Death to (the word) paperwork!

Death to (the word) paperwork!

How an exercise in veterinary practice semantics can help you transform tedious tasks into endearing endeavors.
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Jul 13, 2018

Think of the terms below as a sort of verbal origami that can breathe new life into the dullest of veterinary tasks. (Shutterstock.com)Are you asking clients to fill out some paperwork?

Each time someone uses that word with me, my head fills with an imaginary collection of dust motes, cobwebs and tedium. The term denotes mind-numbing drudgery, and yet the word seems to be used in all manner of businesses, as demonstrated by this sampling:

“Ready for your liver transplant, Mr. Halow? Let’s go over some paperwork first, and then we’ll get you gassed for that procedure.”

“The Queen of England is just inside these doors. Once we get this privacy protection paperwork out of the way, we’ll be able to go inside and say hi.”

“It certainly is a sad day, Mr. Halow. Your brother was a great guy. If you don’t mind, I’d like to review some paperwork with you, and then we’ll see about getting that hole dug.”

I’ve decided that we need to replace the word paperwork with something that doesn’t make me cringe, and to that end, I’ve come up with some new options. Try them on for size at your practice and watch your clients thrill at the idea of signing up for services at your hospital.

Option No. 1: Document display

“And so, Mr. Halow, without further delay, I’d like to take you over to Gwendolyn, who’ll be showing you the document display. It’s a colorful assembly of various forms, all spread out against a backdrop of polished stainless steel. Are you ready for the eye dance of your life? Prepare to be dazzled!”

Option No. 2: Pen toast

“You know, Mr. Halow, we’ve had such a delightful conversation about Rye’s upcoming lump removal. Can I propose a pen toast? It’s a chance for us to exchange ink together in the form of some signatures. Doing so will help me express how I feel, and it looks like you’re bursting at the seams with emotion too. I know it’s not even lunchtime yet, but whaddya say we throw caution to the wind and go for it?”

Option No. 3: Paper consent football

“With a chill in the autumn air and just in time for Rye’s cruciate surgery, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to join me in the parking lot on the tailgate of my truck. We’ll have hot dogs, Jello shots and a presurgery game of paper consent football during which the two of us will sign documents, fold them into triangles and kick them through a finger goal post into Rye’s medical chart. Are you riding the wave yet, bud?”

In all seriousness, this is the Mars Age—a time when we are traveling to the celestial planet and when the terrestrial company of the same name is ushering in a whole new way of conducting veterinary medicine. Let’s take a step back and closely examine what we’re doing and saying on a daily basis. In our time, we have creatively retooled the word feces into more homespun terms like dookie, poo, tootsie roll and litter box baby, so I think that reinventing the word paperwork, or any of the rest of our antiquated terms or practices, will be a short order for all of us.

Share your thoughts (including new term suggestions for paperwork and other veterinary practice necessary evils) in the comments section below, or as I like to call it, the creative exercise platform. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is owner of Halow Consulting, a frequent speaker at the Fetch veterinary conferences, a regular contributor to dvm360.com and a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member.