December 23, 2016

Using Humor in the Veterinary Setting: When it Goes Wrong

Ray Ramirez, DVM, owner and speaker of Ramirezdvm.com, discusses what usually goes wrong when a joke doesn’t work.
By American Veterinarian Editorial Staff


Ray Ramirez, DVM, owner and speaker of Ramirezdvm.com, discusses what usually goes wrong when a joke doesn’t work.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
 
“What usually goes wrong when a joke does not work is usually [not following] rule number one, which is: knowing your audience. [For example], one of the things that we will do in our exam is go through the report card [and] one of the things I will go over is the heart rate. It is usually between 110 and 140 bpm for dogs and cats, and I will tell [the client,] ‘The heart rate was 126 bpm. For my pets that is good, but for you or I, we would be calling the cardiologist.’ Some of them will chuckle, [but] some of them do not get it at all and they give me just a blank stare.
 
Again, [you need to know] your audience. That one client doesn’t know what the normal heart rate is for people.
 
It is interesting to me [is] who I find [does not get it] because that is something that is fairly simple. You do not feel like you are then out on a ledge [though, saying,] ‘Oh, that joke did not work; what am I going to do to recover?’ You just move on.
 
What is interesting to me is [to see] how many of those clients, as I started [making that joke,] that I did not think would get it, [but] they laugh hysterically because I think that maybe they are taking care of family members, [or] maybe parents, or someone who they have to take to the doctor a lot, and so they know what the normal heart rate is. Or, maybe they are taking care of a husband or wife who they have to monitor. And so, they get a little chuckle out of it as we are going through the exam. They realize that their pets are a little bit different, but there are some similarities.
 
The nice thing about that example is that if it does not work and no one laughs, you just move on to the next part of your exam report card.”
 

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