After college, I returned to the East Coast to begin my career. One of the internships I applied for was at a prestigious veterinarian medical center in New York. This was considered one of the best internships in the country.
During my interview, the head veterinarian asked me two questions. The first was a medical question which I answered easily. The second was more of a question of judgment.
“What would be the first thing you would do if this situation occurred?”
The doctor described a circumstance where a dog is brought in for a second opinion. The animal is receiving high doses of steroids for a presumptive ruptured disc diagnosed by the original veterinarian. On physical exam, it becomes clear the dog never had a ruptured disc, but instead has two ruptured cruciate ligaments in the hind legs. What do you do?
I answered that I would inform the owner of the misdiagnosis, but the head vet corrected me.
“The first thing you do is leave the exam room, call the other veterinarian and warn him about your finding and what the client might do.”
That was my first introduction to the “old boy’s network” that controls much of the practice of veterinary medicine and against which I would battle throughout my career.