Tag Archives: veterinary

Tough Anthem Song

20 Jul

I was naive, just wanted to please

I had that big dream, [softer, in the background] You embodied it

I didn’t have that opportun-ity,

kept get-ting dragged down

My fault, grades weren’t my only prior-ity

I was left hanging, my-life rearranging

Needed fam-iliar-ity

I came with baggage, you had it too

I realized too late your un-cer-tain-ty.

I was a buffer, no a-type-ah replace-ment

You left me absolutely nobody.

 

When I look in the mirror it

reflects my innermost spirit

spit the word “no” I won’t hear it

my motivations don’t fear it

 

Your harsh words made my skin thicker

Your head games made my mind quicker

Moved away from you– made my heart richer

Your cold shoulder showed I’m the vic-tor

You’re working that much harder, [softer, in the background] who’s the loser now?

 

You bruise me, you’ll never bust me

my mindset is such a tough one

Ignore the hate I’m so scrappy

Eat shit, I’m gonna be happy

 

all that sacrifice

and several rolls of the dice

Got me livin’ my best life

not exactly no more strife

but most of the days are mostly nice

 

 

 

Behavioral Interview Q&A Brainstorm

4 May

 

  1. Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.

I am a unique person, so most everyone has a different personality then me!  I like to learn through diversity, so it’s a strength when I can combine my talents with someone else’s different positive attributes.

 

  1. Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
  2. We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.

Spring break was the busiest week of the year for the hospital and everybody was expected to work overtime and do extra.  A coworker of mine did a lot of extra shifts during the week, but when we were scheduled on Friday, she was 2 hours late, leaving me short-handed.  I gave her the silent treatment, and she accosted me and asked me what my problem was.  I told her nicely why I didn’t appreciate her behavior, but it created a rift for the rest of our time there.  I’m not sure her reaction would have been any different, but I wish I would have just been up front in the first place.

  1. Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. What did you do?

Clients are reluctant or unhelpful many times when I tried to collect a pet’s history.  For instance, sometimes I could tell the cat had an abscess (which is usually caused by a cat fight/bite) because we saw them frequently, but the owner was oblivious and thought maybe it was a spider bite.  I asked the right questions in order to get helpful answers.  When the owner strayed from helpful info, I would redirect, by asking a specific and pointed questions to get at the answers the vet would need to proceed.

If the role you’re interviewing for works with clients, definitely be ready for one of these. Find an example of a time where you successfully represented your company or team and delivered exceptional customer service.

  1. Describe a time when it was especially important to make a good impression on a client. How did you go about doing so?

At Cat’s Meow, we had a gold star client who always brought her 5 pets in, and always did every recommendation and more.  I always try to give timely and friendly service, but I would make a concerted effort to keep things on time with her, and made a special point to remember details about her cats when she visited.

  1. Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?

At my last vet hospital, an irate owner took her dog home before we could start its dental because she was unhappy with the estimate.  After she had a chance to calm down, I called and offered to walk her through the estimate in person.  She agreed and I explained in detail what each line of the estimate was, why it was recommended, and why we couldn’t be specific about some costs.  I also patiently answered all of her questions.  When we came out of the room, she was all smiles and thank yous and not only re-scheduled her dog for the dental, but put her 2nd dog on the schedule also.  And she did follow through with both of those dentals.

Bad Yelp Review

15 Apr

Yelp and other reviewing sites are nice because they give customers a voice.  Before social media, it was a lot harder to have a voice, and often even if you went through all the effort of snail mail letters, making phone calls, or asking to speak to a manager–your opinion didn’t go anywhere or count for much.  That public component, makes any comments more relevant, and allows other people to jump on and agree also.  It just might lead to change…

But also, it’s a double-edged sword:

-It’s bad statistics, because not everyone goes on those sites, so it catches a certain demographic that isn’t a representative sample.  And like polls, most people with middle of the road opinions do not take the time to comment.  So you get the very bad and very good at either end of the spectrum.

-The reviews are not very accurate for the unsavvy.  Some things a business does are technical, and non-experts do not have the background information to appreciate why things are done that way.  In a restaurant setting, for example, someone may complain that the milk was pasteurized.  This reviewer wants only milk that is “natural” (aka they are a fucking idiot that doesn’t understand science and only hears the latest buzz words) so they left a bad review about it.  But they don’t know that milk is very regulated and it has to pass certain tests to even go to market.  So the restaurant couldn’t legally obtain or sell raw milk.  This also goes for medical.  What is good medicine isn’t necessarily popular w/the public.  Some things are done at the doctor’s office, dentist, and vet because they are science-based and ethical and legal.  And many people are going to be inconvenienced or angry about many of those things.  So giving that bad review lowers the ranking of the business, but is nonsense, you see?

-Someone called in sick and I got stuck working reception at a vet (lucky me) and this high-maintenance client came to pick her pet up from a dental.  Before the surgery day, she had gone over the estimate with the vet and techs.  And they each explained what would happen as they did with every client.  We always explained which costs were firm and which might change depending on what was going on in the mouth.  You can only get a cursory exam on the inside of an animal’s mouth when they’re awake, so there may be many surprises when they’re anesthetized and you can get a better look at things.

Anyway, it was guessed that only 2-3 teeth had to be extracted.  But on the big day, more like 7 had to go.  So the cost was more than the owner expected.  I was the lucky one that had to try to convey that to her, but she went hysterical, started making a scene in the lobby and was screaming and crying.  After like an hour of emotions running high (the owner’s) and price negotiations (on the part of the vet) the owner came out to run her card.  I said something offhand (honestly, I can’t remember what at this point, but nothing crazy) and she hated it and went hysterical again, refused to give me her card, and asked my name so she could give me in particular and the whole practice a terrible Yelp review.  I won’t be bullied so with confidence I spelled my name for her.  She looked shocked that I didn’t get upset or grovel to her, and asked to see my boss.

