Thursday, October 31, 2013

The World Revolves Around ME.

Sent in by a loyal reader:

After a terribly long day at work last week, I came home for dinner and time with my family.  Helped my son study for a spelling test, read to all of my kids for a bit, and then I finally sat down at 10 pm to speed through my favorite show while my wife finished up in the kitchen.  

For some reason, she decided to check our home phone messages - something we don't do on a regular basis because, well, we just don't.

The last three calls were from a client - a client sitting outside of my clinic, wondering why nobody is there to let her in to get her dogs.  Did I mention she FORGOT to pick them up by closing time?  We closed at 7 and she FORGOT to get them.  

The first message from her was at 7:30 pm.  Did I mention we close at 7 pm?

So I called her at 10 pm and informed her that it was her responsibility to show up on time, before we close, and that no, I would not be meeting her at the clinic right then for her to get her dogs - the dogs she FORGOT at my clinic.  She was angry and amazed that no one simply waited for her to show up.  But I didn't give in.

People seriously know NO boundaries. 

 (Thanks for the entry!  And No, people seriously do not know what "boundary" even means!)


  1. Not saying this is true of the current poster, because clearly I'd have no idea. However, some people invite the lack of boundaries.

    My boss told me just this week that I was crazy for saying I'd never give a client my cell phone number. He said "just imagine what a good practice builder it is, to let a client feel that important to you" or words to that effect.

    I said "When I leave the office, work stops... they can call me when I'm getting paid to give them advice and listen to them go on and on."

    Wondering if he's right and I'm just burnt out/cynical about clients in general, or if he truly is a bit nuts...

    1. No no... a bit nuts, in my opinion. If your practice has an emergency cell, that's a different story, but my personal cell is my personal cell.

    2. I actually agree. Some people do invite the lack of boundaries and then incessantly complain about it.

  2. When I worked in a large farm animal practice I used to make a lot of calls from my cell. I normally blocked my number so clients couldn't save my number. I forgot a few times. The result of this was clients called my personal cell when I wasn't on duty. When I told them this and to ring the emergency out of hours number they would say 'oh we did but the duty vet was busy/on another call/we don't like them. Can you not come and see us?' This pissed me off. Especially when they did it at 2am. I ended up getting a second cell phone and switching it off at night to stop this as I didn't like turning off my personal cell incase a friend or family member needed to contact me. The best one was she I was out of the country and this happened with a client who only ever wanted to see me and no one else at the practice. They sounded as though the actually wanted me to fly home from vacation to see them! NO boundaries!

  3. I find that far too often I get cornered in a store or shopping center and bombarded with questions at the most impractical times. The person isn't always a client, either. Apparently dressing down and trying to blend in is ineffective. They see "vet" and begin with long stories that go nowhere, with questions I can't answer. The conversation is very one-sided and it's as if the person just wants to vent or have their own beliefs verified without taking responsibility for their animal or making the effort to have it examined in a clinic. Meanwhile, I'm trying to buy my groceries, ink cartridge or whatever else I left the house to buy & the cashier is impatiently waiting for me to pay. I've even had conversations with friends interrupted by people I don't know regarding animals I have never seen. It's rude and inconsiderate.

    With respect to cell phones, I've tried to keep the number private, yet it still gets passed around. The people that I want to call when there is a crisis are respectful and don't. People who got the number without permission, after one friend-of-a-friend wrote it down six months ago, call whenever they feel like it.

  4. I have 10 years under my belt and once that initial "wow I'm a doctor and people want to talk to ME" feeling wore off (what, after the first year or so?) I realized that my boundaries are VERY important. I do not share my cell and if someone calls it I punt it. I do not share my personal email and if someone gets it I tell them I won't reply. When I'm off, I'm off - and that gets more and more important as I grow more and more cynical and old. I honestly don't care - until this career pays me what an MD makes, then I don't feel any obligation to be there for people once my doors close at 5 pm. Suck it up buttercup and call someone who cares.

