Making any New Year's resolutions this year? Some of you may have resolved to no longer make any annoyingly ill-timed resolutions; instead saving them for "when I’m damn well ready and not when someone else thinks I should be." I, however, relish the opportunity to turn over the page and at least pretend to start anew.

Wishful thinking, and all that, but who cares? It’s fun to ponder the possibilities of a squeaky clean slate.

This is probably why I love to buy notebooks; a new one for every project, each one a repository for one or two months worth of thoughts before being set aside to languish beside all the others on the end of the shelf in the spare bedroom. I like to think of them as a continuous diary of my resolutions, some surprisingly fruitful, while others are ... well ... utterly abandoned.

But I digress.

The point is this: I’ve been working on my resolutions, as I’m wont to do on the immediate days after the New Year has begun. While most of them always seem to involve pink cloudy, big-picture ambitions, there are some satisfyingly crunchy ones among them. And most of these have to do with very specific, vet-professional self-improvement.

Which is why I raise the issue on this, the second day of the New Year.

Yes, in my quest to show you the real world of vet medicine, I’ve decided to offer you an honest glimpse into where veterinarians like me have a tendency to fall down on the job. So without further ado, here are my vet-related resolutions of 2011. (As always, these are listed in no particular order.)

1. Not to let the journals stack up. It always happens. I have this stack of journals and papers I’m supposed to be reading to keep up with my vet science, and what ends up happening? I have to spend half a Sunday catching up, which means I never get as much done as I really should on those days. Be it resolved that I will no longer let them sit more than a week.

2. Book review? Then there are the books I’ve bought that I really should be plowing through slowly but surely. And I’m not. Here’s where I’m really remiss. The goat medicine and poultry medicine books, in particular, suffer most from neglect. This has got to change.

3. Telephone call-backs. It’s my most serious sin as a veterinarian, I think, of failing to call my clients back in a timely fashion. Now, normally I do, but when I get behind ... everything falls apart.

4. Dress more the part. Yeah, I’m a tad informal. No make-up (not usually, anyhow), hair up in a ponytail, mismatched scrubs and a stethoscope slung lazily like an albatross around my neck. This year I resolve to at least get my scrubs to match. Maybe some mascara. Tidy up the brows. Make sure the hair’s not sticking up. You know?

5. Keep clearer records. This is my second biggest failing. In my defense, the problem is that I need computerized medical records. Writing fast is just not conducive to effective record-keeping. I will, however, clean it up somewhat, as I continue to press my bosses for electronic records in the meantime.

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These are my resolutions. Do you have any you’d like to suggest that your veterinarian take on? Are you needing to make some animal-related resolutions of your own? 'Fess up!

Dr. Patty Khuly


Pic of the day: Oliver After Weight Training by Mr. T in DC