I got the vet, and could hear the owner fussing about how she didn’t like my attitude.  And I am just not going to let that kind of stuff bother me.  Also, none of this was my fault, I was just trying to check her out and feeling awkward with her scene like any person would, so I did not get reprimanded–as I shouldn’t have.  And P.S.  I checked a few times, and I don’t think that owner ever did write that bad review…

-Which brings me to my next point that it’s not all that fair that 1 really bad or really good review can ruin an overall rating.  People can just be angry and go off in a rating, and actually put people out of business over it.  And if it’s a highly specific situation, or a very one-sided story, or a non-technical opinion that’s not right.

What I really don’t care for is when staff becomes fixated on the online review and panders to it.  It’s lame to ASK customers to complete them.  And it skews the accuracy of reviews if the business asks for it.  Oh well.  So reviews are good for entertainment, but also be a conscientious reviewer and take other reviews with a grain of salt.

Working Interview (Part Deuce)

14 Apr

I feel very strongly about this subject.  See my first post [I think it’s titled:  The Working Interview:  A Concerning New Trend in Veterinary Medicine or something like that just type key words in the search on my blog] about it to get one (of at least 4) examples of my personal experiences with going through working interviews.  And it’s become totally commonplace in veterinary field.  And I’d like to comment how it’s unethical, and suggest different ways to forge that trust with potential employees–rather than exploiting them.

-Firstly, I’m not talking about your veterinary observation hours to beef up your application, nor am I talking about shelter volunteer hours for community service.  Finally, this is not a story about an internship for grades, school credit, or required experience where you know the expectations and are guaranteed to get something (NOT money, but letters, hours, recommendation, etc. . ., etc. . .) back.  I am referring to an additional interview where you perform duties and give your time to a for-profit business with the HOPE of receiving employment.

-Secondly, I feel like veterinary hopefuls want to feel righteous in giving their time away.  Like they have more passion if they are willing to work longer, crummier hours, for no benefits, and little/no money.  This is untrue–giving away your time and services doesn’t make you a better vet school candidate, show that you have more passion, or prove that you are a genuine, and better person–it only makes you more naive  AND helps the conditions at veterinary medicine stagnate.  By allowing these practices to continue by participating in them, remaining silent about them, or stigmatizing others for speaking out–YOU are contributing to unfair, unethical, and unsafe practices in a field that we all love.  Stop it!  Read some history about the industrial revolution and see how the workers who went on strike (against conditions appalling to today’s standard, and just well, standard practice back then) were emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically beaten down by big corporate, middle management, and peers–to see how the working interview is a repetition of by-gone times.

Job-hungry, interviewee, what to do If the WORKING INTERVIEW comes up:

-Most importantly, be aware what you are giving up if you agree to an interview.  Maybe you don’t care, in which case refer to #2 above.  Maybe you’re desperate for a job, in which case, I’m sorry.  I’ve been there too.

-Ask what to wear.  Chances are, if the potential employer requests you wear scrubs, they are expecting you to perform hands-on work, not just observe.

-Ask exactly how many hours and days will be required.  If they are non-committal or shady, I would think twice about working there.  Because, if they’re already trying to get work out of you before you’re even hired, what will it be like when you are totally dependent on that employment once hired?

-I never feel comfortable bringing up compensation, especially before you are hired, but if you have the guts (and are willing to gamble the job position) ask if you will be compensated for the time.

-DO ask what will occur if you happen to get injured during the working interview.  And don’t let them slide past the question without a firm answer.  Veterinary medicine is fraught with potential risks and harms, and you need to know how this will be handled.

-Ask what tasks you can expect to perform.  If you are uncomfortable doing any of those things as a non-employee, DO bring up why you are concerned, ie–I’m not certain I feel comfortable accepting the risk of monitoring antithetic when I am not familiar with your particular equipment or procedures.

-Don’t sign anything you are not comfortable with–and this might mean walking away from the job opportunity.  I signed stuff, and totally regret it.  It’s not right, and they know it.

-Lastly, get it in writing!  Make sure the above answers to your questions are in written form and both you and the business has a copy.  This is for everyone’s protection–and imperative.

-And the very worst part about the working interview:  Saying no to it is saying no to the job opportunity.  And that’s not ethical or right on the part of the hiring entity.

Of the employer/head vet/office manager requesting the working interview, I say:

-Would you feel comfortable defending your hiring practiced to the Department of Labor?  If not, than you need to adjust things, because you realize what you are doing now is NOT legit.  If so, proceed to my next question.

-Would you, and DO you tell your best, most particular client–this person does not work here, b/c we can’t trust the resume alone, and is going to practice technical skills on your pet?  If not–that’s not OK.  If you would–first, I give you props for having big kahonies, and 2nd continue to my third question.

-What are you going to do if this working interviewee gets injured while performing the duties of this “interview?”  This is a big question, and huge liability.

-And finally, what are you going to do if this working interviewee hurts/damages/kills a patient?

Ways for Employers to Circumvent the Working Interview:

-Look at your trusty volunteers or observers and hire the worthy.  I know the flakes are more common than not, and you should be hiring those that prove they are dependable over time.  You already know and trust them, AND they’re giving their time on their own accord.  Win-win.

-For added emphasis, I make this it’s own point.  Check out all references.  Actually talk to the people that worked closely with the candidate and listen carefully for subtitles/discrepancies.

-Make a test.  Time them filing a series of files (include business names starting with “the” and difficult ones like O’Hara, deWitt, etc…).  Have them write an essay.  Have them fill and label a prescription.  Have some math on there.  A whole thing, not just basic typing, but things they will actually need to know at your specific practice.

