How to be Super-Fast Vet Tech

15 Aug

Work has been insanely busy lately.  Like off-the-heezy, can’t catch your breath, crazy.  We barely rifle through the hospitalized before surgeries, drop-offs, and emergencies are coming through the door–all simultaneously of course.  How does a good vet tech handle it?  I say good, because many vet workers, LVT or not, are just bodies, and not all that fast.  Speed is a skill.  After all you’re just one person and can only do so much and physically move so fast.  Well, obviously I don’t have all the answers–someone tell me if you find the key to keeping up the pace while upholding high standards, but here are some tricks (that I know, and attempt to do) to at least keep your head above water (in no particular order):

keep moving

First things first–you can’t TEACH motivation.  And a good tech is self-directed–we have to be.  But along with the color blast 2motivation and where-with-all to do the things, it’s a good guideline to keep moving.  During a slow spot, the receptionist, for instance will come to the back to chat with you.  Instead of just standing and talking, wash some dishes while you talk, take inventory of what needs filled, clean the wall behind the trash can (there’s always blood there!), start the autoclave–do little things while you conversate.  There is never a time all day long, a good tech can afford to just stand.  If there’s a slow spot before work starts, get the laundry washed and folded, prep and stock.  And during busy times, just do things.  Pick a task (hopefully the highest priority one, and the entire thing) and do it.

prepare

Yes, this does soothe my OCD, but it’s also really important for speed.  Put things in a nice order, and exactly in the phoneme restorationsame spot all the time.  Then everyone will be able to grab what they need quickly.  It seems silly to take the time (on a super-slow day) to sit and put the lids on each Rx bottle, or create bags of to-go-home SQ fluid accessories, but when it’s busy you’ll thank yourself for having things ready to just grab.  And prep the charts–really reception should do this, but let’s be real, you’re going to do it.  Make it easy to just grab a folder and have everything filled out and right there–cage labels included.  Whatever can be done early, should be done early!

anticipate

Vets love this one.  It helps them be faster, which in turn helps everyone go faster, because they are the bottle-neck.  An abscess suddenly walks in the door, while you have 10 other things to do.  Sure, all the necessary stuff is right in the drawer or within easy reach, but it takes a couple of seconds to minutes for the doctor (always with dirty gloves on) to shuffle through a drawer searching for what they’re looking for.  Pull the stuff out ahead of time and have everything you need already out on the counter.  Which brings me to my next item,

Stock

It seems like tedious busy work, but when the syringes aren’t in the drawer, the alcohol bottle is empty, and the Spokane Apt 046pill bottles aren’t in the cupboard, it just takes that much longer to retrieve items for the task at hand.  The doctor shuffles through the drawer not finding what they need, because they aren’t 100% familiar where everything is kept, they have to ask a tech to go through the drawer looking for the item.  Then, after the search, the tech finds that the item isn’t even IN the drawer where it’s supposed to be.  The tech has to walk to a further location (while evryone is held up waiting for the item) to get things to stock the drawer and hand to the doctor = valuable time wasted.

clean

Under the same track is keeping things clean.  From surgery packs to cold sterile to counter tops, everything in there needs to be cleaned right after it’s used.  It doesn’t hurt to be throwing garbage away, tossing things into the wash sink while the vet is suturing and you’re just standing there looking.  Just make sure you’re patient is stable FIRST, that’s all.  Cleaning, and keeping things clean is imperative, and everyone (doctors, LVTs, assistants, receptionists, kennel help) should be doing this all the time.  This is a hospital after all, plus, it helps with the afore-mentioned stocking and prepping.happy maid

stay organized

Honestly, I think this is the key.  I find it imperative to maintain current treatments and to-do lists on the board, on the treatment sheet, in the computer.  All of those places eventually.  Having kennels and carriers labeled immediately, labels on prescriptions, notes of doses, becomes SO helpful.  Especially when it’s overwhelming.  It’s very easy to confuse patents, and what they’ve done (eating habits, BM, etc. . .), certain numbers (vitals, how much injectable medication they’ve had, etc. . .), who needs what, and what is where.  Having a system, and sticking to it helps me be the most efficient and productive.

write things downSummer Begins 2013 021

As sort of an extension of the above, write things.  Sometimes it’s impossible, but try to jot things on the board or treatment sheet or in the computer or file ASAP.  Too many things and too much of a time-crunch creates pressure and confusion.  Take the time to make a note.  You can fix it later, transfer it to the appropriate spot when there’s more time, but it needs to be somewhere other than in your (chaotic) brain.

communicate

On notoriously busy days, tell everyone there may be a wait when they schedule their appointment.  If you’re running behind, just keep the clients informed.  Like a slow restaurant, most people can be understanding of Saturday at Auroabusy-chaos–but only if you seem very apologetic and keep them in the loop.  Also, when you need help make sure to stop and tell your co-workers.  Keep everyone in back informed–write warnings on kennel cards of fractious animals, note special diets, keep the board and treatments current so everyone knows.  Don’t let the hectic atmosphere render you silent, because it slows everyone down and makes clients angry.  It’s much faster to take time to say/write things then fix a problem later.

prioritize

Possibly the most difficult thing on the list.  When a bunch of things are needing done all at once, it’s hard to know where to start.  And even the most educated and experienced employee sometimes pick the wrong thing.  It’s very confusing.  I think my list of do now to save for last would go like this:  Critical care emergencies, surgery, drugs, writing things down, medication, diagnostics, rooming clients, processing labs, answering the phone, clean, prep, eat, chat.  I guess (as of this second, and maybe changing my mind if you asked me again later), but it depends on circumstances too.  So make your best attempt to think about what is the most imperative and what can wait.

And most of all–good luck.  Sometimes it’s just going to be crazy.

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