'm going to let you answer first and I'll tell you what I tell people, and then you'll immediately be like, oh, I see why people don't like that.
Stephanie Goss (45:59):
To me, this is where clear is kind professional matters, and I don't want to burn my bridges. I always write, and I can tell you this from personal experience, because I have been in this position, I was at a clinic, I gave very clear feedback about things I needed to change. I gave a timeline. The timeline came and went and things were still the way that they had been before we had the conversations. And I said, okay, I'm done. So when I wrote my letter, I said, thank you very much for the opportunities. I have really enjoyed being able to serve the team and the clients at this location, and I wish you guys the best of luck. And then when I had the conversation verbally with them, I said, this is the feedback, this is my why, and I'm sorry if that feels hurtful. I'm sorry if you don't agree with it. I don't really have anything more to say, but I gave them very clear feedback verbally. I chose not to put that in my resignation letter because I do believe that giving a resignation letter, having it be professional, helps you from burning those bridges.
Dr. Andy Roark (47:08):
Yeah. Yeah. What I generally say is, when it comes time to hand in your resignation, I get real selfish in that. I think to myself, what do I want to accomplish in this conversation? What am I trying to do here? And the answers from me are, I want to, in this relationship, I want to do the best that I can to protect my reputation and to not burn bridges because this is a small profession and I move forward with those three. Those are my three objectives. What my objective is not to make the other hospital better, assuming that I'm leaving because I have been clear about what I needed. I'm not getting the mentorship and blah, blah, blah. It's not my job to fix your hospital.
No. There's a risk to me of giving feedback as I leave about here's why I'm leaving. Sure. And there's no reward. And so people really don't like when I say that and they say, but you should use is your chance to give them feedback that maybe will get heard. I think where I would come back around is to say, context matters. If I have done the things that you and I have talked about on this podcast, meaning I have communicated what my needs were and I said, this is what I need to feel comfortable, and those things have not happened, I don't think I have to spell it out in an exit interview or in my letter of You've already given it. I have. Right, exactly. Yeah. I say I have given the feedback and at this point I'm leaving. And my priority shifts from trying to get them to hear the feedback.
Two, protecting my reputation, making sure that they're not going to tank other opportunities that I might come across Sure. In the future. Because again, it's a really small profession and who knows? I said, it's incredible. It's a small profession and you do see people all over the place. And so your manager, now that you're leaving, may he or she might be your manager again at some point like it's right. It happens. So anyway, I get into that and so the context matters. Have I given them feedback getting up to this point? And the answer is yes. Then I've already given the feedback and I'm just a hundred percent trying to salv, maintain as much of the positivity of our relationship as I can as I depart. And then again, this is just breaking up. 1 0 1 is I want to make the other person feel as good as possible just because you never know when your path will cross again.
And so let's try to make this as amicable as it can be and I'm going to go my way and you go your way and that will be that. So I don't know, I guess that's a big thing. The other part of the context for me is what is the relationship that I have with this person? And so if I really feel like the manager went to bat for me and said, Andy, I really, I told you that we would get these things. I am very sorry that they have not been provided. And I want you to know that I totally understand where you're coming from and how you feel. I'm a hundred percent open to having a conversation with that person because I don't feel that my words are going to be used against me. And if they want to ask me things, then I will help them because we have a good relationship and I feel like it's beneficial to my friend. I would do that. I would still agree with you. I'm wary of putting those things down on paper, especially as we start to get into an age of corporate practices and things like that tend to stick around and they may get pushed up the chain or go to other people who don't know me personally and are only seeing these things. That's kind of how I think about how to tell them that I'm leaving. Yeah,
Stephanie Goss (50:48):
Absolutely. And then, so the next question was how much notice do I give in it? It's interesting cause we were talking about this in the uncharted community recently and my answer, my answers, what does your contract say? So for a doctor, that's where I would start. And if your contract doesn't have specific notice guidelines, which would be shocking in this day and age, then I think the debate comes over. The idea of giving two weeks notice and two weeks notice is professional. I think my personal opinion is two weeks notice is professional for a paraprofessional role in a professional role like a veterinarian, a manager. My personal opinion is that four weeks is professional because realistically they're not going to fill the hole in four weeks time, but four weeks at least gives them a chance to put some finger on the bleeding hemorrhaging wound.
Like you know, reshuffling a doctor's schedule is a lot, especially in this day and age where we're booked six to eight weeks out. So if you give me four weeks notice as a manager, that is something that I can work with and that I can a appreciate. And if you're in a position where you can give more than four weeks because you're leaving on what good terms, great. But otherwise, I think four weeks is good because four weeks is a long freaking time if you're already fed up. And it is very easy to shift from a positive headspace to a very toxic headspace in four weeks.
