Saturday Jul 30, 2022

Episode 7: Questions Students Asks Veterinarians

Dr. Marc:
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the PET | TAO.FM podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Marc Smith, practicing veterinarian and co-creator of PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products.

I have a special gift for you today. In my practice, I get a lot of kids. They come and they want to watch what I do. They think I do something cool and special. I thought it would be neat to let one of my student interns, Gramm Pollack, Gramm, can you say hi to everybody?

Gramm:
Hello, everyone.

Dr. Marc:
Gramm Pollack, he’s a 10th grader in Nashville, Tennessee. He goes to Nashville Big Picture High School. His parents sent him over to my practice so that Gramm could observe me and what I do each and every day. I thought it would be neat to let Gramm interview me about my veterinary practice and about what I do each and every day. I want you to welcome Gramm Pollack.

Gramm:
Hi, everyone. I only have a couple questions here for Dr. Smith. One of them being what was your original perseverance for becoming a veterinarian? Why did you want to become one?

Dr. Marc:
Gramm, that’s a great question. For everyone out there, his question was why did I want to become a veterinarian. Really, it revolves around a couple of different things. Number 1, I wasn’t a very good student in high school. I liked other things like you probably do. I didn’t like academics. I liked sports. I liked Atari. Do you know what Atari is?

Gramm:
Yes, I love Atari.

Dr. Marc:
I liked girls. I liked doing things besides studying. When I got into college, I thought- my dad’s not going to take care of me forever. I’ve got to do something. I wanted to do something that was hard, that was difficult. It was challenging. Being a veterinarian is very challenging.

I also wanted to do something where I could be outside. I loved large animals at that time, horses, and hogs, and kitties, and dogs, and whatever. Those were really the driving forces behind why I decided to become a veterinarian. I wanted to do something that was difficult and hard. I wanted to have the opportunity to challenge my mind outside. I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day.

Gramm:
Yeah. Along with you becoming a veterinarian and going through all the schoolwork to do that and starting your work on farm animals, what made you want to include holistic treatments into it?

Dr. Marc:
That’s a great question. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my personality. People would come into my practice when I was just a conventional veterinarian. They’d say, “Hey, Dr. Smith, what about acupuncture?” or, “What about herbal medicine? or “What about this?”

Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t have any good answers for them. It didn’t matter whether I …. Everybody wants to think, “Do you believe in that kind of medicine? Does it help? Does it work?” It didn’t matter. I wanted to be able to give people good, credible answers to their questions. That was my goal.

My whole goal of practicing non-conventional veterinary medicine revolves around the fact that I wanted to be able to answer people’s questions. I wanted to mold my practice into giving people what they want. There’s a lot of people, they don’t want conventional medicine.

Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, they don’t want it. I molded my practice philosophy into, “I’m going to give people what they want as opposed to necessarily giving them what I think is the best all the time.” I do do that. I have to pick and choose in what I do. I’m a big believer in giving people what they want and what they want out of the veterinarian.

Gramm:
Along with that, since you’ve recently molded your service into that, would you say you’re still learning as all this is happening?

Dr. Marc:
Gramm, I’m learning each and every day. One of the hard things I’m trying to learn is how to be a better communicator with people. It’s all about the interaction and the relationship you have with people and their pets. The better communicator I become, the better veterinarian I become.

Gramm:
What are some of the most difficult parts of your job?

Dr. Marc:
The most difficult parts of my job are communication, meeting people’s expectations, and dealing with the emotions that come with being a pet owner. That is difficult.

Lots of times, as a guy, we tend to …. Let’s face it. We may not be always emotionally in tune, or emotionally aware. When kitty cat is sick, mommy is emotionally aware. I have to really try to be in tune to that each and every day. That’s been a big-time challenge for me, something that I consistently and constantly work on each and every day.

Gramm:
I’m excited to watch over you every day and help out with your daily tasks. Do you have any questions for me?

Dr. Marc:
Gramm, I’ve got all kind of questions for you. Why did you come to my practice?

Gramm:
I’m interested in a variety of things. Last year at my school …. I’m a sophomore now. Last year at my school, I interned with a Vanderbilt professor for astronomy and physics.

