Is It True? A Response to Wal-Mart=Veterinary Hospitals
As a Blogger, you’re not just a writer- you have to read, and do quite a lot of it. There are days when I find myself doing nothing but peruse WordPress for new and interesting articles. A lot of the time it’s veterinary or animal related, but I also look at blogs pertaining to other interests- crafts, sewing, homesteading, photography, etc. However, I get really excited when I find another blog written by a veterinarian or another veterinary technician. Which is what brings me to the topic of today’s post.
One of the blogs I follow is written by someone in my chosen profession, and for the most part, I like and agree with what she has written. However, when this subject line showed up in my WordPress Reader:
It got me so angry I almost didn’t even want to read it. How could someone compare veterinary medicine to such a monopoly of a company like Wal-Mart? Not only is it ridiculous (to me), but being in the veterinary profession, I find the comparison quite insulting.
However, after reading her post, my mood changed completely. Not because I agreed with what she says (because for the most part I don’t), but I felt so sorry for this girl. I don’t know what saddened me the most- that this girl has worked at so many horribly managed hospitals, or that she feels that all veterinary hospitals are like this. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how many other veterinary hospitals there are out there in the country that are this horrible.
While some of the points she touches on are very true such as- low wages, crappy insurance, non-paid working interviews and buying your own uniforms- the majority of them I have never seen, and I’m appalled that other vet hospitals are so immoral to expect so much from their staff.
“Paid low wages.“
Of course I wish I was paid more, however when I did a salary checker on career builder, I’m at the top of the pay scale for my profession in my area. So even though I feel I’m not making enough to support myself, that may have less to do with my employer and more to do with the fact that I live in an extremely expensive area of the east coast. This is also the only practice I’ve ever worked in, so I have nothing to compare to.
“No, or extremely poor health insurance.”
When I started at my job, I was still young enough to be under my parents insurance. And my parents had really, really awesome insurance. Like amazing. The copays were ridiculously low, and I didn’t have anything to pay monthly for it. So when I hit the age limit and needed insurance through work, of course I hate my jobs insurance- I have to pay over $200 a month for it, and the deductible is $2,000! But, my job reimburses our deductible, so essentially I don’t have to pay anything until I hit it. Which, so far I haven’t had that happen.
“Required to come early, stay late, or miss lunch–getting gypped out of breaks.”
This, to me, is complete and utter bull shit. I have never been expected to come in earlier than scheduled to set up the day. Especially without pay (which the writer did not specify, but it seemed like it was assumed). I’ve never been expected to work without a break except for when we have lunch and learns. Which basically, we sit there and listen to a drug rep talk for an hour while eating a free meal. So I don’t consider that being gypped. Unless I’m pet sitting and need to go let an animal out on my lunch. But usually we have enough notice of a lunch and learn that I can work something out if needed.
The only time I’ve ever not received a lunch, is if I requested it. For example- on Saturdays I work 8-3, so I’m eligible to get a half hour lunch. However, lunches start at 2 when appointments end. Why am I going to take a half hour lunch just to go home half an hour later?
Now, the staying late part I somewhat agree with. Our schedules for the most part are working until closing. Which means we leave when we’re done closing up the hospital. But we get paid for it. It’s not like I have to work until 7:30, clock out, than stay and work for an extra hour to finish closing without pay.
I’m also one of the few people who are trusted to spend the night for critical patient, or come in late in the evening to check on them. But here’s the thing- I’m compensated for it. I get paid for an hour of work even if I’m their for 15 minutes. I’m paid well for overnights, and if I’m scheduled to come in the following morning I’m either told to take the morning off if it’s a slow day, or if its gonna be a super busy, holy shit type of day, I’m asked to take some time to go home, shower, change and eat before coming back. But it’s always “come when you’re ready”.
