Tag Archives: Aurora Vet Hospital

The Higher the Volume, the More Quality is Sacrificed

16 Sep

Yeah, I said it.  I’m a big believer in that statement.  In all areas:  The more time you spend exercising, the less time there is for studying.  The more you work on your car, the less time you’re spending with the family.  The more kids you have, the less quality time each one of those kids is allotted.  More clients that come in the door means less time for each individual animal.

I especially, think it’s true that quality of care begins to suffer when you can not, will not, or do not say no to people.  I’m talking about work at a vet hospital now.  People want an appointment on the same day they call, with all the high quality service and care available–and for free if they can get it.  That does NOT mean they should be accommodated on all those fronts.

I’m worried that saying anything about this makes people perceive me as incompetent at my job.  Which, in most cases, is NOT true.  I work as fast as I can and do a good job at what I attempt.  I would say the only way I could work any faster is to get to work an hour earlier earlier then I already do, take NO lunch at all, and stay late.  Which would stress me out!  I would hate that a lot.  I have many skills.  I really, don’t have to type all of them out for you.  If I did not have an appropriate skill set, I would not have gotten so many jobs at small animal private practices.  And I would not have kept those jobs.

It seems there is scuttle on all sides of my current job that people want MORE patients to care for:  The book-keeper implicitly states this by never saying no to anyone.  No matter how busy the schedule, how overwhelmed she (and we) feels, or whether it’s a never-seen-before client without money–they get in that same day most times.  The main receptionist wants concurrent tech appointments with the vet appointments, and the brand new assistant wants to do higher difficulty skills such as cystos and intibations (I don’t know how to spell that, obviously).

I feel like instead of trying to get MORE people in the door to our small-staffed, and limited size hospital, we should focus instead on improving our current standards of care.  We can always be better at we we are doing NOW.  And be better about the computer and maintenance items.  When we do not completely bleach out isolation, surgery, or possibly contagious cat areas EVERY time, I don’t think we should be bringing in MORE clients.  When we do not make confirmation phone calls, send welcome letters to new clients, and have all the inventory codes fixed in the computer system, I don’t think we should try to double book people.  When one person is trying to keep up on inventory, one on all the book-work, and the vets can’t keep their pile of doom–write ups and phone calls to a minimum–I don’t think we should add more volume to it.  It’s not that we currently do a BAD job.  But certainly things can be better, run more smoothly, and the standard of care can always be raised.  Always.

Plus, logistically, we could barely do any more then we already anyway.  Just for space issues alone: 2 exam rooms, 19 kennels (IF we rearranged 6 of them), one treatment table.  Getting more people in there would just be. . .  Worse.

Anyway, no matter my skills as an assistant–or I would dare say no matter the skills if even an LVT–we are not vets.  There is a reason vets have to maintain a license to practice.  The states set up education and career standards for good reason as well.  Vet school curriculum teaches and tests certain areas for the same well-thought reasons.  I don’t really think we techs/assistants should be doing the highly skilled tasks.  Confidence does not equate to skill.  And confidence does not automatically equal actual knowledge.  I (and the clients) like a very personally invested veterinarian who takes the time to look at even non-critical cases that do not specifically require their license.  It’s called personalized care–and that’s one of the best things about the veterinary field.  But you get a higher volume that emphasizes speed and business over the personal touch, and it turns to Banfield in a hurry.

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Lessons Learned (turned into frustrated rant)

12 Apr

Maybe the wrong one in a perfect world, but the system is flawed.

100% True Statement:  I worked my A$$ off for veterinary hospitals all my (employed) life.

Go ahead, click on my blog’s search bar or in these tags.  Type in DVVH to see how hard I worked–and gave my life to that hospital, only to have my boss/former-mentor go through a midlife crises and refuse to write me ANY letter for my veterinary application.  I guess if you catch your closeted boss cheating on her wife with your hairdresser (and a mother of 3), hostility will ensue.  In Seattle, I volunteered for the weekend kennel duties that no one else wanted to do.  At my current job, I, at first, took the cleaning position (impossible to fill) that was set up for off hours.  And type in Noah’s Ark to get an idea of the crazy schedule I worked for 6 years.  And an idea of how shitty some of my coworkers–and the younger vets–were.  And how those same co-workers are finishing up vet school right now.