Although I enjoyed that while it lasted, I wanted to explore some of my other interests. I have a lot of those. Besides astronomy, there is a veteranarianism. There was a writing. I’m currently trying to write my own book. There’s also a little bit of journalism in there.

Really, at this point I’ve just wanted to explore veterinarianism because I’ve always had a thing for pets.

Dr. Marc:
You like pets like everybody else.

Gramm:
Pretty much.

Dr. Marc:
That’s good. Everybody likes pets. What is a veterinary-ism?

Gramm:
Veterinarianism just is the study of veterinary medicine and treatments of that manner. I probably just made up a word there, I’m sure.

Dr. Marc:
You said you went and interned under a Vanderbilt professor. You know that I’m a UT fan.

Gramm:
I don’t really watch sports in that manner of UT and Vanderbilt.

Dr. Marc:
It doesn’t matter if it’s sports or not. It’s academics as well.

Gramm:
I don’t have an opinion towards either.

Dr. Marc:
What’s the main thing you’ve learned by being at my clinic? What have you learned?

Gramm:
So far, I’ve just learned to be timely and make sure you know what you’re doing. That’s the main thing so far. I haven’t been there that long as of yet. I know I’ll learn more. Right now just be timely and focus.

Dr. Marc:
Be on time, focus. What else?

Gramm:
Try and be brave, be controlling with the animals. You may have to just control them in general. Hold them so they can get their shots and things like that.

Dr. Marc:
If you’ve taken away one thing, it’s that all dogs bite. You’ve got to be careful.

Gramm:
Yes, sir. That is one thing.

Dr. Marc:
Good. I’m sure your mommy and daddy will be proud of you too.

Gramm:
I hope so.

Dr. Marc:
Let’s take another question from Graham about Dr. Smith, what Dr. Smith does each and every day.

Gramm:
What is your history in the veterinarian field? What did you do first off? What led you to where you are now?

Dr. Marc:
Great question, Gramm. When I was 15 years old, I started in veterinary medicine, riding with the vet, a horse vet. I learned all about …. I didn’t learn all about. I got a good bit of exposure to equine veterinary medicine.

I entered vet school when I was 24. It takes 4 years. I got out when I was 28. I started my own horse practice, working mostly around middle Tennessee, working on all breeds and all different types of horses.

After I’d been doing that for probably, roughly 8 years, I lost a little bit of interest in it. I didn’t like the inefficiency of it. You’ve got to drive a lot. I started to look into doing some different things.

I started doing some small animal. Gradually, I’ve gone from being a conventional veterinarian to being a …. People call me holistic. I don’t really call it that.

I tend to term it more as an integrative veterinarian, or a veterinarian that can treat your animals in a variety of different ways and has expert knowledge in most things that encompass the full realm of veterinary medicine.

Now I’m trying to really be cognizant, and aware of, and really make a focused effort to improve my communication skills, my awareness of people’s relationships with their pets, the human-animal bond and become an expert in communicating about those things.

Gramm:
Over the years you’ve done this, what is 1 thing you can take away from it that you’ve just learned constantly throughout the entire process?

Dr. Marc:
That’s a tough question. One thing I’ve learned is that meeting people’s expectations of taking care of their pet is difficult, but it’s achievable when you improve your communication skills, and listen to the client, and listen to their expectations, and always keep their pet at the forefront of everything I do.

Gramm:
Getting on to more opinionated questions, do you have a favorite type of animal and every type of animal that you’ve worked with, farm animals, or just at home?

Dr. Marc:
Actually, I don’t have a favorite type of animal. I like all animals.

Gramm:
That’s good.

Dr. Marc:
I think all animals deserve our respect, and admiration, and our care, whatever that may be. I don’t really have a favorite type of animal. I like all types of animals.

The best thing I like is the interaction with the client, or the customer and their pet and how that whole interaction works. It’s a challenge every day.

Gramm:
Speaking of that again with challenges and all that, what is a crazy story you can tell us about your workplace over the years?

Dr. Marc:
I’ve got tons of crazy stories. One thing that was crazy is 1 time a long time ago when I worked with 1 of my bosses, or mentors, I had an instance where a lady brought in her kitty cats, her little kittens in a basket. It was covered up.

