A Veterinarians’s View from Mid Career

July 1, 2012 | Feature Interview |

Dr. Robert Lofsky is a veterinarian in mid career.  He was an associate veterinarian for ten years in Toronto and Hamilton.  Three years ago, he opened the Wilmot animal Clinic in
Kitchener.  He currently employs an animal care graduate (Alan Harley) and two part time helpers.

As a young man he was interested in science and biology.  He volunteered in an animal shelter that aided in the healing of sick and abused animals.  His father, a role model by example and a human physician, encouraged him to pursue a career in science and medicine. While at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and after earning a B.sc., he applied
and graduated as a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Lofsky answered the following questions.

What constitutes success for a typical veterinarian?

A successful veterinarian is one who enjoys going to work every day and at the end of the day is able to go home without taking his or her work with them.

What are your areas of expertise and specialty?

I am a primary care practitioner and i don’t have a particular expertise or specialty.  I do have special interest in internal medicine, ophthalmology and dermatology.

What major considerations should young veterinarians be aware of when starting their own practice?

Be patient, it takes time to build up your own practice.  The more things you decide to do yourself to save money means that you will also have less time for the things you really want to do in the practice and elsewhere.

There has to be a balance between the procedures you do regularly and have the skill-set for and those that you should direct to a specialist.

What advice would you give young vets for hiring staff and building a practice?

The team approach is the best way to deliver quality veterinary medicine.  Remember that everyone is important from the kennel staff on up.  You should not treat your staff as if they are disposable.

If there is a problem, everyone should work together to solve it.  Learn to trust your employees to take on tasks assigned to them.

Assess the role professional development courses/seminars should play in a typical practice today.

Every day should be seen as a new learning opportunity and you should try to attend as many courses and seminars as possible.  As new equipment is purchased, take the courses that teach you to maximize their use in the practice.

I attended a seminar recently that addressed a skill-set I use often in my practice.  It is important to identify the procedures you do regularly and those that might be assigned to
‘travelling’ vet surgeons.

What do you tell clients whose pet is suffering and near the end?

That’s tough.you have to empathize with them.  Sometimes they just can’t afford the procedures that might extend their pet’s lives.  As a vet you have to know and accept the options and make these clear for them.you have to guide them and allow them to feel that you and they have done the best they can.  A good indicator for them is to measure the number of ‘good’ days their pet is having versus the ‘not so good’ ones.

In the end you and your client try to do what is best for the pet.

How important is humour, laughter and sharing the lighter moments that occur almost daily in a typical vet practice?

Very important.  Laughter is the best medicine to reduce stress levels especially after a long full day.

What are your final thoughts for younger vets?

Take the time to explain things to your clients.  My staff tell me that clients really appreciate the time I take to explain things to them.

Is there a word or thought that all vets should keep in mind daily in their practices?

When we graduated from veterinary college we were trained to practice thirty years of veterinary medicine not one year thirty times over.

Bottom Line: An interview with a veterinarian in mid career who reveals some lessons he has learned along the way.