Didja ever have one of "those days"? Of course you have. And one of mine was yesterday.
The morning was fairly busy, but I was trucking through and doing okay. By lunch time I had only a couple of drop-offs left to be seen, and even with a full afternoon schedule I was comfortable we'd get things done. Then we had several sick pets drop off during lunch. And then the afternoon went all to heck.
A good mix of appointments has routine annual exams and vaccines mixed with puppy/kitten boosters and some sick pets. The sick cases usually take longer but you can make up for that with the quicker and easier vaccinations. Things get backed up when everything has a problem, and that's what happened to me. Each case had a minor or major illness, even the ones that came in just for immunizations. Like a traffic jam, each case backed us up further and further, until clients were waiting around an hour just for me to get to see them. This kind of wait is very unusual in my practice.
I'm a fast and efficient vet, if I do say so myself. I can get through cases quickly and efficiently and have seen 40 pets in a day without leaving late. Most days I leave within 15 minutes of closing, if not right at closing. Every once in a while I'll have sick cases up until the end and may leave 30 minutes late, though this is uncommon. Yesterday I had a dog that dropped off around 1:00 that I didn't even look at until 7:10 (we close at 7pm). I finally left around 8:20, which hasn't happened to me in years. It was an insane afternoon! I really hated the clients having to wait so long, as I stress client service to my staff and wait times of over an hour isn't something I can easily accept. At the same time my staff and I were moving as fast as we could and had to give each pet our best care. I was wasted and drained by the time I got in my car, but we made it through.
But the worst part is also the reason for talking about this (and a bit of a vent). I worked my hiney off yesterday and had less than expected to show for it. My job isn't all about the money, but we also need to be profitable in order to stay in business. And if someone works really hard, they get frustrated if that work doesn't pay off. As busy as I was, I had a lot of clients who declined the recommended care, work-up, or medications. So I spent a lot of time on some cases for very little revenue. Again, I'm not all about the money, but as a business leader I do have to keep an eye on it, and just want to feel like my work pays off. I ended up doing about 75% of what I had expected based on how busy it felt. In fact, today I saw seven fewer pets but did almost 20% more than I did yesterday!
So for anyone planning a career in veterinary medicine, be aware that some days are worse than others, and sometimes you do a lot of work for little reward. Them's the breaks, and are a part of the job.