Saturday, January 26, 2013

That's me in the corner.

So, this one client has been increasingly annoying for over ten years now, and try as I might to gently encourage her from seeking care elsewhere, she is frustratingly loyal to VBB Veterinary Hospital. There are a lot of things about her that annoy me, but hands down the most annoying thing she does is try to get me to attend her church.

In the time I've known her, I've gone from ignoring her church invitations, to politely saying "no thank you", to offering generic excuses along the lines of "I'm sorry, that's simply not possible," to explaining that I have my own place of worship that I prefer, and finally things got to the point where I said "please listen because I am only going to say this one time: I have my own religion. It is not the same as your religion. I not only am not interested in changing my religion, but I am also personally offended by your continued attempts to solicit my participation in your religion. Please stop this, or I'm not going to be able to be your veterinarian any more, and I'd feel terrible about ending our professional relationship over this." 

One might have thought that would put an end to the problem, right? 
Or, failing that, one might have thought I'd be cynical and jaded enough NOT to expect her to cut it out.

Sadly, one would have been incorrect both times, and I was bitterly disappointed that this client continued her attempts even MORE vigorously. Unfortunately the Boss Behaving Badly around here put the kibosh on the idea that I might fire this client...

So - imagine my response to this voicemail:
Hi Dr. VBB! This is Ms. Prossy Letize calling about my new little doggy. Well you know I don't get around so well anymore and I'm mostly in the chair all day, and little Barkmeister has taken to, well - you know.  He jumps up and [Sotto voce] humps me [normal voice again] for 20 minutes and I can't get him off of me!  What do you think could be wrong? Have I made some kind of mistake in his upbringing?  I don't really want to bring him in, unless you have some idea of what might be wrong with him that you could treat. Let me know what you think. Bye now.

Words fail me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The worms crawl in...

The VBB Mailbag has been filling up again with tales of woe from our CBB (colleagues behaving badly...)

Here's one from the harried hands of Dr. CM:

Straight out of school, I started working for Banfield (don’t get me started).  In case you don’t know anything about this amoeba-like monstrosity, Banfield is a corporate run chain of hospitals located inside PetSmart stores.  This creates a weird dynamic between the PetSmart management and the hospital, as clients fail to understand that the two are independent of each other and routinely take their Banfield complaints to PetSmart management.  On the other hand, managers may come to us when faced with odd complaints themselves, as in this one instance.

PetSmart Manager: “Dr. can you talk to this guy?  He is on his way in, and he is on a rampage!  He is claiming the dog food we sold him gave his dog worms.”

Me:  “Sure, send him over when he gets here.”

Guy shows up and I hear him loudly discussing the issue with two of the PS managers.  In about 5 minutes, the original manager heads over to us with a baggy in her hand, angry guy trailing behind her.
She hands me the bag..

PS Manager:  “Here is the worm that Mr. Biofail found in his dog’s stool today.”

Me (taking a quick peek at the “worm”):  “Sir, I can absolutely guarantee that your dog did not get this worm from his food.  In fact, this worm did not come from your dog.”

Mr. Biofail:  “Yes, it did.  It was right there on his poop this morning.”

Me:  “I understand that, but there is NO WAY that this ALIVE, WIGGLING CATERPILLAR came from your dog.  It may have fallen from a tree onto the poop, or was already on the ground and crawled onto…”

Mr. Biofail (voice raised):  “This worm came from the dog food I bought here and I want a refund!!!”

Me:  “Well, you can take that up with PetSmart, but your dog did not eat this ALIVE worm from the food, have it travel all the through his GI tract, and then poop it out STILL ALIVE.  That is not possible.  So I will never say that the food you bought here gave your dog worms.”

Mr. Biofail proceeded to drive to another store with his happily wiggling caterpillar and try the same stunt.  Thankfully, the manager had alerted other local stores…..

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's Not a Level Playing Field

I make no bones about it:   I'm disgusted with the public.  I'm disgusted with their sense of entitlement and their demands placed on those around them when most of them really don't contribute a damned thing to this country.   While there are still a lot of really good people out there, I swear I am coming into contact with more and more people who simply have no appreciation for what we do and are flaming assholes.

A little dog came in to my clinic a few weeks ago after being attacked by something and suffering from a lot of very deep lacerations, and the owner informed me he "had to go and get her from the back of his property with his Quad".  Okay, you own a quad and I don't.  That's perfectly fine.  I'm only a little jealous.  But then he went on a rant to me, telling me that the price I quoted him for wound treatment on his little dog (the wounds were EXTENSIVE) was "ridiculous".  So we did the best we could with what he had, which included treating for shock, cleaning up the wounds and getting the dog on meds.  Hey, sometimes that's all you can do.

