Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Integrity: according to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.  It is one of the values that I hold highest in my life, so much so that I will tell a cashier that they have given me too much change.  Charles Marshall said: "Integrity is doing the right thing when you don’t have to—when no one else is looking or will ever know—when there will be no congratulations or recognition for having done so."  He goes on to talk about having integrity even if it means losing a job, money, a friend, or, I would add, a grade.  I think that integrity is important in any profession, but especially in one where life and death are involved.

Building a reputation of honesty and integrity can take years, but can be wiped out with one bad choice or decision.  Making that bad choice early on in a relationship, and you may never recover.  Veterinary medicine is a small world and word gets passed around.

So, what difference does it make if I am honest, even if no one is watching?  For me, I couldn't live with the feeling of being dishonest.  But if you think that some things are no big deal, think about this: you can't be dishonest in one place and honest everywhere else.  A lie inevitably needs another to cover it up.  And getting away with one lie makes it a lot easier to be dishonest in other, possibly more consequential ways.

I have had instances where a student cheats on an exam, and I am sure on some level they are saying to themselves "What difference does it make?  It's just an exam, not real life; who will know?"  Well, first of all, you will know.  But secondly, if you cheat on an exam, how can you be trusted to not 'cheat' elsewhere.  If your DVM asks you to give a treatment, but you don't know how to do it, will you say so, and risk feeling humbled?  Or will you go ahead, not really knowing what to do, risking the patient's health or life?  If you are asked to perform a task that you know as an RVT you are not permitted to do, will you risk losing your job by saying no?  Or will you go against legislation, bylaws and codes of ethics and perform the task?  If your boss asks you to log a drug that you know was not used for a patient, will you do so?  What if you give the wrong drug or the wrong dose, but no one saw.  Will you admit it so that steps can be taken to mitigate the damage?  Or will you just hope like heck that the patient is okay, or that someone else gets blamed?  These are all situations that can (and have) come up for RVTs.  Integrity says that you do what is right, no matter what the cost.  Will you do it? As this article says "Success will come and go, but integrity is forever". 

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