In another type of family-as-coworker relationship, Jake Geis, DVM, and his wife Carolyn Geis, DVM, have practiced together for the past year at the Tyndall Veterinary Clinic, a mixed-animal practice in Tyndall, S.D.
Jake says the arrangement works well, as both parties realized early they needed to “put on a different hat” while working, treating each other as coworkers while communicating and cooperating professionally. They work different cases and frequently do on-farm work, so both say they generally stay out of each other’s way.
During down time at the clinic, their conversations often include discussions of cases and “big picture” thoughts on veterinary practice. At home, however, they have a rule that works well: no more than 10 minutes of work talk. (They’ve also learned that when dining with other family or friends, conversations about surgeries or abscess treatments do not always play well with non-veterinarians.)
On the job, the two know each other’s strengths and draw on them when questions or difficult cases arise. “For example,” Jake says, “Carolyn is a better small-animal surgeon than I’ll probably ever be.”
At work, Carolyn says, the two need to understand each other’s boundaries, practice conflict-resolution skills and sometimes just agree to disagree. She adds that having a close confidant in the workplace provides benefits both professionally and emotionally.
Jake has worked at the clinic for three years and Carolyn for one. They met while in vet school at Iowa State, where Jake was two years ahead. After Jake graduated, they married and he went to work at the Tyndall Clinic while Carolyn returned to school for two more years. When she graduated, an open position at the clinic gave her an opportunity to join the practice. The couple believes those two years of long-distance marriage helps them better appreciate their time together now — on and off the job.
Jake and Carolyn also maintain a blog, at thecowdocs.com, writing and displaying pictures to teach the general public about animal agriculture and their day-to-day work as veterinarians.
See this and other articles on calf-ranch health, dairy reproduction, beef cow nutrition and more in the March-April digital edition of Bovine Veterinarian.