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A practitioner ponders

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It was when two of my nurses turned up for work one Friday last year wearing foam-rubber red noses that I felt prompted to ponder just how many ‘special days’ we now have in the annual calendar, and if they're worth all the effort. Actually, I don't have any problem with Red Nose Day – it raises a huge amount of money for worthwhile charities and nearly all our clients that day happily contributed to the collection box on the reception desk – but you'll not catch me sporting a fake proboscis! It's not that I’m against the idea, more that I find it difficult to breathe when it's on my nose, and it makes wearing a mask during operating a bit of a challenge.

But what if a staff member wants to participate in every novelty day that comes around? Wrong Trousers Day, perhaps? Yes, we can cope with that, and again it's for a good cause. What about National Save a Spider Day? It's unlikely to find favour in our workplace, as all the nurses seem to suffer from acute arachnophobia as soon as any eight-legged creature larger than a pinhead announces its presence in the practice. And International Talk Like A Pirate Day, which, for the record, falls on September 19 each year, seems somewhat unprofessional (‘Ahoy there, Mrs Jones. Just ye hold that scurvy sea-dog Fido on the table right there whilst I stab him with me cutlass, err, vaccination. Oh-arr, shiver me timbers’). I think not.

But it's not just nominated ‘days’. There are a huge number of special weeks, months or even years identified in the calendar to promote different events; an internet search throws up the most incredible array, leaving one spoilt for choice. Bike To School Week (March), National Heart Month (February), Year of the Dolphin (2007), and many, many more. Too many, some would say, although there is undoubted duplication in some cases. Why have the UK Diabetes Week in June, the US Diabetes Alert Day in March and World Diabetes Day in November? While I'm sure many of these ‘awareness’ events serve a serious purpose in highlighting particular problems, charities or health issues, others appear to be rather hopeful excuses for self-indulgence (National Chocolate Week, anyone?) or little more than thinly veiled advertising (National Chip Week). They no doubt succeed in getting some free column inches in the newspapers and work on the maxim that there's no such thing as bad publicity. One can get caught out by the names at times: National Doodle Day sounds silly – who needs an excuse to scribble as they talk to a client on the phone? Actually, this raises money for an epilepsy charity. And others are perhaps over-optimistic (Be Nice To Nettles Week) or just downright daft – do we really need Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, for example? Enough, perhaps, to make you grind your teeth in frustration – which might, of course, make you want to sign up for Bruxism Awareness Week.

I'm also aware that there's now the annual World Veterinary Day, an undoubtedly worthy event, concentrating as it does on the contribution that vets make to animal health, but I can't help feeling that we're missing a trick. Ignore what I said earlier about there being too many awareness events: it's not sycophantic or self-serving to lobby for something really worthwhile – a special time when everyone is encouraged to deluge truly deserving people with chocolates, flowers and cards. Surely there must be a space in the calendar for the inaugural Appreciate Your Vet Day?

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