My first nine-ten years as a veterinary assistant, I was always the first to volunteer to work weekends and holidays.  I ALWAYS worked extra when the hospital needed it.  I understand the value of teamwork, and knew the position the veterinary business-owners were in.  I knew I should look at the bigger picture.  Every time some flake quit and we were short-staffed, or someone refused to do a bit extra for the good of the business and the good of their co-workers, or if the schedule got overbooked and overwhelmed–I stepped up.  I was always one going above and beyond.

Though, I hardly ever got anything out of this (extra money, bonus pay/trinkets, make-up time off, put on the “good-list”) I looked ahead.  Back then, it was enough to know that in the end all the effort and sacrifice would be worth it–I would realize my dream of being a vet.  One day, I would make my OWN rules.  And they would be superior.  MY hospital would not have these same problems, because I lived through them as a grunt.  I did the hard work so I knew I was bound to reap all the benefits.

Vet school admissions did not care. Instead they rewarded my flaky, absentee, and dead-beat co-workers who only sort of worked. My hard work got me nothing but tired, bitter, in debt (low pay, high school loans) and rejected from veterinary school.  As a matter of fact, I would blame a lot of the extra working and stepping up for my lack of 4.0 GPA that got me HERE.  “Here,” being 28 years old, paying impossibly high undergrad loans, in a dead-end job with low pay/high stress, in SpoCompton, and starting over from the very beginning on a new career.

Lesson 1:  Loyalty and dedication will get you–nowhere.

Since my dream has alluded me, I am much more wise to the cost-benefit scenario.  Which is why I just refuse to let the vet hospital I work for right now (or any vet hospital ever again) to use me up.  When it comes down to it people are going to look after their own self interests.  This is not good or bad necessarily–just human nature.  As long as your boss isn’t directly affected by a short staff or tasks undone, they don’t care if the work-load is unequal.  They will approach the weaker links and guilt them into doing more then normal, in the name of trust and respect.

Lesson 2:  The employees that go above and beyond, work hard, help extra, get things done fast–are exploited.  

Fact A)  If you are lazy, adhere strictly to your schedule, refuse to trade or accommodate others:  The boss will stop asking you to do so.  Sure they see it as not trusting/respecting/depending on you, but in effect–you are rewarded, by NOT having to do any more then the bare minimum to keep your job.

Example A)  People that went on, or are going to go on, vacation are complaining about working extra when it is someone else’s turn for vacation.  To amend this Employer, first, uses snide comments to employee with impending day off.  Secondly, tries guilting employee to get them to work MORE than the previously discussed extra days.  Third, tells whiny employees to call co-worker into work on their (my) day off.  And I’m certain, finally gives the cold-shoulder to “lazy” employee who had the audacity to take their normal day off while someone else was on vacation.

As a side-note:  I DID go in to work on my day off.  It didn’t sit well either because I was the first employee there on the “crazy-busy day.”  There were 4 hospitalized cats.  The schedule showed one dental, then 3 appointments starting late morning–one was a recheck and one was a simple drain removal.  Ummm–I suppose “crazy-busy” is subjective.  The tech pretended she didn’t even have a CLUE I was called into work.  Until the other co-worker came in, and she said, “she did get your message” and I knew that at least those two had discussed my coming in.  And everyone acted like–you should be here, not thankful in the least.  One of our doctors called and my co-worker said, “She did show up.”  *insert snarky tone* So I knew my boss and all my co-workers had been conspiring against me, and looking down on me for (intending on) taking my normal time off.  Anyway, I cleaned all the cages, started laundry, and finished setting up for the only procedure of the morning–by myself.  Then, the answering machine was checked and the dental had cancelled.  So I had come in (out of guilt) on my day off, to clean 4 cages and start laundry. . .  The tech said, “Aren’t we lucky?!”  Then looked at me and said, “Well you’re probably wondering why you’re here now.”  And I said, “Somebody is lucky, but I don’t think I’m a part of that ‘we.'”  And I just left then and there.  What a waste of gas.

