What does it actually look like to be a house call veterinarian? Being an in-home vet can be exciting, rewarding, and sometimes challenging. Most of our vets tell us, though, they wouldn’t change it for the world.
Whether you’re considering taking your veterinary degree out of the clinical environment or you’re simply wondering what a mobile vet does, let’s take a look at a day in the life of one of Vetted’s most experienced veterinarians, Dr. Margo Reid.
Name: Dr. Margo Reid
Education: UC Berkeley (B.S.), UC Davis (DVM)
Location: East Bay Area – San Francisco, CA
7:30 a.m. In the morning, I like to look through the appointments that are already on my schedule for the day. I also take a minute to look through upcoming patients’ past records and current concerns so I know what to be prepared for. My first appointment today is at 9:00 a.m. about a 14 minute drive from my house.
8:00 a.m. I check with my veterinary technician on when and where we should plan to meet. I usually work with the same technician each day, but sometimes it changes. Some days we drive to all appointments together, others we drive separately. It all just depends on the locations. Today, we’re meeting outside the first client’s home.
9:00 a.m. I arrive for the appointment and my technician and I head to the door together. We carry a couple of bags containing the tools we need for the exam, a veterinary scale, medications, and other items. They’re a little heavy, but we usually don’t have to carry them too far!
9:05 a.m. Once I greet the client and am in the home, we spend some time discussing the owner’s concerns while the pet (in this case, an 8 year-old tabby cat) is acclimating to our presence and our voices. I look at all past records that an owner may have, then verbalize a treatment plan. In this case, it’s “Cinnamon is due for two vaccines and I also recommend a senior blood screen to check for common senior illnesses like hyperthyroidism. It sounds like her ear is bothering her, and I usually create an ear swab of the ear discharge to send off for testing. Does that sound ok with you?” I always make sure to verbalize all common prices (vaccines, exam, blood test, ear swabs) before proceeding…I never want people to be surprised when they’re invoiced later.
9:15 a.m. Once the owner authorizes a treatment plan, my technician and I work together to get the vaccine injections ready, set out any necessary blood draw tubes, get the ear cleaning solution and the swabs. I give cats a lot of time to perform their actual exam because they really need it. This might mean a few minutes of gentle petting and making friends which earns me huge dividends for exams and blood draws…not the worst part of the job! Most dogs are happy with treats and praise before I examine them, but if trust is their issue I do my best to earn it before handling them.
9:35 a.m. Once the exam and procedures are completed, I discuss my findings with the owner. I talk about any additional recommendations I might have (prescriptions, food changes, etc.) then let them know before I leave that I will email a comprehensive summary for all of the major points that we discussed.
10:05 a.m. My technician and I head back out to our cars and rendezvous at the next appointment address. I often have a few minutes before the next appointment to to complete the record, the charges, prescriptions and often even compose the email summary from the previous visit. I do all this from my (parked) car. I use a mobile hot spot on my phone and keep a small 13″ Chromebook in my glove box for the records. If I have any extra time, I can also answer client emails. Sometimes there is simply no time between appointments to write a record, but whenever I have a moment, I like to keep up with the work. It all just depends on how the day shakes out!
10:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. My technician and I continue from appointment to appointment. Today we saw 4 cats and 2 dogs at five separate appointments. We built in a 45 minute break to grab some lunch.
5:00 p.m. Once I complete my last appointment I take a long, hard look at the traffic pattern. It’s often helpful for me to write my last record in my parked car or at a near by cafe while the nightmarish Bay Area traffic settles down. If all is clear, then I’ll head home to finish up my last bit of records.
Throughout the day, the technician and I will often discuss what we can improve, what seems to be going right during our visits and not-so-right during our visits. I find the mutual feedback incredibly beneficial. Our goals are to be on time, provide excellent care, and create a great client and patient experience, even though every environment, pet, and pet owner is vastly different. The way I see it, the more we reflect, the better we get. We also check in regularly as to what supplies we need and which of us will get them.
Not a single day goes by where I don’t appreciate the gift of being outside of a clinic. I like the weather (all of it!), the scenery at the appointments (those hills!) and even the hustle of our downtown appointments (but not the parking.)
Each day has a rhythm that is familiar, but never the same and never, ever dull.