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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Super-Dooper Pooper Scooper

The last few days here in the Atlanta, Georgia area have been pretty crazy. We've had unprecedented rain and flooding, worse than anyone has seen around here before. Major interstates have been closed due to the extent of the water. Incredible damage has been done, and several people have died. Yesterday was probably the worst of it, but today people have still found themselves unable to get to certain areas because neighborhoods and roads are flooded.

This affected our ability to get staff safely to work, and we were extremely short-handed today. For the first couple of hours at work it was me and two other doctors and nobody else. We finally ended up with two receptionists and one tech for most of the day, and then one of the receptionists had to leave. Most of our clients came in, so things got a bit crazy without our support staff. As the hospital manager and the most experienced person, I ended up doing jobs I normally don't do. I answered phones, checked people in and out, cleaned kennels, swept and emptied trash, and so on. It was so unusual that one of my receptionists took a picture of me with the dust mop.

While it may seem a little strange for the lead veterinarian in a hospital to do all of these jobs. However, I wasn't always a vet. When I was 14 I started working for a local vet in the kennels, cleaning, walking, and bathing. My parents called me a "super-dooper pooper scooper", and really that's what I was. I worked my way through the roles in a veterinary practice, including treatment assistant, receptionist, and really any job you can do in a private practice. So thought I haven't done these kind of jobs regularly in well over a decade, I've still done it longer than anyone working for me. It's not that hard to step back and fill those roles when needed.

Today was one of those days. I firmly believe in teamwork and supporting each other. We had more doctors than paraprofessionals, so I acted as a fill-in, covering the gap wherever needed. I think that it's important for managers to lead by example, showing those under them how they want everyone to behave and act. I also think it's unfair to ask someone to do something you aren't willing or able to do yourself. So that's why my staff may sometimes see me doing things like this.

And it all goes back to the training I received as a teenager. You never forget those early jobs.