-Hire the good interview candidate based on resume, interview, and CHECKED references.  But do it on a fully-disclosed and discussed, paid, probationary period.  Have that person work, with highly-supervised guidance, and after a certain pre-determined, pre-discussed (PAID) time-period do a full evaluation/review where both parties talk about the good, the bad, and whether to continue the working relationship.  Honestly, this is good policy anyway.  I always had questions at jobs that I hadn’t anticipated at the interview, but there never seemed enough time to address them once I was already working.

-Hire the person, and if they don’t fit, do a shitty job, or mess up hugely–terminate their employment.  Yeah, it’s more trouble, but such is owning a business.

I would like to see the end of exploitation of all workers.  Even in the health care and service industries.  I don’t think that money is a good excuse to keep these kinds of things going–just ask Jeff Bezios or the Waltons/Lowrys how popular it is for them to keep it up.  Let’s stop making excuses and start finding solutions to change these things for the better.

LVT vs. Assistant

9 Apr

I wrote this at least 5 years ago, so things may have changed since my experiences (I doubt it) so remember that as you read.  I still stand by my assessment of LVTs.

In the modern schools, veterinarians are being taught to only do tasks that require their license.  Staff should do EVERY thing else, in order to be most efficient and practice at the top of the profession.  This philosophy is fine in theory.  In practice (they call it that for good reason) most vet hospitals do not PAY well enough to entice skilled employees to work for them.  With skills and licensing comes demand for better pay–and most vet hospitals are small, privately-owned operations that just can’t make that scenario work.  So what you get is what you pay for a lot of the time.  And that can be very scary if your vet sticks with the same mentality they were instructed to have in school.  Most of the vets I worked for did way, way, way more then just what was required by their license.  Because it’s ultimately their business, and because they cared about the animals and their clients.  They wanted things done right (and sometimes quickly).  When I worked for vets that didn’t do things that their license wasn’t specifically required to do, I thought they didn’t really give an eff.  And I looked down on them.  And I’m sure their clients wouldn’t have loved what they saw many of the times.

Back in the late 90s when I started volunteering in vet hospitals, most of the help were just on-the-job trained.  That’s who vets could find, and that’s who most vets could afford to pay.  As things have slowly tried to go the same way as the human side (and for-profit technical schools started popping up), there were more and more LVTs on the scene.

-Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT).  It’s veterinary medicine’s effort to standardize care. Which in theory is a good thing. In practice, I’m not sure how great those 2 year tech programs ARE. For example, teaching how to calculate anesthetic doses seems to be a primary portion of programs, but is certainly NOT a primary duty for the majority of teching jobs. If the vet trusts the tech to do it at all (many don’t) it’s like 5 minutes out of an entire day.  There is a big discrepancy between what the technical programs are teaching and what veterinary employers want in a tech (and are able to pay that tech).

I think mostly vets want someone who:

1)  they don’t have to train (there’s no time, they’re probably already short-staffed by the time they get to the hiring process)

2)  someone will will show up.  Availability during peak times (weekends, +/- holidays, +/- nights, and mostly full time (or more) hours.  Willingness to come early, miss breaks, skip lunch, and stay late is a bonus, and sometimes necessity.

3).  Someone self-motivated that they can trust and don’t have to baby-sit.

And the daily skills commonly required on the job are things like:  Restraint times a billion, autoclaving packs, vitals, blood draws, ie simple, repetitive tasks that have to be done with competence, but don’t require any sort of genius.  And CLEANING *pet-peeve alert*.  Always the cleaning.  And everybody in the building needs to help with cleaning–don’t you dare tell me any position in a vet hospital is above cleaning.  It’s one of the most necessary and frequent parts of any of the jobs.

-I think the technical schools have their ideals in the right place, but they also need a substantial program.  If people are PAYING to attend, they have to teach something that requires skill and support it with theory.  And so to make a more legit course-load and take up a decent 2 years, they teach unnecessary things.  Things that aren’t all that useful in the real world.  Unfortunately, the schools also (either directly or indirectly, I’m not sure) teach that LVTs are PROFESSIONALS.  And as such they are 1) superior to “unskilled” assistants 2) anything that doesn’t require their license is beneath them.  Both very, very untrue sentiments.  And detrimental.

Vet hospitals need to rely on EVERYone.  And at the same time everyone is just a body and easily replaceable.  Also, everyone from the vet to the techs to the receptionists need to be able to step up (or down) to do what is needed at that moment.  That means–(again) everyone cleans.  My personal joke:  What is the difference between an LVT and an assistant?  An assistant is willing to clean.  And that comes from direct and varied experiences in multiple types of vet setting and in multiple states.

-Another problem with distinguishing licensed and assistant techs (and the resultant pay-discrepancy) is:  1)  You can’t account for on-the-job experience, nor can you teach all on-the-job skills in a 2 year span.  2)  You can’t TEACH motivation or work ethic.  I would say I was easily the hardest working employee at (at least) half of my jobs–and the ones where I wasn’t the hardest working person, it certainly wasn’t tied with any LVT.  This isn’t a brag, it’s the truth.

Do I think assistants are as good as LVTs?  Mostly.  Sure, missing a formal education taught by accredited instructors may leave gaps in knowledge.  Assistants may not know the whys behind a task.  But I would argue, the LVT often has a shaky idea of what goes on in real vet hospitals.  Often, they have an idealized view of what should happen, verses what actually happens because of realities, and also because of limitations to client money and willingness.  I think vets themselves probably go through this as well, studying what should happen then seeing what really happens.  And I do think assistants come out on top as better employees than LVTs overall because they are trained on the job so you don’t have to un-train any bad habits/expectations, they are more willing to commit longer hours and forgo breaks and come in early, etc… which is a very desirable trait to vets.  And assistants are more willing to jump in wherever necessary (phones, lugging dog food, cleaning) because they don’t have allusions that their license somehow makes certain tasks beneath them.

