Friday, October 7, 2011

Work Grumps, Case Themes, and a Little Whimsey

A little grump, a little whimsical; just a mishmash of goo this morning...

I'm sure I've mentioned that the boss now has his wife working as receptionist. It started as a temporary measure while the kids' class schedule prevented having someone there in the morning for a couple of hours. Because none of the kids were working out well up front and they failed to alter their schedules, it became a full time problem. Now, we have hired another person, who I like so far, to work part-time receptionist and part-time in the "middle."

The whole situation has exploded in a way. This will probably be confusing, but I'll try to explain what is happening. One of the kids is the cousin of the licensed tech who is currently out on maternity leave (second daughter born via C-section last Monday, 10-3, healthy and everyone doing well). Originally, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She has failed to work out well in any position and has already decided she doesn't want to be a veterinarian but a vet tech. She started out as a receptionist and, not only were we frustrated constantly but we were also getting constant complaints from the clients. Her kennel weekends stink; animals aren't properly taken care of and she just doesn't seem to care. We've moved her to kennel in the afternoons, thinking it might help but she also doesn't seem to care in that position either. I guess I should add that she's terribly inconsistent. On rare days, she does well but those are few and far between. Her cousin, just before going on maternity leave, told her she would be taking over the "middle" position. This tends to be the coveted post because it is viewed as getting to do more cool stuff. First, her cousin spoke completely out of turn, not even consulting us. Second, supposedly her cousin understood that her performance was not acceptable but chose to tell her that anyway. Third, she is definitely not the person we would place in that position.

At our recent office meeting, I spoke of many of these problems then intended to pull all 3 of the kids aside to speak in private but haven't been able to for multiple reasons. This child is one of those personality types that I really fail to comprehend (it's going to be very difficult for me to talk to her) because they seem to never recognize when they do something wrong and blame it all on others. In my opinion, she needs to go but I've also said that since her first weekend when she left the hard to handle dog in a cage with no care and never called anyone about it all weekend. Unfortunately, I don't have this authority. In lieu of that, I can and have significantly cut her hours. If there is failure to improve they will drop more.

Of the other 2 kids, one does a decent job up front but gets overwhelmed rather easily. Besides, she's the best in the kennel and to pitch in for pretty much any job. The third was banned from the front quickly. She does okay in the kennel but isn't great at pitching in to help with other things. When I need another set of hands, I can never find them when she's working.

Our new person is doing well up front, picking up quickly, and I have no major complaints yet. She seems to care and looks for ways to help and make things run better. She has had some experience in the past and helps in the "middle" as well. Which brings me back to the wife. She's still hanging on and won't go to the planned schedule or ever let us know things in advance like when she needs a day off so that we can plan for coverage. I've inherited planning the schedule but yet certain people are off limits.

Having the wife there is like having Dianne reincarnated but 1000 times worse because she is the wife so what do you say about it? Dianne was a close personal friend of the boss, which was bad enough, but now it's family... She takes messages and we never get them, doesn't pull charts, doesn't let us know things, etc. etc. etc. The other recurrent theme is appointments being set during the 12-2 period that is "lunch." The boss is almost always out for the full 2 hours. I rarely leave the building but use the time to catch up. Charts, phone calls, client instructions, dropped off patients that haven't been checked yet, surgery that ran over, etc. It's also the time I typically use to see employee pets if needed as well as anything that may be needed on my herd. Lunch for me usually doesn't happen or consists of nibbling cheddar cheese while doing one of the above tasks. Every once in a while I'll run out and grab something or take recycling or deposit my check but it's just not the norm. Because of this, suddenly there are routine appointments being taken during that time. (Don't misunderstand, emergencies are always accepted but routine stuff is usually set around that opening or told to drop off.) The end result is that I'm now staying late on an almost daily basis to finish what I couldn't finish during lunch.

