I have been volunteering at an animal hospital over the last several months, and I have been able to help out with a variety of things in the clinic and have got to experience and learn a lot about different tasks and procedures. I won’t go over everything I do in the clinic, but you can look at my action posts if you want to know some of the things I do.
Of course, as you all know, COVID-19 has impacted businesses quite significantly, and although animal hospitals were declared an essential service, there were still many challenges that we had to deal with. One challenge the clinic faced was an overwhelming amount of business after the pandemic became worse in Canada. It seemed to be that everyone was panicking and ordering lots of food, which resulted in massive orders that we had to deal with, and a lot of phone calls that the vet techs had to make to let clients know that their food arrived or to explain why it was taking so long. Therefore, what I did to help overcome the huge waves of food orders was opening boxes and checking off items on the invoice, then flattening all the boxes and taking them out to the recycling so they didn’t clutter the clinic. Another challenge caused by COVID-19 was the inability to fully practice social distancing in the clinic since it’s rather small and there almost always needs to be at least two people to work on an animal since one person needs to hold. However, we have been taking extra precautions, such as walking back to back when we need to get past each other, and not allowing clients into the building (except the animals, and only animals who NEED a surgery or appointment). I also wash my hands frequently, I have helped wiped down things that are touched often including doorknobs, handles, keyboards, computer mouses and phones, and we started wearing masks as well.
One way in which my thinking and my perspective on veterinary care has changed is the fact that a lot of care goes into not only the animals, but the owners too. What I mean by that is being a vet isn’t just about taking care of animals – it’s also about speaking to the owners and telling them what is wrong with their pet’s health, what options they have, what the costs for the different options are, what they can do to help cover the expense, and letting them know what they can do at home to keep their pet healthy. Because the outbreak started very shortly after I started volunteering, I didn’t get a chance to observe any face to face interaction between a vet and a client, but sometimes I would be in an exam room to help hold a dog and, after inspection, the vet would call the owner to discuss what they found, so I got to listen to interactions between a vet and a client in that way.
This volunteer work has impacted my future decisions as I now want to make sure that I don’t only focus on animal health and care, but that I understand how to speak with clients and make them feel comfortable, welcomed, and informed enough to be able to make an appropriate decision for their pet. Therefore, to become a veterinarian, I want to make sure I gain experience not just working with animals, but with people too. I did have some experience when taking a dog back to the owner after an appointment, but not much beyond that. Furthermore, if I manage to become a vet in the future, I would accept volunteers looking for experience in a vet clinic because their volunteer work would help me out and it would give them the experience they need and help them reach their goals.
With this volunteer work, I have been able to have a positive impact in the vet clinic by keeping the work environment clean and tidy, fetching things that people need but are too occupied to get themselves, and assisting with animals such as taking dogs outside to go pee or holding a cat or dog still for the vets and vet techs. This gives them more time to do other important things such as speaking with clients, and keeping the workplace clean is important for health and safety, and it takes some time off the hands of the vet techs so that they can focus on other things that need attending to.
Thanks for reading!