But it’s beginning to be a new time in the field and the LVTs have saturated the market (and set a precedent for accepting lower wages) so it’s beginning to be easier and easier for vets to require this license for hire.  I would just say–don’t forget the assistants.

My Job Description in 2018 was Much the Same as 1995

6 Apr

I wrote the majority of this post in 2014, after getting out of my assisting job (for what I thought would be) the final time.  The point:  It’s a dead-end job.  Sure people love it and do it because it’s their calling and for the fun of it.  But also, a dead-end job (I think) leads to inevitable burn out and dissatisfaction.  I stand by it, and had some fun, learned some skills, met some good people and animals both.  But in general, I’m relieved to be out of it.  All of that very hard work, for little pay, and low appreciation.

I have been thinking about my 19 year (meaning volunteer + employment) stretch in veterinary medicine. I’m sentimental and relieved, happy and sad to be leaving the field. One of the problems in the animal industry is that without more education there’s not much upward mobility.

I started volunteering for Dr. Hulme the summer of 1995, when I was 11. I worked under the supervision of Claire, who gave me my first scrub top, a purple reversible number that I still have. I cleaned kennels, filed charts and x-rays, cleaned tables after they worked on animals, restocked drawers and filled supplies, counted pills, restrained animals, set out and cleaned up supplies, groomed and did many nail trims, wrapped and autoclaved surgery packs, organized drawers, walked dogs, helped make confirmation calls, and cleaned the building. This was also my first introduction to veterinarian behavior. I was frightened of the volatile doctor, and he kicked a hole in the surgery room wall out of anger.  Still, I loved the job and was determined to be a vet one day.

By 2000, Dr. Hulme sold his practice to a different vet and my responsibilities increased to include developing x-rays, painting, changing the x-ray dip tank out monthly, deep-cleaning inside and outside the premises, lab work on IDEXX equipment, organizing the whole place, filling prescriptions, cleaning instruments, giving SQ fluids, and scouring the surgery room. At the time, the vet was a new former resident in town, 5 years out of school, and full of potential. It was like a breath of fresh air.  I worked closely with Kim, though everybody was friendly, informative, and took an interest in my life inside and outside of work.  I wanted to spend all my free time at the hospital, and I became a fixture there.

After a year of volunteer work, I was officially paid to do much the same work in June 2000. When I became legit-employed my duties included taking vitals prior to exams and monitoring anesthetic.  I was occasionally allowed to try my hand at drawing blood, but was only 17 at the time so the vet worried about liability and her clients (she needant have, b/c that’s commonplace throughout the field, but whatever).  I also got to do fun chores like traveling to the next town for Starbucks, picking up lunch, washing personal vehicles, and going outside to clean/organize the hospital’s storage unit.  I loved my job, and the people I worked with!

When I found a veterinary job in Missouri in 2004, there were more dogs to walk.  It was a larger enterprise, more clients, pets, coworkers, and vets.  More to do on a daily basis.  Boarding was a central aspect to my job.  I walked, cleaned kennels, bathed dogs, carried out a board-full of treatments, and wrote up files for most of the hours in the days, with heartworm batch tests in between (in addition to the aforementioned duties of my home-town), covered reception overload by answering phones (bane of my assisting existence from this time forward), checking appointments in and out, and helping customers, and I very rarely collected blood.  The vets did their own vitals, prepped for their own procedures, and even cleaned up after themselves!  Noah’s Ark became my home, and the Chapmans who owned it, my family.  I not only spent most my time there, including every other weekend, and all holidays, but they once paid to have my car fixed, and the frequently bought staff lunch and treats.  This is also the only time I was paid what I am worth (given the midwest’s low cost of living).  I made more then employees at the other vet hospitals in town (as heard from pre-vet school-mates, and Lori and her friends who worked at a vet hospital).  and I also got scrubs 2-3 times yearly and large bonuses at least twice a year.  I could tolerate (but still hated!) the shenanigans of my coworkers, the politics within, and the massive boarding load for those incentives and that camaraderie.  I may have never left if I wasn’t accepted to vet school at Saint George.

In 2007, I had a brief stint back in my hometown (Cabin-Mansion) and worked solely reception for the first time.  I prepped charts, faxed and did office work, worked with the schedule, and counted money at the end of the night.  The vet was going through her mid-life crises, Kim through alcoholism, and their marriage was all but disintegrated so they were not pleasant to work with anymore.  The staff had changed and grown too, and the techs were gossipy, but my fellow receptionist was sweet and big-hearted.  Work itself was manageable (and might have even been enjoyable), but our personal lives became intertwined and sloppy, making the experience more bad than good.  I wanted out of there, out of their lives, and away from that situation forever.  What a disappointment.  I thought after 7 years, you would know people, but it’s either not the case, or I had overlooked some major personality flaws the first time around.

I took a job at an emergency hospital in 2009–and felt thoroughly out of my league.  With little to no supervision or guidance, I had to collect blood, place IV catheters (for the first time in 9 years of veterinary work), run all kids of lab work including blood-gases and manual CBCs (which I had not done prior to that point), and carry out diagnostics such as hyperbaric chamber and blood pressures that I had never done before.  With zero training.  And on a time-table.  My co-workers collected urine by cystocentesis and intubated, but I was scared and uncertain so I never jumped in on those–even though I easily could have.  I didn’t feel like it was ethical for me to practice skills I had never formally been taught or shown.  I was afraid I would do more harm than good, so I usually jumped into the restrain role.  I also had to do a daily inventory of supplies and prep items so they were ready to grab quickly.  My co-workers were friendly but dysfunctional and the turn-over was rapid.  I saw little of the vets, but when I did see them they were gruff and I never got to know them.  I truly was just a body there, and I was constantly worried about liability and quality of care the entire time I worked there.  It was not a good situation.