Which brings me back to my point of everyone only looking out for themselves.  So the employer LET everyone go on vacation during the same month.  When you approved simultaneous vacations, you made a conscious choice–I had no part in that decision, so I should have no part in that decision’s consequences either.  Not my fault, so it shouldn’t be my problem.  Maybe the boss should have come in on HER day off to help clean cages and start laundry?  Why should I (or anyone else) have to forgo their normal time off?  What do I GET out of it?  You shouldn’t offer vacation time if you have no back-up plan, anyway.  If you can’t schedule accordingly or have a substitute when people are absent, let people TRADE for strings of days off.  If the tech wants days A, B, and C off she could trade the assistant for days D, E, and F.  And it’s up to those two to work out which days work for both of them (with employer approval of course).  No day is left short, and two people have taken strings of days off.  Winning.

Fact B)  It’s true, when it comes right down to it co-workers are going to look after their own schedule, make sure their own vacations are plausible, and do however much, however fast they are comfortable with, no matter the burden on you, the business, and everybody else.

Example B)  So you want Thursday, Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday off (just for the summer!) and want me to give up my Thursday-day-off to accommodate YOU?  And you had the worst timing ever, asking during the short-staffed month, when semester projects and finals are impending for school.  Honestly, what kind of reaction were you expecting during this time of high stress???  This is not a mutually beneficial scenario.  Not only did I apply for all my vacation time so it is expanded by my day and a half off, but I am still the ONLY employee to work every Saturday.  WHY IS EVERYONE, BOSS INCLUDED, SO QUICK TO FORGET THAT?!  In addition, I would still have to fight (see previous sentence) to get my half day off–every friggin’ week.  People, I have a weekly half day off because I work all Saturdays.  All. Of. Them.

AND trading days off with you would then get put smack dab in the middle of a week–which sucks.  Wednesday only works for you, because you already have TWO full days off, and every other Saturday off (a better schedule then my current one).  And, worst of all if I traded around with you I would have to work with Dr.  “Makes me effing crazy.”  Three.  Days.  In.  A.  Row on some weeks.  I would have to be institutionalized.  Serious–no exaggeration.  My answer is N-O, and I think it was disrespectful and selfish for you to even ask me and then for you to act chilly toward me when I gave you my honest reason for not wanting to.  And why put it all on me anyway?  Ask the receptionist to work out an A and B schedule with you–since you two already rotate Saturdays.  If you offered to work some of her Fridays so she could have Friday through Monday off every other week, things might work out well for BOTH of you.  I don’t need to be involved at all.

I can compromise.  Compromise being doing something I don’t really love, in exchange for getting something back–that the other party may not love.  I can compromise.  And I will.  But I’m no longer going to put myself in a lose-lose position.  I will mentally run a cost-benefit and fairness analysis first.

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A Fair Shake

7 Apr

My posts make it sounds like I hate my job and everybody there.  This is not the case.

The frustration with this (and ANY) vet hospital is the culmination of 12 ish years getting a raw deal in assorted ways:

DVVH:  I was constantly told I was THE most dedicated employee who went above and beyond at my job, yet I didn’t get a raise for two and a half years–and then it was +0.30 cents above my minimum wage salary.  I worked all holidays–without any overtime pay.  We regularly stayed a minimum of an hour later then we were told.  We were regularly understaffed.

Noah’s Ark:  I was constantly making up for the negligence, in either attendance or competent work, of my co-workers (who then waltzed into vet school).  My schedule WORE.  Me.  Out.  Once, I worked over 30 days in a row (see hog blog).  I had to work a lot of hours all the time, every other Saturday and twice a day Sunday, and extra on every holiday.  I did take a couple of trips, missing work, during my employment, but I had to FIGHT to get them. . .  And endure being on the “bad list” before and after each of them.  Also, I ate my lunch on the run–pretty much as I was working–all 6 years.

Emergency:  Luckily, I worked only 2 days a week.  On these days, I worked (very short staffed) without a lunch OR dinner break for 12 hours straight.  When I say break, I don’t mean a legit sit down and stop working while I have a full-on meal or *gasp* leave the premesis, I mean any time at all even to grab something to eat.  They understaffed dramatically!  They would write my checks out for random amounts (always shorting me) so I had to keep an eye on my hours and regularly e-mail about getting more of my money.