I'm going to relate a conversation that occurred last week between myself and the wife (there's a cartoon version of it...) I was examining a dog before anesthesia for surgery. Wife: Scooby ---'s mom called, he has tapeworms and she wants to pick up medicine. Me: That's fine, just pull the chart for me. Wife: The groomer saw the tapeworms. Do you still need the chart? Me: Yes, please pull it. Wife: He is seen here routinely. Do you still need the chart? Me: Yes. I need the chart! (Inside my head I'm saying "JUST PULL THE DAMNED CHART!!!!!") Bear in mind, too, that this was also after the office meeting in which I enumerated "pull the chart" to the point of redundancy. That's what I mean; we have rules and ways the clinic is run but they apparently fail to apply to the wife.

The other major aggravation with work is that I do not feel that I can trust anyone (including the boss) to actually properly care for the patients. The only problem is that I can't be there 24/7 myself. So what am I to do? I hate leaving critical patients on my day off because they typically are worse when I go back and usually because of something that was done with which I don't agree or because something that was instructed was not done... Not only can I physically not be there and control the situation but it is also unfair to my kids. Plus there is all the stuff at home that I have to do. I went to a meeting at AVMA about managing your time and the top recommendation was to delegate. How do you delegate when there is no one you can really trust to do what you ask and do it right? (By the way, I also feel that I should state that although I have perfectionist tendencies and am very hard on myself I am not nearly that hard on others.)

The other fun part about having the wife around is that their son-in-law has started vet school this year. I've determined that she must be a very insecure person because she takes everything poorly and gets really defensive and seems determined that she has to outdo on everything. The son-in-law failed to obtain admission to the school where I went which was "his dream" per mother-in-law. I'm probably being judgmental but what I've known of the young man was not impressive. He seemed very lazy to me and I find it frightening that he suddenly decided to become a vet after his fiance said she wanted to be just like her mom (i.e. get a college degree, marry a vet, and live as a kept housewife.) It affected me much like the 2 students I knew as an intern who said the reason they went to vet school was that it seemed like "something they could do." When asked if they were glad I was told no that it had been too much work but that now they were in debt too far to change their minds. (Maybe I'm wrong to have issues with these viewpoints. I just know how hard of a time I'm having when I have such a passion for what I'm doing. Maybe it's easier when you don't...) Anyway, sorry about the rabbit trail, back to the story. Apparently the fellow made the highest grade on the first anatomy exam and was one of only 2 A's on some other exam therefore the wife has been compelled to tell me all about how wonderful he is doing, etc. and how sorry the other school should be that they failed to accept him. Although they keep saying that they do not intend to return home, I have a hard time seeing through my cynical viewpoint that someone who has not had to work for anything (dad-in-law, my boss, paid for his undergrad after he forfeited a scholarship elsewhere and is paying for his vet school) will want to actually work for a living when he could come sponge, oops, I mean work for, his dad-in-law. Sorry, the whole situation tends to annoy me. Maybe I'm jealous because I had to work so hard for it all.

The summary of all of the above is that work right now is driving me out of what little mind I have left.

As usual for me, I am working on themes with my patients. I've never been sure but I've often wondered if this happens so that I can really, really get the hang of something. Lately it has been penis / preputial issues and cats with high liver enzymes for no apparent reason. First there was a youngish dog whose penis was constantly protruding. I determined that the preputial orifice was too large allowing the skin to roll and entrap the penis. The second was a 7.5 week old puppy with the opposite problem. The end result on him was that his urine was collecting within the prepuce causing constant irritation, inflammation, and intermittent infection. A little plastic surgery on both resulted in cessation of their clinical signs. I know that I mentioned the first cat with the huge ALT. He went home eating, no more vomiting, value back to normal, and hasn't looked back. I now have a cat in the hospital who presented for decreased appetite and vomiting also. He is a little icteric. Total bili was 4.5, ALP=715, ALT not readable. No history of toxins, etc. Nothing I have found yet to aim at but started him on IV fluids and, ironically, he ate voluntarily shortly after being left in the hospital... Cats. Go figure. Still don't know what his outcome will be but I was encouraged by his eating. It was really funny because the good kid was going to syringe feed him just to see if he'd take it and not vomit. She accidentally shot the food out into the cage and he promptly set about eating it. Maybe he was afraid she'd shoot him next if he didn't. I may make a cartoon out of that, too...

