My work day consists of seeing patients and coming up with a plan, diagnosing their disease, creating a treatment plan and answering pet parents’ questions. It is usually nonstop all day.
When I (Perry Jameson) get home each night and discuss my day with my wife and children, I go over all the things I had to do. You would think I was Superman with all I accomplish in one day.
When I start to think about how all this happened, I realize that I am just the face people see but there are hundreds of people who actually do most of the work: my veterinary technicians.
When I arrive at the hospital around 8:30 a.m., my nurses have already been there for an hour. During that hour they have rounded with the overnight nurses and assessed the hospitalized patients. They will perform blood tests and X-rays so they are ready for me to assess when I walk into ICU.
For any new patients transferring over from the night doctor, they have already looked over the records and started preliminary tests they think I will need.
After performing my physical examination and looking over the tests they performed for me, I call each pet’s parents with a report. I then write my treatment plan for the day and hand it off to a nurse who I know will accomplish it for me over the next 24 hours. They often pick up changes in the patient I may not have.
I then leave the ICU and start seeing the sick dogs and cats that have appointments.
The interaction usually goes like this. A technician suddenly shows up with a cat. They give me her TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration), weight and history of why she is here today. They assist me with my physical examination.
In the past 25 years of examining pets, I have only been bitten or scratched a few times while a nurse has restrained a pet. Thinking about it now, they have done a pretty good job.
After the physical examination, I go in and speak with the parents and get the pet’s history and a description of the present problem. On the travel sheet, I write down which tests I need and within 15 minutes blood work is on my desk and X-rays are on the computer. If an ultrasound is requested, I just show up in the room and the pet is there in position waiting for me. All I have to do is go over the results with the pet’s parents.
During the course of the day, blood test results continually show up on my desk. These were performed the day before by the technicians without any help from me. All I did at some point was say this test was needed and at this time, and then forget about it, until suddenly it is there on my desk. If the results look great, often the nurses will call the pet’s family with the results for me so I do not even have to do that.
When I need a procedure performed, such as endoscopy, again it seems like my role is minimal. The nurses are told what needs to happen. About 20 minutes later, they call me to perform the procedure. They have gotten a catheter placed, given the anesthetics, placed a breathing tube, organized the appropriate equipment and positioned the patient when I walk in. Once finished, they recover the animal then call the parents to let them know all went well.
Sometimes it seems like the samples I collect from a test, such as endoscopy, just disappear to only show up two to three days later as a written report. I forget that the nurses have placed the samples in the correct container, filled out the paperwork and contacted the courier to take the sample to the pathologist.
Not only are the technicians there for me but they are also there for the pets and their families. They make sure the hospitalized pets are comfortable and get the affection that the family cannot provide while separated from them. They comfort the family following euthanasia, making a paw print when requested or taking a sample of fur.
I could not (or any veterinarian for that matter) do what we do on a daily basis without the help of these dedicated animal caregivers. Since they are behind the scenes many times their role is often overlooked.
The job they do, however, is as important as any other in the hospital. As a veterinarian, I know I could not do what I do without them. I am sure if my patients could speak, they would thank them.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to email@example.com.