Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Be above reproach

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Aug 18, 2008
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Be above reproach

Last week, a classmate of mine called with a horrifying story. Several of his employees had gone out after work to a local watering hole to celebrate one of their birthdays. They left right from work, and several wore scrubs and jackets with the company logo on them. Poor judgment fueled by alcohol led to several members of his staff getting into a loud altercation with some of the other patrons. Punches were thrown, furniture was broken, and four of his staff members were arrested, making the local newspaper’s police blotter. As if this wasn’t enough, the tavern owner approached my classmate seeking payment for the damages. Could this happen to you or your crew?

How many clients do you see each day—eight, nine, a dozen? How many dogs a month do you work with—20, 22, more? How long have you been doing this? When you venture out into your community, more people know you than you would think. You can’t possibly remember all of their names and faces, but all they have to remember is you. How is your behavior in local businesses? Are you patient and polite?

Whether we like it or not, we are ambassadors and representatives of our hospitals (and profession) when we go out. That goes for your staff as well. Are you or your employees driving aggressively in a car with your company emblem? How about littering? The hard truth is that our profession holds us to a standard much higher than that of an average citizen. Our profession expects much more from us. When we are outside the hospital walls, our profession still guides our actions.

My classmate’s incident could happen to any of us. No one asks to be a role model or to be expected to always do the right thing, but remember the choice you have made. You have to be above reproach. If it looks wrong, it is. Talk to your staff and remind them of this. Business is hard enough. Be known for good things—good service, community activities, career days, and children shadowing you—not for your staff getting in a drunken brawl at a local bowling alley or being poor sports on a softball team that your hospital sponsors. Our profession brings responsibilities that don’t stop at the hospital door. Be cool.

See you next week, Kev