Pocketing A Tasty Trick Of The Trade

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - July 20, 2011
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Over the past couple of years our hospital has had four employees accepted to veterinary medical school. It’s awesome seeing these young, intelligent, motivated individuals achieve such a difficult goal.

The most recent student, Judy, is headed to my alma mater, the University of Minnesota. There she will be immersed in a curriculum that will prepare her for the trials of everyday practice. The journey will be carefully laid out by her instructors, and still she will discover lessons outside of the lessons. It’s these revelations, stumbled upon, that will play a significant role in molding her into a successful veterinarian. I remember each time I stumbled. Come reminisce with me.

The first day I entered my clinical rotations was quite overwhelming. Up to that point, I had been delving through books, working on cadavers and fiddling with the fine intricacies of proper microscope usage.

Did I feel ready for my first real patient? You bet.


Was I ready? Not really. A week into the internal medicine rotation I found myself sleep-deprived and bleary-eyed. Just as one of my five hospitalized cases got discharged, I would suddenly get two more that were even more labor intensive. The only satisfaction I got was looking at my fellow students during morning rounds and seeing that blank stare that I saw each morning in the mirror. Misery truly does love company.

It was on one of these busy days that I learned a very valuable lesson. Exhausted, with only four hours of sleep, I prepared for the first appointment of the day by guzzling down a cup of strong coffee. Within seconds I started to experience the tingling of heightened senses and mental acuity offered by that wonderful brew. A couple of jumping jacks later and a few selfinflicted slaps to my face and I was now ready.

As I walked into the exam room I was immediately greeted by a very friendly yellow Labrador. The next appointment went just as well. In fact, every room I entered, I was welcomed by extremely attentive patients. The owners noticed and a few of them brought it up to my instructor’s attention. Suffice to say, I earned high marks that day.

Why did all the patients like me? I must have been “in the zone.” Reveling in the attributes that made me so successful with my patients I slowly emptied the pockets of my lab coat: calculator, two pens, note pad, paperclip, highlighter and a handful of dog treats. Hmmm, how did the dog treats get in there? It hit me: Could it have been the dog treats in my pocket and not my infectious personality that made me well-liked?

The next day I slipped a few cookies in my pocket and enjoyed another phenomenal day. Aha!


Looking through the veterinary texts piled high in my room, I couldn’t find any reference to the “dog treat in the pocket technique.” Till today, this discovery has me walking into exam rooms with cookie-laden pockets. In fact, our clinic goes through packages of dog treats every week as we readily hand them out to our furry clientele.

As Judy heads off to veterinary school she is well aware of the “treats in the pocket technique.” Maybe it’s now in her textbooks but, then again, maybe not. Either way, she’ll wield this knowledge as well as find her own techniques as she follows her dream into the cold tundra of Minnesota.

Good luck, my padawan.

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