My vet school loan fell through at the literal last minute (a week is last minute when you’re going to a foreign country) so I was not going to vet school.  But I had quit, and moved, and packed, and prepared for vet school so I had to regroup on short notice.  Put my finger on a map and just jump.  I was watching Fraiser a lot, so I decided to give the Pacific Northwest a try.  In Seattle, I worked as a receptionist for the second time.  Then, transitioned back to assistant once the real receptionist was recovered from surgery.  I think all the tech/assistant duties were the same, except I always got stuck with changing processor chem before we got digital x-ray.  I also got to do dentals by myself for the first time.  The real difference was more tech support since we were in a big city, clients who expected a lot more (and were a lot more fussy), and technology was better (digital x-ray, brand new IDEXX equipment) and the mentality was more serious and pretentious.  I heard “gold standard” more then ever before.  The vets were superficially friendly, but I hardly had a rapport with them.  My coworkers were chilly right from my first introduction during my working interview, and never warmed up (who knows why-Seattle freeze?).  I never felt part of the team, and never felt camaraderie from the rest of the staff, and soon felt overworked, underappreciated, fatigued, and burnt out.  I thought it was just big city stuff, and wanted to move somewhere a little smaller and more down-to-Earth.

In 2010, I was relieved to find Cat’s Meow.  It was perfect!  Cute name, remodeled building, small staff, less clientele.  It was all the same tasks, except no more blood draws or placing catheters, because of my inconsistency in both, and my superior restraint skills.  I had a stint managing inventory.  I feel like by this time I was super-proficient at radiology (because that’s one thing vets can’t really put their own stamp on, it’s consistent everywhere).  I also restrained for the I131 buddies, which is like all other restraint, but your docimeter gets read more frequently.  I consistently roomed patients by taking histories and collecting vitals. And I think I was the best at restraint, and best at “reading the room” a.k.a. ascertaining a client’s and pet’s demeanor quickly, and adjusting my routine to accommodate that.  In other words, my soft skills had come to fruition, which are really just me trying to do my job-job more efficiently by preventing problems before they occurred.  Except at that job, I also never felt part of the team.  When I first got there everyone was substantially older, so I figured that was it.  But as an equal number of younger people started getting hired and seemed more a part of the group then me, I realized I just wasn’t part of their club.  That made me resent my job and hate the constant bitchy-drama. I wanted out of a life-or-death job, that was so demanding, yet so underpaid.  I was going to try to get an adult job.

But it’s not easy getting a job when your resume is full of only one type of work, but that’s not the type of work you want…  So I segued into the human side and did accessioning (entry level laboratory science stuff).  But it can only start after all the doctor’s offices and hospitals and everyone closes for the day, and after the couriers get the samples to the lab.  So my shift was evening to midnight, or one, or once even three AM!  And I am a morning person.  After my ‘retirement’ I had to get out of my specimen processing (on the human side) job.  I could not handle swing shift.  My body would pop up in the early morning hours no matter how late I got home from work.  And I could never nap.  So I just kept getting more and more sleep-deprived.  I think I aged a decade in those 2 years!  And my coworkers were crap.  Lazy and bitchy, so I had to go back to veterinary hospitals just to get out.  Back to square zero.  Again.

I worked at the most high-end hospital in a ritzy suburb of Salt Lake City.  Owned my daddy’s little princess who had about a (literal) 2 million dollar hospital, but was already getting burned out by the profession only a couple years out of vet school.  She was not open on weekends and didn’t board or hospitalize.  So for the first time ever, I didn’t work weekends or holidays either.  She wanted to play after work, so she left at 4 and we were nearly always finished with tech appointments, treatments, and cleaning by 5 PM.  Unheard of.  It felt weird, but also still demanding too much, still stressful.  The vet didn’t really want to do all that much so her ‘head tech’ pretty much carried the place.  On top of all the afore-mentioned duties, I got more practice with digital radiology and dentals (including extractions) and dental x-rays.  I practiced my blood draws, but was never even offered to place an IV there.  And I watched some emergency cases (suffer) while the vet went out of town.  Which I think is deplorable, and not good for the pet, owner, or an ethical position to put me in.  My major duty was selling things.  Which I didn’t see as problematic, because animals should be getting heartworm prevention, etc…  But there was a definite emphasis on sales at that job.  Which was different.

The point is, my job duties didn’t change very much after all the time.  And you have got to not just get along with every vet, but your coworkers to really enjoy going to work day after day.  At this kind of job you have to think of them or friends and family or the long hours, low pay, nonexistent upward mobility, physical work, angry clients, etc, etc…  just isn’t worth it.  My favorite jobs were the ones where the people made it awesome.  But assisting just could never satisfy me long term, because I need goals and something to aspire to throughout my career.  So that’s that.

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“I cain’t quit you.” [Part 5]

26 Mar

Written 6 years ago, but I read it today and thought, ‘go me!’  It’s funny how things may come to fruition easily when you don’t want it or don’t care.  I was not intentionally playing hard to get or anything like that, I really wasn’t invested.  But it seemed to help.  Also, having a strong background in negotiation skills from my parents making me haggle for spending money or on chores, etc… is really a priceless, valuable skill set to have.