On a whimsical note, I was reading the funny named pets commentary in the DVM magazine and it prompted me to share a few of my own. I tend to name things fairly regular names then give funny nicknames. I also have several really boring names but they came that way. My poodle Buddy came named. He has picked up the nicknames Budda Boo (his belly is chubby and reminds me of a Budda belly), Cujo (he tried to eat Can't Spell way back when), and Einstein (he's incredibly smart and has the wild hair to go with it.) Sam is a Shepherd / Collie mix who gets called Sam Bones, Sam Baloney (private eye), and J.P. O'Hairy (after J.P. O'Hara the sheriff who struts a lot in the John Wayne movie El Dorado). I have a Border collie named Indiana Jones who is usually called Indy. He lives with an ancient Chow / Rottie mix who is red and came to me with the name of Chief. Often the pun is made "Indy & Chief" which sounds like Indian Chief. We also often say Chief Red Dog. My flat coat retriever cross that died a couple of years ago was named Flash after the Basset hound in The Dukes of Hazzard. We called her Flash LaRue most often but also Flashley (silly joke based on Gone with the Wind in which we thought it funny if Melanie and Ashley had ran past each other in the post-war reunion scene). Scout is a Jack Russell terrier cross. He answers to Squirt and I call him the Da-Chi Terror, which he loves, because he looks like a Dachshund, Chihuahua, Jack Russell mix. Mollie, my Border collie who died, always prompted me to burst into song with one of the "Molly" songs. Yoda gets called "Yoda-man" quite often and Thumper is "Thump-Thump" with referral to Pirates of the Caribbean when Jack asks where is the thump-thump. Probably more ironic since he was named for the rabbit in Bambi. I know I'm leaving many out but those are the ones that came to mind at the moment.

With the constant frustration right now, I find that turning to silliness allows me to cope a little better. It has resulted in lots of new cartoons, plenty of sarcastic comments at work, and just some plain old goofiness. We have painted the kennel door with chalkboard paint which has been a fun outlet at times. I also saw a great T-shirt that I want. It said something to this effect, "Text messaging in the 1800's, . _ . . _ _ _ . _ . ." That is Morse code for "LOL." And, yes, I did look it up to make sure it was correct:)


Judy Johnson said...

So many of the things you have written about in this post sound familiar!! I miss working in a vet clinic but don't miss the politics and personalities of the staff from top to bottom!! I do miss the interaction with the 4-legged clients and owners for the most part. TVe sad thing is that lots of places of work of any type have those problems!! I'm glad you have chosen your blog as a way to vent! I love reading about your days,patients and pets!
How can one have animals and not end up giving them nicknames??? We have Hope our heeler dog aka Hopey, Hopey Tumbles, Vesta another heeler, aka McVes, V and Boyd our border collie who also goes by Boydie Boo, Boydenberry and Boydster. We have an inside cat named Tyler who also is called Ty the Kitty Guy. I'll also admit to several ranch horses who have affectionate nicknames!
Hope your days are good!!

Anonymous said...

Advice from one who has worked in a practice in which the veterinarian's wife was also employed (receptionist/tech/office manager/etc.):

1. Keep your resume current

2. Network, and keep your nose in the breeze for better offers

3. If the right job becomes available, pursue it and bail if you receive an offer; you don't owe your boss a thing

4. Avoid veterinarian/spouse practices in the future

One of my friends still works for the veterinarian/wife practice I left. The veterinarian has since hired his daughter (office manager), his wife's best friend (technician), his daughter's friend (veterinarian), AND his son is currently contemplating attending veterinary school. Think my friend is going to be offered partnership anytime soon???

foffmom said...

I will second the opinion of anonymous. An untrained spouse in the clinic is bad news, as they outrank anyone else there regardless of having gone to vet school. And they can be irrational but no one can control their outbursts. Danger Will Robinson!