She wanted my boss, my mentor to take a look at her kittens. She pulled back the cover that was covering the kittens and there were 6 little kitties there, little, little kitties.

Gramm:
Like just born?

Dr. Marc:
Not just born, but probably 3 weeks old. It wasn’t actually the kitties. It was pictures of the kitties. That’s 1 funny story. I’ve had tons of funny stories. That’s the one that sticks out in my mind.

Gramm:
What is your favorite part of this job? Is it working with people? Is it working with pets? What’s your favorite part?

Dr. Marc:
My favorite part is the fact that I have woken up less than a handful of times and not wanted to go to work. It’s not very often that I don’t go to work. Usually when I don’t go to work, it’s because I’ve had something bad happen where I’ve had an outcome that was not desirable and I didn’t want to deal with it.

That happens. I have to force myself to deal with it. My favorite part of my job is the fact that I love it and I look forward to doing it each and every day.

Gramm:
I think I have one final question. Some others might pop up in my head as we keep going here. One more I have on my list and that is what are some skills you’ve learned over the years that you did not have when you were mentoring underneath that other veterinarian?

Dr. Marc:
Skills, you talking about veterinary skills, or skills?

Gramm:
Just general, veterinary, or just general skills, yeah.

Dr. Marc:
Probably the biggest general skill that I’ve learned is I’ve become more attuned to people and what they want. I’ve become overall a whole lot better listener.

For instance, when somebody brings a pet in to me, I try to listen from all angles. What I mean by that is I try to hear what’s wrong with their pet and give what I think’s the best advice.

Then I listen to them and I try to weed out what their desires are, what they want out of our interaction. My ability to deliver that is a constant challenge. I think it helps me bond with people.

People don’t know I do a lot of different things. People frequently don’t know what’s the best for their pet at that particular time. My favorite thing is listening and being able to deliver.

Gramm:
That’s all with the listed questions. I’ll keep thinking of some. Do you have any others for me?

Dr. Marc:
Gramm yes, I do have 1 for you. Today Gramm was watching me do a surgery. He may not like me telling this, but Gramm became lightheaded. Gramm essentially fell out and hit the floor.

Gramm:
I did not hit the floor.

Dr. Marc:
You fell out. The unique thing about that and you don’t need to feel bad, because that happens frequently. Even seasoned people, when they see something that bothers them, they yawn a lot and they pass out. That’s exactly what Gramm did today. That happens, Gramm. Don’t feel bad about it.

Gramm:
I don’t feel bad about it. I know I’ll be seeing other such surgeries and things. I know I’ll get used to it. I won’t do that, hopefully …

Dr. Marc:
… any more. That’s good. One other thing I want to ask you, though, Gramm. When I was a kid, I used to read all these books. On one of my future episodes, I’m going to talk about how these books about animals impacted me.

Can you tell me any specific books you’ve read? I read Benji. I read Where the Red Fern Grows. I read Sounder. Where the Red Fern Grows is my all-time favorite book. I still read it.

Can you tell me any books that you read as a young kid that may have impacted you in veterinary medicine, or impacted you in making your decision to come shadow with me today?

Gramm:
Yeah. One of the major books in that sense that made me at least think about animals and feel bad more than I usually did was Old Yeller.

Dr. Marc:
Old Yeller, that’s a classic, yes.

Gramm:
Just in general, that made me sad and think about it. Then also in elementary school, I always wanted to read a lot of non-fiction even though now it’s not my style. I read a lot of stuff about actually marine animals. That just made me think about animals in general over time.

Dr. Marc:
Cool. That’s awesome. Gramm, I’m sure everybody’s enjoyed listening to you. I want to tell you how much I’ve appreciated you coming. I’ve enjoyed your visiting. I hope you’ve learned a lot. Thank you, everyone for tuning in to episode 7.

If you have anything that you want to learn about, please go to www.pettao.com. Check out our podcast. Also, check out our writing. Have you done that, Gramm?

Gramm:
I’ve done a little bit of it.

Dr. Marc:
You can go and learn all about veterinary medicine and animals, and herbal medicine, and all kind of cool stuff. If any of you listening out there would be nice enough to give us a rating on iTunes, on how you liked my interview with Graham, we would definitely appreciate it. Until next week, so long.

Gramm:
Bye, everyone.

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