Dr. Andy Roark (52:25):
Yeah, it was an interesting conversation. Uncharted, I think my takeaway was for doctors, the consensus was four to eight weeks, kind of what was it? And I think most of the people in the conversation we're practice owners. So I think we were seeing it on very much on their side of what do you think is good when someone is leaving your practice? And so know that that's kind of the group of Yeah, exactly. So four to eight weeks was kind of the consensus that people put out. And I get that it is very hard to replace people. Now, to me, again, it does go a little bit there. So first of all, what's in your contract? That is the key. And there we've the Kona Shame podcast that I do, I've got a great episode with Lance Rosa, who's a vet and a lawyer, and he talks about, the episode was on sort of new doctor employment contracts or what's new in doctor employment contracts. He talks a lot about termination clauses and there is a lot of stuff going into them now. A lot of the corporate groups have their legal departments who have gotten the memo that vets are really hard to replace. And some people are seeing six month notices you're supposed to give six months notice before you leave. And that's in the contracts
Stephanie Goss (53:39):
Dr. Andy Roark (53:41):
I completely agree. But know that those things are out there. Oh yeah. Hopefully this is not news to you when you try to leave, you go, what? Six months? That's not the time to find this out. So I hope that you picked up on that before you signed the contract. But go look at your contract and see what's there beyond that. And honestly, if you're having these thoughts, that podcast is really great because I asked Lance, what happens if I just leave and we get really into that rabbit hole, which is fun. Yeah. So good stuff to know. What does your contract say? And then Ellen, that the other thing I sort of add into the mix a little bit is what do you think is going to happen after you give your notice? Sure. If you think that this is going to be become a toxic hellhole place to work for you, then I might lean closer to four weeks.
And if you think these guys are generally really cool, and I do really like the manager, I feel like he or she has gone to bat for me again and again. I don't want to leave him in a lurch. I'm not wildly unhappy, but this situation is not getting better. And so I'm going to go, I found another place where I think it's going to work better for me, but I'm going to try to make my exodus as easy on you guys as possible. Then I may end up trying to stay a bit longer. So anyway, I think all those things factor in as, again, context, how you feeling? How do you think you're going to be treated? How do you think this is all going to go down? But four to eight weeks is probably what I generally hear these days.
Stephanie Goss (55:10):
And then the last question was, should I feel bad if they lose a practice because I leave and we spoiled the hell out of this one, but hell no. Yeah, no, this not, your circus is not your monkeys.
Dr. Andy Roark (55:27):
You can'y feel this way. I mean, to me this is, well, this is exactly, this is comparable to you trying to get a pet on her to take home flea prevention repeatedly and they won't do it, and then their pet gets fleed. Do you feel responsible about their pet having fleas? Well, no, I, I told you five times that your pet should be on flea prevention, or in a worse case, heartworm prevention. I can't make you buy this and give it to your pet. Yeah, same thing with the practice. I can't make you do the things that you don't want to do. All I can do is be kind and articulate to them, Hey, this is how I feel. Maybe other doctors feel this way too. I don't know. You might want to check. All I can do is put that stuff forward, you know, lead a horse to water. I can't make 'em drink. And if the horse falls over from dehydration, I mean, I did my best and now I got it. Now I got to go on.
Stephanie Goss (56:24):
Well, and I'll go one step further and say to Dr. FedUp or any doctor who is in this position, the reality, and this is going to maybe sound harsh to some of my managers, but I'm going to drop it anyways. It isn't your job as a doctor to manage their business. That's the manager's job, that's the practice owner's job. And if they succeed or fail in their job, that is a hundred percent on them. That is not on you. And so I could absolutely go to sleep like a baby at night knowing that if I did the things that we talked about here, I would feel zero guilt walking away. Yeah. Because that's not your job. You're a vet, your doctor.
Dr. Andy Roark (57:13):
The only way I can feel any guilt about this at all is if I do not communicate my needs correct to them in a way that they could address them and that that's it. Like, but that's a big box for me. And a lot of people don't do that. They get frustrated. They don't really go and have the serious conversation of, Hey, I just need to talk about how things are going. Yeah, totally. They don't do that. And then I think that there's a, there I could a hundred percent see wrestling with guilt then, because I did, especially if they were surprised that I left. I can see some guilt there. The same thing on the other side. As the manager, I a hundred percent understand guilt in letting someone go if they're surprised to be let go. And we've talked about that. Yes. In a number of other episodes, if something is really not working and someone is not making the cut, I really don't want people to be surprised when they get let go from an organization. Yeah. I feel like they should a hundred percent see it coming, and if they don't see it coming, I didn't do my job, then I do wrestle a little bit with guilt because I'm like, did I not, I not explain this? Did I not? Was I not open enough about, you know, was I not clear and what expectations were like, I feel like I own this if they're surprised going out the door.
Stephanie Goss (58:31):
Yeah, totally. Totally. Oh man. Anyway, this was really fun. Life lessons from the garden.
Dr. Andy Roark (58:41):
I was going to say. And that's how sometimes we have to do pruning life lessons from the garden with Dr. Andy.
Stephanie Goss (58:48):
Oh man, I love it. Have a great week. You guys. Take care.
Dr. Andy Roark (58:51):
See you gang.
Stephanie Goss (58:53):
Well gang, that's a wrap on another episode of the podcast. And as always, this was so fun to dive into the mail bag and answer this question. And I would really love to see more things like this come through the mail bag. If there is something that you would love to have us talk about on the podcast or a question that you are hoping that we might be able to help with, feel free to reach out and send us a message. You can always find the mail bag at the website. The address is uncharted vet.com/mailbag, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care everybody, and have a great week. We'll see you again next time.
Hey, are you guys using wifi still? Can you guys get off the wifi for another 20 minutes until I'm done? Because it's really glitchy. Thank you.
Okay. Dustin's going to have so much fun editing this episode.