During the dental yesterday, my boss teased me (in a half-serious) way about how she wished I would re-consider and keep cleaning.  It’s a difficult position to fill because it requires trust to let someone come in during off hours.  I told her I had made up my mind and wouldn’t be pressured!  Also jokingly.  And she talked about how it seems like an easy job, but she is having trouble finding someone to work few hours, on off-times, and trusting said person would show up, work, and do a quality job.  Which I told her were all traits I was excellent at, but I didn’t want to have any crutch with this new move of mine.  I had explained how I didn’t test into my LVT (even though it would garner me a job anywhere, be an instant, raise, and “legitamize” me in any setting.  If I had my LVT and failed at any new career endeavor, or couldn’t get a job–it would make sense to use that and work in vet hospitals.  And that’s not what I want for myself.  If I can’t be a vet–I don’t wanna ever be satisfied with a thankless, dead-end, menial job.

And that’s why I couldn’t work for my current job–in any capacity.  It would be just too easy to get scared, and back-slide right back into my comfort zone where I have most experience and where I have an “in.”  Because I know if I wanted it bad enough my work would be happy to have me back.  They know the quality of work I deliver, and vets never want to trust anyone new–and they can always use the help.  So even though I could make the TIME work, I didn’t want to keep even one finger in my past.

But my boss said don’t give a negative answer hastily–just think about it.  And just that little bit of (half-joking) pressure got in my mind.  I thought it would be some income for me.  And I could easily do it.  There would be a flexible schedule and I wouldn’t SEE anyone so nothing could irritate me.

But I really didn’t think about it that much because I didn’t think my boss would press the issue.  And before work I told Cool that IF my boss brought it up, I would just ask how much it was worth to her.  Because I didn’t really think it would come up, and if it did I was almost certain my boss wouldn’t agree on a sum I’d be happy with.

But at work, my boss made a quip about it, then quickly said she was kidding–so as not to be terribly obnoxious.  But I said I had taken her seriously and thought about it.  And she practically scampered across the room asking if I would really be willing to do it.  But I wanted to know the expectations.  And she started saying every day (which is MORE then I currently do). . .  to which I was like–no, no never-mind that won’t work.  But I could see she was desperate because she asked what I was thinking.  And I told her 2, 3 times a week max, on a flexible schedule.  At this point I showed her my checklists that I date as I accomplish things.  I pointed out the frequency in which I currently do things is not as often as she thought (proving vets really don’t know who does what or when just as long as it doesn’t directly affect them).  She said she’d have to think about it–and I figured she wouldn’t go for it and oh well–no loss to me.  But 2 minutes later she came up to me and said that would work.

But I persisted that I needed to know expectations–just to make sure the cleaning I’m doing now is what they want.  Because my work isn’t the greatest at communication, and I didn’t want anyone disgruntled in the future.  So all these talks were loud and in front of everyone.  Which I am normally not a fan of–but I wasn’t all that invested in this.   I had already planned to quit all-together and if I could help without too much headache on my part, great, but if not, great.  But once the ball got rolling, and it looked like I WAS going to keep cleaning, I got a little worried I had not mentioned the financials.  That was the thing that this decision would be about.  Because it did go against what I had decided, was because I bent to pressure, and would hold me back from my future field just a little).  So I wanted to feel like I wasn’t totally being a push-over.  I needed to get MORE out of the deal–and I apparently had leverage.  That is not a very familiar place for me to be.

I tried to deviate from my normal ultra-serious talk and keep it light.  I told my boss we would have time after the dental to talk 1:1.  And she was like, more?  And I was like of course.  So we get up there, and I told her I broke the cardinal rule and told her what she wanted to hear FIRST so she stopped listening.

I said any monkey off the street can clean–you are not paying me to clean.  You are paying for the trust, my dedication, my work ethic, and the fact I already know her expectations.  But of course I was getting nervous–despite having nothing to lose and coming from a position of leverage.  And she was like, calm down you’re just talking to me. Why are you getting worked up?  And I was like, I don’t know, I’m just putting myself out there I guess.  You make me nervous.  And she said, I’m that way too–I wonder why it’s so hard to ask for what you think you’re worth?  And I was like yeah it’s a funny thing because I KNOW what I’m worth, but the asking is awkward.  So I still felt like I had to put out the disclaimers, and included that she wouldn’t be paying a new person what she had paid me so it would save money.  I also said I would be working less hours, but still had to account for the gas, the time, and going back on my plan.  She asked how much I made now.  $12.00.  I think it’s $12.25 she says.  No, $12–and believe me, I know–b/c it’s been more then a year (even after my stellar evaluation) since I got a raise.  Then she put the ball in my court and asked how much I wanted.

Fail!  I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, because I honestly didn’t think the negotiations would get this far.  Always have a number in mind ahead of time!  But I didn’t. . .  And I was nervous, and too flustered to do any math in my head.  So I said I needed a calculator.  Maybe I could clear my head and walk away from the table for a second to gather my thoughts.  She handed me her phone.  With shaking hands (remember I’m nervous and completely unprepared) I plugged in my anticipated monthly fuel cost and my highest utility bill.  Then divided that into an hourly amount for the cleaning hours.  I know–totally random!  It came to $12.66.  But even in my nervous state, I know you aim high in negotiations so you have somewhere to go.  But for whatever reason $13 seemed scary.  I didn’t want to see some sort of horrible expression on my boss’ face or hear that my work wasn’t worth THAT much.  So I went for a nice round quarter-amount:  $12.75, with the expectation we’d go down a little.

Without batting an eye my boss said they could make that work.  And immediately I was regretful I didn’t go higher.  Both people should feel just a little uncomfortable if you arrive at a good number, and my boss had answered all too readily–apparently I had underestimated how much the cleaning position meant to her.  Damn–it was a 6.3% raise!

But I will just consider the extra 25 cents I should have asked for as the benefit of a flexible schedule.  They did try several times to get me to commit to certain days.  But I resisted for study/school/future commitments/vacation purposes.  So I will consider that my “benefits-package.”  Which I guess for janitorial is pretty good, and better then I would have done had I readily agreed to keep on cleaning.  And better then no income at all.  So everyone IS a winner?!  Maybe.