Did I mention the dog had never had a rabies vaccine?  And it wasn't spayed?

Anyway, the dog did OK but the owner was ridiculous.   I wanted to tell him to sell his damned quad and maybe that jacked up 4WD truck he was driving.  Or, I dunno, maybe stop popping so many drugs that make you seem like a creepy weirdo to my staff?  I've seen enough of it.  I know.

Just last week I had a hairdresser tell me that $600 was an outrageous amount of money for the emergency pyometra surgery done on her 5 y.o. dog, and she was even more annoyed that the vet wouldn't give her a payment plan for this surgery.   Never mind the facts here, folks:

1.) Spaying your dog when it was a puppy would have been cheaper and avoided this emergency that you obviously did not plan for, and now expect someone else to pay for it until you are able to make all of those payments, if you even do.  
2.)  Perhaps you are living in an area you cannot afford to live in, if a $600 bill sets you back so much that you must make payments or be in a bad financial situation.  Perhaps you are living beyond your means.

I ask, why is this the veterinarian's fault?

I don't think she liked my question, which was: "Do you allow payments on that color and haircut you just gave?"

Her answer:  "No, because I charge a reasonable amount."

Well, then she went on to tell me how vets are doing well, and that perhaps we are charging too much for our services, that she "shouldn't have to care" about our debt loads and dropping salaries.  Yet, we are supposed to care that she doesn't have $600 for her dog's emergency pyometra surgery?  Which, by the way, was a HUGE bargain, IMHO.

My response was to make a bet with her.  I bet her that my cat spays cost less than a cut, color and perm at her place.

I was right.

The public is moving faster and faster towards simply not giving a shit about what we do.  We've lost a lot of respect and are now viewed as glorified techs by many.   Most don't even realize that most of us have 8 years of school under our belt.  (some have 6, I know - that's still a lot!)

How do we fix this?

When a hairdresser (and I am NOT picking on hairdressers so don't start with me on that one) makes more money off a freaking hair cut than we make on doing abdominal surgery...  something is royally screwed up, don't ya think?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Question About Vet School

We at VBB received an interesting letter this last week, asking for opinions on vet school.  We thought it would be most informative to take the questions to our colleagues and get some honest answers.  What you will read in the answers section are responses from real vets, out in practice, out in the "real world", uncut and uncensored.

Hi Vets Behaving Badly!
I absolutely love your blog, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry but all in all it makes me dream of one day walking in your shoes :D

Which leads to my questions: 
1. What did you think of veterinary school? Which one did you go to?
2. Was it worth it? 
3. Would you do it again? The same or differently?

And the best question of all:
4. Would you recommend it?

I am changing careers and have found my passion for animals. So in my hindsight of life, I see where I went wrong and warn people of some nasty pitfalls. 
I am hoping you can do the same for me. Thank you very much.

Responses to these questions:

1. Loved it. Penn. 
2. Yes, would not trade this knowledge for anything. 
3. Yes! Totally would do it again. I love knowing what I know, and building on my knowledge base. 
4. Would recommend the experience to anyone who loves learning about animals & medicine, but would warn them that my recommendation in no way should suggest that the VMD/DVM confers the ability to earn a living wage. That said, I suspect any such degree holder interested in working outside of companion animal practice or even in a nontraditional job (pharm, public health, teaching) can do fine.  I suspect other VBB have very different answers.

Vet school sucked on a daily basis till fourth year. I no longer use the Krebs cycle and not being able to draw the clotting cascade anymore has not impacted my career. Fourth year was fun but long days because of the amount of scut work. It was not worth the debt load that I have, and if I had to do it over again, I would look more closely at PA programs and other human health care fields. Sadly PAs make as much money as vets with half the grad school debt. That said, I love what I do and am at a good place in my career now.

Would I do it again? Yes.   Would I make better decision about how I did it?  Hells yea! The debt load is ridiculous, so you have to really love what you do so tht you are okay living very tightly budgeted for a long time. Also, make sure where you eventually want to live will actually need the kind of vet you want to be when you expect to graduate, the field is completely over-saturated in some areas and finding a good job is going to be hard. I would do this no matter what becasue this is all I have ever wanted, but I am currently trying to encourage my niece to look into other avenues.

