I’m not sure what Doc originally thought the first time I set foot inside his clinic. But if he knew then what he knows now, he might have pondered a little longer before hiring this fresh-outta-school, over-enthusiastic, gun-ho, quirky veterinarian.
The first time I walked into Doc’s clinic it felt like home. I knew it was where I wanted to work. Doc rounded the corner wearing his Dickies coveralls and the type of worn, hard yet genuine and soft smile I’m convinced you can only find in rural America. I introduced myself as “Dr. Hartfield,” a name that still felt foreign on my tongue. But Doc’s warm smile put me at ease, and when he invited me back for an interview, I knew this would be my new home.
I showed up Saturday and spent the day with Doc and his beautiful wife, Denise. Everything about the morning was perfect and it’s a good thing Doc offered me a job because I was coming back Monday either way.
Doc has owned his practice in Cushing, Oklahoma, for 38 years. He has a passion for large animals – mostly horses – but loves to do it all. Not only has he been running a successful veterinary practice for nearly four decades, but he also raises registered purebred Angus cattle.
You’ll rarely see Doc out of his tan Dickie coveralls – hot, cold, rain, shine – those coveralls are less an article of clothing and more an extension of Doc himself. Much like the pot of tea always brewing so a fresh glass of iced tea is always within reach.
In between appointments, you’ll find Doc with his feet up and nose buried in a magazine – Angus, veterinary, tractor, etc. – all the critical subject areas. Where most of us take to Google to learn new things, Doc prefers well-researched, in-depth articles; and he doesn’t know how to turn on a computer. That is probably why he is so much smarter than the rest of us! However, I do want to acknowledge he’s mastered the copy machine at the office, and we are all very proud.
Part of Doc’s charm is his social network. The Cushing clinic is a lot like a coffee shop (pre-Starbucks era) where sexagenarians to octogenarians come to bicker about everything and nothing. One of the regulars is Bill Lawson who enjoys ribbing Doc about cattle breeds, cattle prices, weeds in the pastures and the weather. Most of the time I can’t tell if they’re arguing or agreeing.
Doc and I have also found our own rhythm at the office. We truly enjoy working together, but you wouldn’t last long at our clinic if you’re not a practical joker (or at least a good sport about receiving them).
Case in point: I’m examining a patient when Doc enters the exam room and urgently requests my assistance with his patient. Confused, but accommodating, I agree to postpone my own exam to help when he opens his hands and a ginormous bird comes soaring at my face (the techs say it was actually a small baby bird that fluttered out of Doc’s hands, but for someone that is terrified of birds, it’s the same thing.) Needless to say, I did not keep my composure, much to Doc’s amusement. He says he didn’t know I was actually scared of birds. Likely story, Doc.
Doc also has a strict “one-question-a-day” policy. I break it. Every. Day.
He jokes like he doesn’t want to be bothered, but he makes it clear he’s honored that I seek his advice and of course, I do. I learn something new from Doc every single day.
Doc is a great veterinarian and a great boss. He epitomizes the name “Doc.” I. Love. My. Job. I am sure that I drive Doc crazy with my out-of-the-box ideas and nontraditional cases, but I think deep down he has a soft spot for this crazy, fresh-outta-school, over-enthusiastic, gun-ho, quirky veterinarian.
Doc, you’re the best. I am so glad you hired me. Like my husband told me a few weeks ago, even if you fire me I will probably still show up the next day ready to work, so good luck getting rid of me!