“Management/owners make exponentially more than employees”
First of all- obviously the business owner is going to make more. Especially if they’re a vet- they did go to school for 8 freaking years for Christ sake! Depending on your state, vet techs are not required to go to school or be licensed. Of course we’re going to make way less than them. Now, in regards to office managers, book keepers, etc- unless they have a shit ton of experience, certification, etc, I do think they tend to be over paid just because the word manager is in their title. I do know from a vet tech friend who works at a local 24hr emergency facility that the higher up office types make 6 figures incomes. Which is a bit sickening considering my friend had to fight to the point of quitting just so she could get a $1 raise.
“Many hours a week–overtime pay is not paid at all, or very frowned upon”
Of course employers don’t want you to have overtime- I have never worked at any job, veterinary or otherwise, that was actually OK with overtime. But I’ve never worked a job that never paid me for the time that I’ve worked, and I’m pretty sure an action like that isn’t even legal.
My job does not require people to work weekends. We have a Saturday crew, a regular Sunday tech, and we have a revolving tech schedule for Sundays when we have more than 25 animals in the hospital. The only time I would think you would be required to work weekends would be if that’s what you are hired for. In which case, you have no room to complain about working weekends.
And our holiday schedule? We are required to sign up for 2 holiday shifts a year, and we get time and a half. No question about it. And if the holiday falls on a day the I usually work? I get 6 hours of regular pay. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
Other points the writer brings up:
“must purchase own (mandatory) uniform–4 of my 6 hospitals, at least.”
Yes I buy my own uniforms, but not because my job does not supply them- every year we are given 2 sets of scrubs. I still buy my own because while the shirts are fine, I never like the pants. So I always buy my own, and but I attribute that to me being picky and having a big ass.
“little or no training, especially in an official capacity” and “as an off-shoot of that, maybe getting thrown into a (possibly life or death to the patient) situation you are not comfortable with or not knowledgeable enough to do.”
When I first started, I feel I was trained pretty well. The majority of the time it was the head technician doing the training, and if not her than it was one of the senior technicians or the doctors. For as long as I can remember if I, or anyone for that matter, was getting trained, they had to be in the presence of a doctor, the head tech, or a senior tech while they were practicing. Once they felt that the tech in training was competent than they were aloud to work on their own. For example, blood draws. When I first started I was only aloud to draw in the presence of a doctor, head tech or senior tech. I had to keep a running tally of the pets name, whether the vein was a saphenous or cephalic (front leg or back leg), if I completed the blood draw or if I was unsuccessful. I had to do that for at least 2 months before I was aloud to draw on my own.
I don’t remember ever getting thrown into situations I wasn’t comfortable with. If there was an emergency situation, usually I had to hold the pet while the experienced person did all the work. I don’t see a problem with that.
“working short-staffed (more often than not)”
Sadly, I do agree with this one. Having worked at my particular practice for almost 6 years, I’ve seen many people come and go. And only once, maybe twice, have we ever fallen into a routine where we didn’t feel like we were being spread too thin. I don’t have a solution or an explanation for this.
“sick leave very frowned upon, or not granted at all. Because a small business is dependent on each and every employee every day they are scheduled.”
This I find odd- I’ve never been denied sick leave, and in fact have been told to go home if I came to work sick because the managers didn’t want me infecting everyone else!! I’ve never heard of anyone being flat out denied sick leave. But I’m also not quite sure what the author means by sick leave- taking one day or an extended leave? Either way, I’ve never known of anyone to be denied sick leave.
Now having said all this, I started to realize something- I’ve worked at one hospital my entire career. Do I even have a right to give my opinion on any of these subjects? I only have one hospital to compare all of these situations too, and by comparison this chick is making my hospital look pretty damn good, amazing even. If I had worked at the amount of horrible places that she has, I would have left veterinary medicine a long, LONG time ago. Reading her post makes me scared for my future…I know I’m not destined to stay at my current place of employment forever. As much as I would love to stay here, the state I live in is far to expensive for most lower middle class people to live comfortably. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck in a rented apartment with no yard my whole life! I want my fiance and I to have a small piece of property with our animals that we can call our own. But I don’t want to spend my life working at horrible hospitals like this girl has.
So, to anyone else working in the veterinary field- What do you think? Is veterinary medicine on the same level as Wal-Mart like the hospitals she has worked at?