I've often said, and honestly felt, that I'm not really more important than anyone else on my staff. Being a veterinarian doesn't give me any greater inherent "worth" than my techs or receptionists, and I don't feel that I'm in any way superior to them. I couldn't do my job without them, so they are just as important to the function of my clinic as I am.
Or so I've thought, and recently discovered to the contrary. I actually AM more important!
For the last few days I've been sick with some sort of cold that's developed into laryngitis. I've been coughing, had a sore throat, had difficulty talking, and have even off and on run a low-grade fever. And through it all I've continued working. Why? I haven't had a choice.
I've had staff who come in and work while sick, and I sincerely appreciate their work ethic. I've also had them call in sick for various reasons, and I certainly understand that. When someone is sick and can't make it into the clinic, we always try to call someone else in to cover their shift. However, that's not always possible to do at the last minute, and sometimes I've had to work short-handed. We always make it through and the doctors sometimes do tasks they wouldn't otherwise have to. It's not always easy, but it can be done. I've answered phones, run lab tests, and even checked people in and out because we had fewer than normal people and everyone had to chip in.
When a paraprofessional calls in sick, life goes on and the clinic can still function, even if it limps a bit. However, if the vet calls in sick, everything shuts down. Sick patients can't be seen, pets don't get their vaccines, and surgeries get cancelled. No matter how important the other staff are, none of them will have a job to do without the vet.
That's why I've been going to work the last few days and will go to work tomorrow. One of my associates is out of town for the holiday and the other one is off for a few days (as well as got called to one of our other locations yesterday). We've had a full appointment schedule and a full surgery docket, so if I didn't go in we'd have to call all of those clients, reschedule everyone, and not allow any sick pets to be seen. Obviously that's not ideal for the clients or patients and hurts our revenues as well. So, I go in.
Okay, before you start getting on my case, I do worry about being contagious, and have been using disinfectant wipes after I make a phone call as well as have been avoiding shaking hands with clients. I also know that the best thing I can do to get better quickly is to stay home and rest. But I can't close down the clinic for 2-3 days because I have a cold.
So not to belittle anyone else's job (which are VERY important to me!), but the single greatest limiting factor in the function of a veterinary clinic is the veterinarian.
And yes, if I'm not greatly improved by Friday (my next day off) I will go to see my own doctor.