My Experience of a Toxic Work Environment

Published Apr 15, 2021  |  Author: Dr. Laura Catena  |  Topic(s): ,

As a new veterinary graduate from The Ohio State University, my first job was working emergency medicine in a hospital in PA. This is the same practice that while working, I was bit by a cat, and that injury was so severe that it was my motive for developing The ArmOR Hand Gloves. However, that job for me was life-changing in other ways as well. The environment was not friendly or supportive. It lacked mentoring for new graduates. Looking back, I realize it was a toxic environment, but at the time, I didn’t know better. Many lessons were learned and I am grateful for all of them.

First, the day that I was injured, I knew I needed medical attention. But, of course, if I left work to get the care I needed, the hospital would be understaffed. As a result, I waited until my work shift had ended that day. That was my mistake.

The next day when I woke up, my hand was so swollen. I could not move it. The infection had spread from my left hand all the way up to the left side of my neck. There was a red line that traveled up my arm. I was in severe pain. I needed to go back to the hospital because the oral antibiotics that I was discharged with the day prior were not cutting it. My joints in my hand were becoming septic. My left hand was about 3 times the size of my right. Anxiousness set-in – I had to call work and tell them that I would not be able to come in that day. And I remember making that call, and them not fully understanding the severity of the situation. But, this time, I put my well-being first.

When I arrived at the hospital, the infection was so severe, that I needed to have emergency surgery on my left hand. My joints in my hand had to be cleaned out. I was placed on the strongest of IV antibiotics. A PICC line was then placed in my right arm. It was an extremely severe injury – potentially life-threatening and career-ending. The pain was severe. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to practice veterinary medicine again, let alone, the ability and function of my left hand was uncertain.

Of course, I had to call work to relay the severity of my situation to them. And I distinctly remember being asked, “If someone can restrain pets for you, are you able to make it in?” Just an overall lack of care and compassion, that was extremely disheartening to witness. I was in the hospital for a full week, had home health care upon discharge for the continued IV antibiotic treatments in my PICC line, and then had months of physical therapy in order to regain the use of my hand.

I didn’t fully realize, at that time, how toxic the work environment was. However, I am so incredibly grateful for that experience – all of it – because it allowed me to fully understand how vital it is in our profession to work in a place of employment that is supportive, understanding, and compassionate. Never again will I subject myself or any aspect of my health to work in an environment that is negative, condescending, unsupportive, or less than my standard.

We all deserve to work in a healthy environment. If your place of employment is toxic for any reason, there are always, always options. Make yourself and your well-being priority. You deserve it.

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In The Wild

Short, real-life stories of our gloves and their impact.

Dr. Laura Catena

Veterinarian and inventor of The ArmOR Hand Glove.


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The ArmOR Hand Protective Gloves® are bite resistant, not bite proof.
They can decrease the severity of injury, if injury occurs.

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