National Veterinary Technician Week
In honor of National Veterinary Technician Week, October 16-22, this month’s blog is all about our Veterinary Team. As a client, it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of a veterinary staff, because let’s face it: no one wants to go to the vet. There are so many things that happen behind the scenes, it’s easy to notice the things that are going wrong, and a bit harder to see what’s going right. From the Receptionists, to the Techs, to the Doctors, everyone plays a vital role in making sure that each interaction runs smoothly.
Receptionists do more than just answer the phones. They have to assess every situation differently. Is it an emergency? Can the question be answered without having the pet and client come in? Does the answer constitute as “medical advice”? What a lot of clients don’t realize is that it is both illegal and unethical to give medical advice over the phone. A doctor needs to exam every patient and give specific advice per each case. Receptionists are also not trained the same way techs and doctors are. What may seem like a simple question might not have a simple answer. Receptionists can give broad answers based on either their experience at the hospital or just general knowledge. The job of the Receptionists is to figure out where a question needs to be directed, or to get a patient/client to come in. It’s also very hard to give out estimates over the phone, because what may start out as a simple, surface issue, may very well lead to the discovery of a more deep-rooted issue or cause. When calling an animal hospital, it’s important to be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Is it an emergency?
- How long has the issue been going on?
- Are you able to come in immediately or in the near future?
- Are you prepared to fund an office exam, further testing, etc.? If not, have you applied for CareCredit?
As a rule of thumb: if you’re not sure about what’s going on, bring your pet in. As a Receptionist, it’s easy to take the blame if a situation doesn’t go as planned, but trust me…our Receptionists work very hard to make sure everyone comes in and leaves as happy as possible.
Our Technicians are trained to work in the mindset of helping your pet. When they see a problem, they automatically think about all the ways to fix it. Because of this, it’s important to let your Technician know if you are on a budget or a time crunch. If a problem can’t be fixed within your budget, the Technician will try and find the next best thing. What’s easily forgotten, is that your pet may not be the only pet that the Technician is working with. There are often a dozen other pets in the back that require constant attention and monitoring; the Technician knows how important it is to take their time and do it right the first time, so if you have to wait a little bit, it’s because they’re doing their job right.
Technicians work very long shifts. Think of them as nurses at a hospital, except instead of helping humans, they help pets. Animals can’t talk, so sometimes it’s very hard to find the cause of each problem. At times this can be frustrating, so letting your Technician know that they’re doing a good job can be the difference in a long day and a great day.
Did you know that when your pet is sick and we can’t figure out why, or there’s nothing we can do about it, we get upset too! You would be surprised how many times the staff needs to take a minute in the back to appear calm and collected for the patients/clients. The reason we do this job is because we love animals! That’s the number one thing to remember. We don’t look at a case by just the cost; we look at it as a success or failure. How can we save this pet? How can we keep the client happy? There are so many factors that go into making everyone happy.
A veterinarian is very similar to a pediatrician. Our furry friends cannot speak to us like humans can, and we depend on pet owners to obtain a proper history of their pets. All doctors at our facilities have the communication and people skills needed to care for pets in every way possible. What is not obtained through pet history can be detected through diagnostic testing such as urinalysis, blood work, fecal exams, x-rays, ultrasounsd and many other diagnostic tests.
It’s easy to want to run to the doctor with every question or concern. The reason there are tiers of communication (Receptionist, Technician, Doctor), is because the doctor has to worry about every case that enters the door. They often create the treatment plan, delegate tasks to the team, and are the final set of eyes in releasing a patient. When you call the hospital wishing to speak to the doctor, most times they will try to drop what they’re doing to answer your question; however, that’s not always possible. There are many things that doctors do that the Technicians can’t. You will never see a doctor sitting down. Each day brings a new set of problems that the doctor must solve, and we’re very lucky to have so many doctors that care so much about their patients and clients.
Next time you visit an animal hospital, just remember some of these things. A big thank you to all of our staff that makes each day a great one, and for turning every failure into an opportunity for success.