In summary:  Working at veterinary hospitals falls under the heading “I can’t quit you.”  Also, everybody needs to have some negotiation skills at the ready, because you could need to use them at any time.

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Fall-Back LVT [Part 4]

26 Mar

This post was written 6 years ago now, and I still agree with the sentiment.  I had to close the book on veterinary work entirely in order to move forward.  And it would have been too easy to fall back on that job had I tested into my (licensed veterinary technician) LVT.  Which I may have done because it took me pretty much 5 of the last 6 years to get into a new field.  There were entry-level jobs, bad hours, nonsense social situations that I had to go through to start over.  But finally, finally I got through it and into something else that works for me.

It wouldn’t be a big deal time-wise to keep Saturday and do the cleaning. And I almost agreed to this right when I was resigning.

BUT–part of the reason I had to resign in the first place was to stop living by fear and just pull the trigger. You can’t reach for new goals in life, if you’re still grasping onto the past. I need to fully let go of the veterinary part of my life. It’s sad because it has been a huge part of my whole being. For 14 paid years, and longer then that it’s all I’ve known. But I’ll always be that person (a little bit) and I can hold onto the memories without holding on to the job.

I relate my LVT story to my boss: Washington lets people with such & such experience test-in to their LVT credential. You have to jump through a few hoops, but it’s easier then paying for 2 years of technical school. And I would have to study for their standardized test, but I know if I tried for it, I would be successful. And if I got those letters behind my name it would be beneficial. I could get any job because of the LVT + my experience. I would command a higher paycheck automatically. I would be seen as “legit” to anyone.

I ultimately decided not to do it. Not for lack of time or fear of failure. I did not want to be able to fall back on tech work. I didn’t want to even have the option of turning back on this new career path and settling for my current job. I didn’t want to feel fear or experience failure and have the ability to regress back to what I know best–veterinary assistant/tech work. I want to grow and move forward, and the LVT could potentially stall me and hold me back.

And so it goes with my current job. Even though I could get it done. And it would alleviate some financial stress–it would be too easy to fall back into veterinary assisting. If I got scared or failed in my new field, I could so easily crawl back to Cats Meow and beg my job back. And I don’t want that to even be an option. Despite my great fear of the unknown, financial instability, and failure–I want to make a clean break from veterinary medicine and move on.

I will be scared. Scared about money and scared about being able to break into a new arena where I have no experience. But that fear will be what compels me to whole-heartedly, without reservation sprint to my goal of being an audiologist.

Goodbye veterinary medicine (hopefully forever). It’s been good, it’s been stressful. It’s been rewarding and thankless. I’ve had fun and I’ve also been burned out. But it had comprised the center of my life, and I’m closing the book so I can start reading a new one. Hello, audiology–I’m ready to embrace you with every fiber of my being!

Loyalty and Fear [part 2-ish]

6 Mar

Also a post from years ago that I never posted.  I reaffirms I didn’t get out of the field lightly.  I agonized.  But I ultimately did it because I was giving my everything and people still treated me–just politely.  They acknowledged how much they needed me and how much I was doing, but I still wasn’t part of things.  It just wasn’t worth it.

I didn’t know what to do–I felt uneasy.  Worried.  The longer I have the 4.0 GPA, the more I fear losing it.  At this point, I would do just about anything to maintain it–those grades weren’t easy to get.

So I called my parents.  My mom would be at school until 6:45PM, so I talked to Dad.  I told him of my latest work saga, how I was stressed and worried, and confused.  And he reminded me of where I got my work ethic and sense of commitment from–he told me to buck up.  Not in a mean way, just in a this sucks, but you can do it, and that’s what needs to be done.  I told me to do the extra work, study, and sleep less.  Bathe less if I had to.  He talked of 4 on-4 off shifts in the Navy and how rigerous it was and how painful the lack of sleep had been.  He didn’t like it, but he put his head down and got it down.  He reminded me of working the potato farm for 2 cents an hour–back-breaking, long work, with prick boss and coworkers giving him constant $hit.  My dad had done thankless, physical work with no thanks and little pay his whole life–I could make it for half a semester.

And I thought-Yes!  THAT’S who I am as a person.  I’m hard-working and dedicated.  When my team needs me to step up, I will do it for the good of everyone.  And I decided I would just have to buckle down, work required 35% more than I already am, AND maintain my grades.  I had to do it, so I might as well get on board.

And later, I read my mom my glowing work evaluation from 12 days before–all the lovely things written about my productivity, motivation, knowledge, judgement, excellent animal restraint, that my boss prefers the days I work, the A-team comment.  Then, I read the texts between my boss and me from 3 days before (10 days after the eval).  It proved they acknowledge how hard I work, and how I benefit the business, and the way they still treat me.

But then, I still couldn’t sleep.  And I thought–why am I still unsettled about work?  I made my decision.  I’m going to pull this out–what’s left to toss and turn over?  And it kept nagging at me.  So I prayed.  I prayed during my sleepless night for a sense of direction.  Please help me make the right decision so I can feel better and so I can sleep again.  And I tossed and tossed some more.  No sleep–and no answers were had.

Then, a literal 2 minutes before my morning alarm was to go off, and I still had not slept.  I dosed off very briefly and had a dream (I rarely remember dreaming) when I did.  In the dream, I was working at the boarding facility that I had interviewed at this last August, when all the Friday-schedule drama was going on at work.  In the dream, the owners were talking and laughing with me, and my co-workers were friendly and seemed to genuinely like me.  Our employers were taking everyone out for fast food, because we had done such a good job at work.  And I felt like somebody in the dream.  They were treating me like a person!