Aurora:  We were over-scheduled to a point, that in order to do the expected daily cleaning tasks I would have to come in an hour early, after work closed (can’t mop when anyone is in the building!), or Sundays.  Lunches were always cut into, because they would schedule either vet or tech appointments right through that time.  I would be working my a$$ off while the “office manager” strutted around as a peacock, and the oldest employees (vets included) would play on their phones/internet.  We should have had enough staff, but if you only count people that actually worked–we were drastically under-staffed.

Those are negative things I can think of at the moment anyway.  AND there were good things, for major example:  My twice-three times yearly bonus checks at Noah’s Ark.  We’re talking $3,000 to $4,000 checks, here x multiple times a year.  That is awesome, and I appreat(ed) them very, very much.  In fact, because of those bonuses, I can hardly criticize my employers at Noah’s Ark at all.  I’m sure I have an overabundance of bad stories about each place though.  You just hear it about my current job, because that’s where I am day in day out, and because now I have this blog forum.  Believe me, this is the best of any vet job I’ve had.  It’s just the way all vet hospitals are run that has made me tired of taking the crap.

And as for the doctor I don’t like to work with currently:  Dr. Pig-Sty, Dr. Noncommunication, Dr. No-Time-Managment Skills.  Whatever you want to call her–is someone whose WORK style I cannot stand.  But I think she’s a nice person.  It’s not that I don’t like her at all.  Now, Ev in Seattle–I didn’t like at all.  The vet at emergency–I thought was negligent and too gruff/antisocial.  Mary doesn’t really count since she and I had a major (personal) falling out, due to her mid-life crises, but I liked working for her the first time around, and I think (when she does show up to work) she’s the best veterinarian I’ve worked for.  THIS vet–at least has a decent personality.  I like to have conversations with her.  She’s interested in feminism, in fitness, in news–she has interesting things to say.  I could see having a beer and a chat with her.  She just makes me effing crazy at work.

WORSE Jobs Then Mine

17 Feb

In the interest in enjoying MY job again, here is a list of things that would be even worse:

Job at a sewage treatment plant.

Addiction counselor at a homeless shelter.

Working as a janitor at Wal-Mart.  Check that–just working at Wal-Mart.

Past veterinary jobs I’ve had:  Emergency where I would work 12 hour shifts with literally no breaks, AND the doctors would be MIA, Aurora vet hospital with pretentious and entitled clients and cold co-workers, DVVH with a mid-life crises boss who scape-goated me, or even Noah’s Ark where I had to spend 3-6 hours per day walking/cleaning/treating a high volume of animals with irresponsible co-workers.

Any night job.  9 PM-4:30 AM will.  Not.  Work.

Daycare or preschool aide working with toddlers.

Working at the food stamp office, DMV, or any other disgruntled government operation.

Any type of engineer or mathematician.

Sales–especially if travel is required.

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MY Hospital [Part 2: Physical Hospital Organization]

29 Oct

-keep hospital name, number, address, and vets on walls by all phones

-play classical music in reception.

-in reception, have a gift shop with leashes, treats, books, etc. . .

-keep dog scale in reception to be easily accessible

-hang price sheets by phone

-have file boxes for prescriptions, drop offs, hospitalization, surgery, and boarding in back

-have file boxes in reception for drop off, hospital, surgery, and boarding going home that day

-in reception, have mail-box-type square slots for multiple filled prescriptions–behind some sort of locak-able door?

-in reception, have a file box for “to-be filed” records

-no clutter on reception counter, exam rooms, etc. . .

-have breath mints, lint brush, outside exam rooms

-have slot for files outside each exam room door

-have each exam room stocked identically

-have cat exam room with scale and cat stuff inside

-don’t store product/hospital supplies in exam rooms

-keep a mini fridge in each exam room with vax

-in pharmacy, have a list taped to doors of what meds are in each cabinet and what shelf it’s on

-in cupboard have names of drugs typed on shelf where it belongs

-have a tiny fridge just for meds

-inside pharmacy cabinets have rows labeled for specific meds

-put a whiteboard by all phones in the back

-have a bulletin board in back with vet names on top for phone messages

-1 book for each logged controlled substance—all stored in an accordion “pendiflex” file