What did I think about veterinary school? There wasn't a lot of joy to classes 8 hours a day. It was the necessary thing to get to being a vet. I didn't spend much time thinking about it at all. That said, I wouldn't do it again. I would have been just as happy as a farmer and what I spent on vet school would have allowed me to start out with very littel debt and a nice little farm. I'd still be broke, I'd still be working for myself, I'd still work with animals and I wouldn't have to deal with the public.

Vet school sucked til third year. it was like high school in that you saw the same 100 people all day, ever day-except now 95% of those people are type A women in their early/mid 20's and the added fun of booze being legal really fueled the gossip cycle. Getting into the clinical rotations was more fun, but made for much less sleep and absolute exhaustion-you know you're running your ass off when all you eat every day is a pint of Ben and jerrys once you get home, and you LOSE 10# in 3 weeks.

Was it worth it? I don't know. Today, I'm having a bad day, and I'm going to say no. Some days, I might answer yes. Would I do it again? Nope. I'd stick with public health unless I could get someone else to foot a hefty chunk of the tuition bill for me.

Year one, too many PhDs teaching who'd never examined a patient in their lives, too few DVMs. Years two and three, better, had some great DVM profs; year four, fine, should have had two clinical years instead of one, we wasted way too much time on useless stuff in year one. Way too much gossip and BS from fellow students, several people who should have washed out didn't.   No.

1) A. It was the hardest thing I've done in my life. And like anything, it was what you made it. I had a wonderful time. I most certainly do not miss the workload, and the pressure. But I do miss the people terribly. 
 1) B - LSU
2) For me, it was. It has certainly not been as financially rewarding as I thought. And I do feel that the majority of my colleagues are jerkwads. But I have found enough nuggets amongst my colleagues to make it worthwhile.
3) If I could relive my experience, I'd do it again, warts and all. I would learn a lot more about money a lot earlier. But if I had to do it today, at today's costs, no.
4) Again, with today's costs vs. income, I'd run away. I'd go into exercise equipment or welding or financial planning.

Loved vet school. It was like boot camp, a living hell, pressure/pressure/pressure. I thrived on it and on the camaraderie. I went to UGA and graduated in '85.

I loved vet school. Wish I could have stayed in academia. Looking back though I think I would have chosen another profession.

With the debt I accrued, would I do it again? No. But what else would I do? Since I can't answer that, then yes, I would do it again.
I think I would be way, way smarter with money.
I could've worked in vet school. It would have SUCKED, but I could have done it.

It did suck. I did it. I remember one night of driving home at the end of a shift at the ER (an hour from school) after working all weekend and hallucinating that the white lines on the highway were rabbits jumping at me. And I remember more than once barely making it through an 8AM exam after an overnight shift. But I was young and it didn't occur to me that what I was asking of myself was superhuman.

Year 1&2 sucked and pretty much completely changed me. I did well and love my classmates, but fuck I don't like gossip so I became a loner. Natural extrovert going in, forced to become introvert.
I change my mind daily on if I would do it again. Money wise, hell no. Not sure what I would do instead.

I'd probably do it again if I had to live life over again. Though if I was 22 and considering applying today I'd think twice now because of the money. I can't see how you can escape the crushing debt unless you put your life on hold to pay off the debt, live like a pauper as a degreed professional, or somehow have family money or win the lottery. It's not like you can work and even make a dent in the debt while in school these days.

If it was 1985, yes, I would do it again. Today? If I was bound and determined, I'd join the Army and let Uncle Sam pay for it. VS was a necessary evil. I hated the back-biting (and some of it came from the Interns and Residents). Friday night kegs kept me sane (and I usually wasn't even drinking {much}). UGA rarely gets $$$ from me, but I cover at least 1 keg at Alpha Psi each year.

I had a love/hate relationship with vet school.   I loved parts of it and hated parts of it.  There were a lot of very condescending residents and PhDs who were awful to deal with, and I realized as a fourth year student you aren't really there to learn, you are there to provide support to the DVMs on staff.  I didn't *really* learn to be a vet until I got out into private practice.   But, overall, I enjoyed vet school, despite the stress and pressures of it all.  Would I trade it?   There was never anything else I wanted to do, but now that I know what I know, I'd never go.  The profession is in decline, salaries are dropping and costs are going up, so earning a living as a vet is going to get harder and harder.  I'm just thankful I'm on this side of the fence and not just starting out.   Oh yea - LSU, 2003.