If you follow this blog, you know that I was a general practice technician for 9 years before joining Smart Flow. While I love my new work outside of the clinic, I must admit it was a bit of a struggle at first. I moved to a new city after I transitioned from clinic work, and as I stood at the reception desk of the local vet clinic waiting to pay for my cat food and it hit me: I was officially a client. And let me tell you, life seemed a whole lot different from the other side of the counter.
After years of dealing with difficult clients, the last thing I wanted to do was become one. But when you have almost a decade of clinical experience under your belt and are a self-admitted control freak, it turns out this is more challenging than it seems.
Learning to trust a vet clinic as an “out of the field” technician was the hardest part. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What’s the group dynamic of this team? Would I want to work here myself? What’s the level of patient care? Do they have up-to-date equipment?” The questions went on and on and I realized a) if I asked them all these questions I would definitely seem crazy and controlling and b) I would have to just go with my gut and choose a clinic I felt comfortable with.
That’s when it dawned on me that a huge part of my decision in choosing a vet clinic for my own pets was based on emotion and how they made me feel. The receptionist was friendly and knowledgable, the technicians answered my questions without seeming annoyed, and the vet seemed to appreciate my knowledge and insight into my pets’ health.
I also give a lot more credit to clients now that I am one. I think we tend to take for granted how stressful the entire “taking my pet to the vet” experience can be for a client. To us, corralling a cat into a carrier for vaccines or bringing a dog in for a spay are simple everyday occurrences. It took me becoming the client myself to fully understand how it feels from their side; that it's not an everyday occurrence and in fact is quite nerve-racking.
Really, it's all the seemingly "little" things that cause an impact on the client. Waiting for a phone call after surgery = anxiety. Being put on hold when I call in for an update = anxiety. Expecting blood results on Tuesday and they don't come in until Wednesday = anxiety. Not realizing you forgot to call in your prescription until you’re out of meds = anxiety (and yes I admit I have done this).
Most practices are really great at keeping this in mind and helping to relieve the stress of a vet visit for their clients and patients, especially when it comes to sensitive topics like euthanasia. But I think it’s also imperative to keep in mind those "little things". It's incredibly eye-opening to walk in the other person’s shoes, even if it makes you realize that you’re “one of THOSE clients”.