Then my alarm went off.  I knew the answer, and also know the dream was a result of my prayers.  I had confidence.  Something I had never felt about this decision before.  I had to resign.  And it wasn’t in a mean way or on a whim.  It wasn’t even based on this current situation.  Mostly, because I also woke up with this overwhelming sense that I had been fighting the right decision this whole time.  I had known for a long while that I needed to quit–but I had stayed out of loyalty and because of fear.  But this morning, it all fell into place and I felt at peace with it.

And of course I’ll be scared.  Losing stability and income.  Facing the unknown.  Change.  Complete loss of that part of myself–veterinary employee.  That’s 14.5 years of my life and all I know.  It’s scary.  But not worth staying.  Even if I can’t find a job, and even if I’m worried and scared about money–I’ll know I made the right choice for me.  I won’t regret it.

Like I will tell my boss–I didn’t make this decision lightly, and it wasn’t based on any one factor.  Also, I’m sorry that the right decision for me may negatively affect others–that’s not my intention.  That’s what I will say if when people ask me why, or confront me.  And when they treat me badly in those last 2 weeks:  1)  I won’t like it.  2)  it won’t be so different from the way they always treated me.  I never felt a part of their group.  At first I figured it was because of the age-difference, but now that newer, younger hires are included and treated nicely–I know it’s just me.  Maybe it’s because I’m not all i-phone-centric.  Who knows.  3) if they get nasty and say salty things, I will just tell them if that what they think of me after almost 4 years–it just re-affirms that I’m making the right decision.  Because if they don’t know my work ethic, sense of duty, or moral compass by now–they are never going to.

Work Woes. Again and still. [Part 1]

6 Mar

This is from years ago, but reading it reminds me of the mentality of high stress, low pay, just be part of the team and suck it up–which I always  had (to my own detriment).  This was the beginning of me wondering if it was worth it.  I was looking at the costs and benefits, and the costs were quickly exceeding any benefits.

It’s not wise to post this on here–because you just never know who might read it.  But I don’t know where else to turn to think things through.  I am unable to concentrate on my studies (which I desperately need to do) and I need to talk myself though this stress.

Juuuuust when I think everything at work is OK, and maybe even good–they turn it upside down.  Last week, I had my evaluation where I was called “A-team,” productive, good knowledge, and told how valuable my morning clean/prep schedule was.  Today, we were pulled into an impromptu meeting declaring everyone would have to turn in times they can’t work, because our full-time gal would be gone for 6-8 weeks and we all had to pull extra.  My boss has a mind to just hand us all a revised schedule, without our input.  Also the specific dates aren’t available, the specific number of hours extra weren’t specified other then “lots and lots,” and no hint of discussion/collaboration was given.

So Fridays are back in-play.  And Thursdays too.  Forget about my part-time hours, because I have the most “extra” to give–they don’t give a fu(k about my class/study time.  No one cares that I’m only getting part-time benefits, and as such I want and need part-time hours.  Even for “just 6-8 weeks.”  We all know what that turns into (spoiler:  longer, maybe forever).  I have to study outside of class and have time to do the required assignments to do WELL in the classes.  With just 4 courses left, I’m not giving up my 4.0 GPA.  Not for work, not for anybody.  And when I ask for specifics, and say I’m stressed out–the mentality is the same ‘ol same ‘ol:  just deal with it; we’re all in the same boat and all stressed; this is veterinary medicine so this sort of thing is expected.

But maybe it’s too much for me.  I really CANNOT deal with 6-8 full Fridays, I probably can’t even deal with one  full Friday!  And I certainly can’t do 12 Thursday/Friday combos.  But at work, my psychological state comes last–it’s after the bookkeeper’s, after the LVT, and certainly after the appointment-load.  I come last.  I am willing to compromise, but with my school schedule I already feel stretched as tightly as I can manage–I don’t think I have MORE to give work.

So I’m thinking I might finally just do it.  Maybe the finger has been giving me so much constant, continuous strife at a place where I work HARD and am dedicated, honest, productive, diligent, and loyal–because I’m meant to leave.  Why else would work constantly treat me like a punching-bag?  How much more can they take out of me?  I really feel like I have nothing more to give.

Even though there are very few job prospects HERE.  Especially with a school-schedule that has to be worked around, and one that changes by the semester at that.  Even though I have no marketable skills.  Even though the only skills I do have would be more of the same–and maybe worse.  I just can’t deal.  I’m trying to be a better person, but this job keeps dragging me down.  I just think I’m settled into a compromise both work and I can live with–and they change the rules on me.  Then act like I’m a $hit-head because I don’t like it and it makes me worry.  I don’t think I can keep on like this anymore.  I deserve better, and I want more stability then that.

And I’m finally in a financial position where maybe I could afford to quit.  I could use my surplus school loan money (that I’ve been saving for Colorado-moving purposes) to live on until I can find another job.  And until I find another job, I can tutor at school, and maybe even kids.  And there was a possibility my independent study could become a paid position.  So I could afford to live AND work on my resume’ in the field I’m trying to get into.

But that might make me worry too.  Because it would be difficult trying to find a job AND study appropriately.  And no one likes to worry that their money is dwindling.  And what if I couldn’t ever find a job?  What would I do?  And if I used all my loan money to live on HERE how will we ever afford to move away?  Would this just make me more crazy than just sticking out the possible 12 full days, committing to a work-load that might jeopardize my grades, and the stress of whatever the NEXT work-demand will be?

I just don’t know what to do.  And I have to decide fast, because my two weeks notice would already be close to the 6-8 week span of time, and the point is to try to AVOID that scene.  So I really have to submit a resignation no later then Monday if it’s going to benefit me.