  5. We use a veterinary practice that has a voice mail system for each vet. They must check it on days off, because I have gotten a call back on an evening/day off. And I really appreciated it when I had a critically ill dog. (I've left 2 messages in 25 years) I suppose that they also ignore some of the less critical and clients that abuse the system.
    However, after having this available to me for all these years, I cannot imagine not having the ability to reach my vet if I really needed him/her. Is your practice large enough that someone covers when you are off? People in other professions also have to answer the calls after hours (dentists, tow-truck drivers, even pharmacists), especially in communities too small to have other options available. I understand that you don't want to share your private cell, but do you have some method for your clients to reach you after hours for a true emergency?
    And the "suck it up buttercup" comment has me cringing. I assumed that most, if not all, vets DO care. I'm sorry that you are only 10 years into a career and already beginning not to care. I'm glad, Dr. Sarcasm, that you are not my vet.

    1. Unfortunately, Border Collie Mom, I've had to become callous because of so many clients not respecting my boundaries, as was the topic of the post. After many years of having my vacations interrupted or down right ruined because someone felt their world was somehow more important than mine, (and almost always for a NON "true emergency") I realized that if I did not put up some very clear boundaries with people, then they would continue to show me zero respect with regards to my family.

      After watching a friend get her reputation completely slammed and tarnished online because she wasn't there for a client - because she was home with her baby - and when there were definitely several alternatives for the client - it made me realize just how solid that decision was, for me.

      In actually, of course I provide coverage. My clinic is only closed 1 day a week, and when I am gone, I hire relief doctors. You'd be surprised at how many people still scream at my staff because I am not there 365 days per year.

      I provide 24 hour coverage in the form of relief doctors and referral to the local emergency clinic as well as the other local veterinarians. There is NEVER a time when someone in my area has zero access to medical care. They may not have access to me all of the time, but they are never without coverage.

      They still push the boundaries in a completely inappropriate manner.

      I would hope that you do not treat your vet in this manner, and instead respect that perhaps they too have a family that is important, a life outside of work, kids to care for, other animals to love and cherish... and use the resources available when they are not there instead of screaming at them, ripping them online and try to understand that we, too, need our personal time away from the office.

      Thank you for replying. It is the conversations such as these that opens the eyes of us all to the experience of others, and hopefully helps someone understand another's point of view a little better.

    2. Forgot to mention one other thing... many of us, including myself, are solo docs. That means during a regular week, I work 6 days a week, often putting in 50-60 hours. I cannot be available 24 hours a day on emergency as well and when I leave the office, I am headed towards home to be with my family and do not need to continue to worry about the office or my clients. This is reality. This is why many of us refer to emergency clinics when available. We simply cannot work 24/7 and it's very unfair for anyone in the public to expect that, but boy do they! We do have families and lives as well. Many larger clinics will carry their own emergencies because they have several doctors to carry the load so no one person has to work 7 days a week, and don't necessarily have to utilize emergency clinics. Just wanted to clarify that.

    3. "do you have some method for your clients to reach you after hours for a true emergency? "

      Nope. There's nothing I can do for a "true emergency" except say "Go to the 24 hour ER", which is what our phone message says anyway. The clinic is closed and no one is going to come in and see an emergency after hours, and there's no staff to stay there with the patient anyway. (note: I am one of 4 docs and I am NOT the owner/clinic authority).

      So, there's no (tangible) benefit whatsoever to me being available after hours. And having worked a job with a go-home call phone in the past, it's very stressful to have it there expecting that it could ring at any moment. I've lost a lot of sleep to waking up at all hours *thinking* I heard that bloody thing ring when it actually didn't. A sleep-addled brain is not nearly as useful anyway!

  6. Oh yes, humans nowadays are so self centered. An animal hospital is just as important as a human one, and if you are going to follow the rules for human places(which I doubt this lady even does) you need to also extend the same courtesy to animals.

  7. I understand that you have to set boundaries... it is only reasonable. And while I didn't expect my vet to return my call when he was off, I was very, very, impressed that he did. Perhaps if I called more often, or wasn't a regular client, he might not. I need to be grateful for a group large enough to answer the phone 24/7 and I need to remember to thank my vet for taking such good care of us. Thanks for the reminder.