-have internet access in common area that can be monitored

-have a treatment board for hospital meds and squares to be checked off twice a day

-have a separate board for routine vax

-have a surgery board that displays pet first and last name, weight and results of mandatory pre-surgery blood work

-also have a scale in back near sx prep area

-use colored letter stickers with first 2 letters of owner last name on radiographs

– type radiograph labels in consistent manner

-on radiograph envelope, mark first and last name of animal, date each radiograph is taken, what part was radiographed, and vet who ordered/took it

-keep sheet next to processor to show date & person who cleaned and refilled fluids

-never dump processor chem down the sink

-immediately outside surgery room have a cupboard (like in den) for gloves, masks, etc

-have small washer & dryer just for sx items

-put spray hose on bathtub

-use plastic storage drawers as well as shelves in inventory room

-in overstock room, have shelves with specific labels for products

-in inventory room, food room, vax fridge, and pharmacy have check lists to mark off items as they are used

I Am Tired of. . .

16 Aug

Doing the work of a good LVT or two assistants and getting paid like a kennel worker.

I’m also tired of never receiving praise or accomodation, but getting lots of criticism and responsibilities thrown my way.

Vet hospitals have a habit of eating their good workers alive.  They will take a good work ethic or any sense of dedication/loyalty and just use it up.

Even if a person overextends themself and works more then they want, harder than they can, and at a higher level that could be expected–vet hospitals want more out of you.

This treatment makes me tell myself that in the future I must remember the employees when I am in that veterinarian/ownership position.

This common problem makes me mentally exhausted, leads to burn out, and makes me bitter.

I dream of getting out of the tech-ing jobs for good, as in out of the field all-together–or at least getting paid appropriately for my troubles.

Or of being a vet where I can be the one calling the shots and asking people to do things to help me.

Coming to a Veterinary Hospital Near You!

17 Jul

Cat’s Meow jumped on the Idexx/Cornerstone bandwagon this year.  Though I think the practice is too small to really benefit from the companies primarily intent on increasing productivity and sales figures, we have done it, because it is THE thing to do in veterinary medicine.  For me, this means a serious pain in the ass while everyone gets all stressed about setting everything up, transitioning old resources to new, and learning the equipment.  I used Idexx at my very first job, and in-house labs were actually my favorite thing to do.  I used the Idexx/Cornerstone/Digital Radiology in Seattle last year and I found them to be functional, but not necessarily better than other programs.  Except D.R.–that is the most amazing way to take x-rays EVER!  Seriously, it’s like cheating.  If the animal is halfway off the processor and moving, we were still able to get a high-quality, very detailed image.  Quickly.  That we could e-mail right to the specialist, and that we could make a client CD to send home in 2 sec.

Anyway, I’m off track.  The real reason I’m writing, is because of the big change I am forced to lose my weekend to “train.”  Never-mind that when anyone gets a veterinary job they are hired because of previous experience.  Vets, who are not great business people, and are notoriously short on time (and staff) just want to hire a person that can jump right in and work.  So it’s a new computer program to you–learn as you work.  New diagnostic equipment?  Muddle through–ask co-workers.  So it makes very little sense that all of us have to come in for 8 hours a day Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday to learn the new computer system.  The one I used when I worked purely reception for 6 months in Seattle, and the one I continued to use all year in the back.  Sigh. . .

I guess that’s not my real point either.  We had the Idexx trainer in our tiny, hot upstairs room, and she was teaching us how to enter a new patient.  Everyone was happy that “attitude” was an option to fill in.  Then it got to the topic of what we call fractious/mean/naughty/aggressive cats.  Lori told everyone that she tells me the pet is a “sensitive soul”  when I go to take its vitals.  A euphemism I coined through my years of experience.  See, staff needs to know if they have to handle the pet differently, but owners do not want a negative connotation–their pet is nice at home.  So sensitive soul is perfect because it conveys the message to handle with care, but without stigma.  Everybody laughed and said that was a definate Laurel-ism.  The trainer said she liked it so much she was going to use it when she went to train hundreds of other vet hospitals around the country.

So if you hear the phrase “sensitive-soul” at your next vet visit–it’s mine!