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Becoming a grumpy old man

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IN theory, I have now reached the age when I should be slowing down and the youngsters should be berating me to hurry up, but it seems to me that the opposite is happening. I've always lived life in the fast-lane – in both my personal and professional life – but, is it just me or is there a general malaise afflicting the younger generation? In the past, my nurses could keep up with me. Now the younger ones, who should in theory be outpacing me, seem to be slowing down. And never having had previous experience with a new graduate, I hadn't observed the speed at which younger vets work; however, having now been working with one for a year, I feel that they can't keep up with me either.

Maybe I'm just too soft and don't crack the whip enough, but I've always allowed a relaxed work environment in which all staff should make decisions based on their observations and come up with a work schedule for themselves. My approach hasn't changed so it must be something else. For example, I leave the nurses to give the morning operations their premeds and go off to do some administrative work. I come back, scrubs on, 20 minutes later, expecting everything to be ready to roll, but that's not the case. If I'm lucky, the new graduate has taken over and is still double- and triple-checking the doses to the nearest microlitre, having worked them out from the datasheets. Then the nurses are often tweeting on their phones. Otherwise, the new graduate sometimes joins in with the nurses. In the past, if there was a job to be done someone used their initiative and got on with it; now it seems nothing gets done unless a directive is issued.

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I suspect there are two basic phenomena at work here. First, modern technology (eg, smart phones and social networking) allows everyone's private life to carry on at work, whereas in the past we would all have had to wait to get home to access a computer or, if we're going to go further back, a landline telephone, (though even I'm not so much of a luddite to say we should go back to those.) And no amount of complaining on my part about the use of mobile phones will turn back the hands of time and drag anyone away from furiously tapping at phones all day.

Secondly, maybe new graduates are understandably used to a much slower pace at college, perhaps with a single operation taking all morning and where the need to move onto the next job is less pressing. Plus, nowadays vet schools seem to indoctrinate students with such a deep fear of litigation and disciplinary procedures that it's no wonder they are fearfully trying to do everything by the book and then double-checking it; such a cautious approach obviously makes procedures take twice as long.

The alternative is that a third phenomenon is actually responsible for this situation. Could it be that I've finally become a grumpy old man?

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