Behind the Scenes at the Vet’s Office
Updated: Apr 24
The holiday season is winding down. Life is getting back to normal. What a great time for an uplifting message about veterinary staff!
People may not realize all that goes into a smoothly operating veterinary clinic. This article will attempt to open readers’ eyes to the key to a well-organized veterinary practice. Of course, the leader does make a difference, but none of it could happen without a great support staff. Let’s look at who helps, starting when you first make contact.
The client service coordinators are integral on so many levels. The skill is evident when you first call or contact a practice. If well trained, these staff members can make you feel welcome on the phone. They have great skill in fielding questions and trying to determine how urgent a problem is and try to negotiate the schedule. They also use those same skills communicating with the doctors when they may need to fit in extra appointments for more urgent problems. Take a moment to thank them for their care – one doesn’t always appreciate how integral they are to the smooth operation of a veterinary practice.
Let’s move toward the back of the clinic. Behind those closed doors is another group of people working in the best interest of pets. The veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants are the ones who do most of the animal wrangling (and lots of animal hugging). Veterinary technicians can be thought of as comparable to nurses in the human field. They go through school and are licensed to perform many tasks that veterinarians also perform, without quite as much glory. They place IV catheters, draw blood, take x-rays, and make a lot of cooing sounds and soothing communication (or straight up bribery with cookies and pet Cheese Wiz). All these activities are performed in a way to minimize fear and handling. It truly is an art form to see a good technical staff at work. With a well-trained technical staff, the veterinarian is freed to see more appointments, and effectively help more people and their pets. It would be difficult to keep a practice alive without a good technical staff.
There will be a handful of employees who support the owner with management duties. This can include ordering supplies and keeping track of controlled drug inventory, paying bills, interviewing employees or coordinating continuing education, either with meetings or going to conferences. With a field constantly changing, one needs to stay up to date on new medications or cleaning products, as well as new equipment. The people involved in management are often trying to juggle these duties on top of performing technical work, answering phones and doing cleaning support. This is frequently overlooked when one comes in for a quick check-up and vaccines.
Last, but not least, we have cleaning staff. Often overlooked, the cleaning staff is truly vital to keeping a veterinary practice alive. They not only set the stage for a pleasant environment the second you walk in the door, but without them, a practice truly can’t survive. There is equipment to scrub and sterilize, and a constant stream of towels and floors to mop. Minimizing contamination is vital to keeping other pets and clients safe during their visit to the clinic. At most veterinary clinics, the entire team participates in the upkeep of the hospital. You will see the client service coordinators running to rooms to wipe down tables and mop the floors. You will see the veterinary technicians and assistants sweeping up and mopping after a nail trim.
Our practice takes time to value all employees, regardless of where they fit in, as the practice can’t run without any of them. Next time you head over to the veterinary clinic for an appointment, take an extra moment to thank them – the practice really can’t work without them.
Berkeley Hills Living Magazine, January 2019