My veterinary practice is purely mobile at this point.
I travel to peoples’ homes and farms to see their animals.
This can go very smoothly, or it can be an exercise in frustration depending on what is going on.
Some people call me for an appointment and are prepared for my arrival.
Others think they are prepared and really aren’t.
It’s when owners aren’t prepared that things can be very frustrating. Here are 7 things you can do to help make my job, or any traveling veterinarian’s job easier .
1. Remember That I’m Coming
Yes, this has happened. I get to a farm ready to do something and the owner isn’t there. I call from the barn to make sure they are coming out…and they went to the store. When this happens, I still have to charge for my time. It’s frustrating because I could have been helping someone else. If you have to be somewhere else, please just call and let me know!
2. Have The Animal(s) Caught
Few things can waste my time more than waiting for an unprepared owner trying to catch the flighty animal.
On any given day, I can have one farm call or several farm calls for that day. When I’m prepared to start, having to wait for folks to catch an animal is very frustrating.
This is especially true one days when I have more farms to visit and it takes a half an hour or longer to corral an animal. Have your animals in the barn or in a pen. They don’t have to be tied up. They just have to be where we can get to them quickly.
3. Have The History Ready
Many times when I’m heading to a farm, I only get a quick summary over the phone; just enough to let me know what’s going on.
When I get to the farm, in order to help the animal fully, I need to know everything that has gone on, as well as that particular animal’s history.
It makes a big difference when I’m treating a downed animal to know how old it is, whether it’s pregnant or not; if there was anything it may have eaten, or if there was an injury.
It also helps to know how much time or money you are willing to put into the animal. Tell me ahead of time what the animal’s purpose is.
If it’s a food animal, there are medications that I can’t give them. I don’t want to treat your animal with certain usable drugs if that animal is going to slaughter in X number of days.
4. Tell Me What You Have Already Done or Not Done
When I come to treat a sick animal this is important for me to know.
If you have already given a pain medication, please inform me, so that I don’t give it again and overdose your animal.
Tell me what you have already tried, so I can try something different, or tweak what you have already done.
And let me know which medications you have on hand, and which ones you don’t. Speak up and tell me what you are comfortable doing for the animal and are able to do. That information can help me plan the treatment of your animal.
5. Have the Paperwork Ready
If you are taking your animals to shows or to fairs, or selling them, it helps me to know ahead of time where you are going.
With that information I can double-check the requirements for you.
If you are going out-of-state, there may be extra tests the state you are going into requires.
Also there may be additional things a particular show wants you to do.
Be prepared for that. Because if I find something that is required and you didn’t know about it, I will let you know. Keep in mind that there are time frames for when I can do exams, tests, and CVIs before shows, fairs or sales. Knowing ahead of time when to schedule me to come out is important.
6. Tell The Truth
I can’t tell you how unbelievably frustrating it is to go to a farm and have an owner flat-out lie to me about what is going on with the animal.
I do the physical exam and come up with a likely diagnosis, but the owner swears that it can’t be that because of X, Y, or Z that they did.
When you lie to the vet, we can’t help you or your animal.
Our job isn’t to judge you. Our job is to help you give the best care to your animals.
We can’t help you take care of your animals if we don’t know what’s going on. I don’t care that you made a mistake and forgot to give a medication or gave the wrong dose. I don’t care if you forgot to lock the pen and they got out and into something they shouldn’t have.
I don’t care that you should have being doing something, and didn’t because of time or money constraints.
I don’t care about any of that.
What I do care about, is that I know about everything so I can treat your animal appropriately.
With misinformation, I may treat your animal inappropriately; which terrifies me, because I could accidentally kill your animal. Just tell me the truth when I show up, and I will help you find the best way to take care of your animals.
7. Listen and Tell Me What You Don’t Understand
Another frustration many vets have, are clients who apparently listen to everything we tell them…and then don’t follow through on treatment.
Most of us went through at least 8 years of school to become veterinarians. Many of us went to school even longer because of Masters Degrees and internships. We learned all the building blocks of diseases and treatment plans, so we can go out and help people care for their animals. When we have worked with you to come up with a treatment plan, and then learn on follow-up that you didn’t complete the treatments needed to help your animal that hurts us because it means you don’t trust us.
When we are going over the treatment plan, or explaining the reason why we are recommending this vaccine or this prevention management, if there is something you don’t understand just tell us. I for one am happy to go into more detail as to why I’m doing something. If you don’t agree with something I suggest or recommend, tell me why so we can work something else out.
Veterinarians work hard to help people take care of their animals. We didn’t go into veterinary medicine for the money; we chose the profession because we care. We went through 8 or more years of school in order to practice in a profession we love. And we all swore an oath:
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.
So when you call us to come take care of your animals, remember veterinarians put a lot of time and effort into what we do. We will work with you to help you care for your animals.
But you have to help us out too.
Respect our time and we will respect yours.
Tell us what we are going to be seeing on your place so we can plan accordingly.
Let us know what you have done already and what you are willing to do.
Be honest with us.
Whenever I go onto a farm or to some one’s home I have sworn to do my best. But I need your help. Please keep in mind the things that you as the animal owner can do to help me or any veterinarian, to do just that.
***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.
If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013