The unsinkable Dr. Mom

The unsinkable Dr. Mom

Others may look askance as you juggle work, a home life, and a gaggle of children, but being a Dr. Mom (or Dr. Dad) offers amazing preparation for the challenges of practice. Here's how to leverage your life lessons at work.
Feb 01, 2005

Dr. Karen Wheeler
It's 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, and our house is in its usual state of controlled chaos. Breakfast bowls are clinking, backpacks are zipping, and comments are flying around the kitchen faster than a budgie on a beak-trim breakaway. Unfortunately, every sentence seems to start with my name.

"Mom, I can't find my jersey, and we have a game right after school." "Mom, the computer keeps shutting down, and my report is due first hour." "Mom, you promised you would fix the tear in my shirt before school."

I run around like a madwoman—sewing and searching, rebuking and rebooting—while the dogs pace nervously back and forth through the kitchen, winding between everyone's legs, hoping someone will remember to feed them before we all bolt out the door.

If the dogs at your house can empathize with the dogs at mine, there's a good chance you're a "Dr. Mom," too. Life is hectic. Life is crazy. We take deep breaths in the car and try to relax as we shift gears from one job to another. When we arrive at the clinic, we're wondering whether the kids caught the bus; when we pull up into the driveway at home, we're still puzzling over the poodle's abnormal profile. We mumble things like, "Rats, I forgot to send lunch money," while we're in surgery, and "Hmm, maybe I should check that boxer for Lyme disease," as we're pulling ticks off the Cub Scouts at camp. Our two worlds bump and grind in a constant struggle to either repel or coalesce.

Now take this crazy duo-life of mom and veterinarian, and bump it up against unmarried veterinarians, 20-something technicians, and childless receptionists in a clinic. What do Dr. Moms say to these folks as they watch us come barreling into the office, wild-eyed and sleep-deprived, slapping on our lab coats and lipstick with plucky resolve? It can be unnerving to see co-workers sidle away—eyebrows arching, shoulders shrugging—mumbling, "And this frazzled creature helps our veterinary practice how, again?"

Don't despair, Dr. Moms! Despite the busyness of our lives, we do help the practice. In fact, you may have more skills and experience than you realize—and you've likely gleaned many lessons from day-to-day life as a mom.

It isn't all about me I once worked with a groomer who, as my mother would say, was very musical. All day long she sang the same old song, "Me. Me. Me. Me." Striking a queenly pose in her doorway, she would impatiently wait for assistance by tap, tap, tapping her foot while the rest of us ran around like terriers on caffeine. The technicians often joked that if the clinic ever caught fire, that groomer would surely be tapping her foot and waiting for help as the building burned down around her.