Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer "break," continued

As summer "break" continues, it's still not all that much of a break. I've just finished my third week of work at the Giant Veterinary Corporation clinic in Northglenn. That means I'm halfway done with my stint there! Following, please find a semi-organized listing of some of my random thoughts about this job.

I'm working 36-40 hours a week, and as mentioned in a previous post, I'm quickly recalling what it's like to spend that much time in a vet clinic. This particular clinic has about 3 or 4 stools that are shared by anywhere from 4 to 8 employees working at once, and there is nowhere else to sit down. So, I'm spending plenty of time on my feet.

My first, third, and fourth weeks of work have been/will be made up of 4 days, with about a 9.5-10 hour shift each day. My second week was 5 days, 7.5-8 hours each day. I am pretty sure I prefer the schedule of fewer/longer days. Once I've done the morning commute and am in the swing of things at the clinic, a couple extra hours of work in one day is hardly noticeable.

I'm coming home physically exhausted almost every day. Being a vet is mentally draining and requires a fair amount of physical activity. However, I'm pretty much acting as a vet tech at this point, which requires less mental awareness but a great deal more physical activity. My feet and legs hurt, and I'm exercising back and shoulder muscles that I'm pretty sure have not been asked to do anything for at least a year, since I was last working as a tech. The bad news is that I've pretty much spent the last 9-10 months sitting on my butt in the classroom. The good news is that I can now already tighten my belt buckle by one notch!

The other thing I forgot about working as a tech is how beat up you get. We're talking bruises, scrapes, scratches, punctures, bites, etc. etc. etc. I notice the bites and scratches when they occur, but usually don't find the bruises until I get home and change clothes. Thankfully everything heals pretty quickly, and I now have the added peace of mind from knowing that I'm fully vaccinated against rabies.

I am apparently not quite as tough as I used to be. For the last 3 semesters of my undergrad, I worked as a tech during the school year, anywhere between 25 and 40 hours a week. For 18 months, I worked at the clinic every Saturday that I didn't have another commitment. Sundays were sort of a day off, after we got home at 1 or 2 pm post-church and lunch. But now, having 2 days off in a row seems like the best thing ever to me. No idea how I routinely went weeks and weeks at a time with only partial Sundays as my time off. Working Saturdays is fine with me now because CLH is home from work every day anyways. The only bummer is that I don't get to listen to "Car Talk" and "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" so I have to go listen to them later on the NPR website.

Despite finding plenty to complain about re: work, I have to say it is totally awesome getting a regular paycheck again ($400 for the first week). The money is not spectacular and definitely wouldn't be enough to live on, but hey, I'll take what I can get. As an added plus, I found out when I got my first paycheck that I get paid an extra $1/hr on Saturdays and an extra $1.50/hr in the evenings (which I think is like after 6 or 6:30 pm). I'm working till 7:30 pm most days so I am cashing in on the evening pay.

I only got 2 sets of the required uniform - blue scrub pants and these horrible blue patterned scrub tops with gleeful cartoon children and frolicking puppies and kittens on them. I got a size small, but the top is huge and the pants were about 8 inches too long. I attempted my first ever solo hemming job on the pants, sans sewing machine, sans even basic sewing knowledge, and while the results are fairly ugly, it's just a hem and it hasn't come undone yet. It took me so long to hem the first pair of pants that I skipped the second pair and have been wearing my own pair of blue scrub pants along with the 2nd scrub top. It's sort of annoying to have to do laundry every 2 days, but I'll survive.

I would guess that 90-95% of the patients we see at the clinic are dogs. Probably closer to 95%. I've seen about 15 cats come through the clinic since I started, and probably a couple hundred dogs. It's very strange. But I like it! Dogs are usually way easier to work with and handle in a clinical setting than cats are. The average cat just gets overwhelmed and scared and flips out. Only the really, really nice, well-socialized cats do okay.

I'm learning some of the joys of working for a clinic run by a corporate management team that is never actually present at the clinic. Case in point: last week, with no warning, the regional hospital director showed up one afternoon and announced that the clinic now has to stay open until 7 pm instead of 6 pm on Saturdays. Whoop de doo! That will start a week from today.

This clinic has 100% computerized medical records, which is both cool and weird. It's nice because, for one thing, you don't have to try to decipher handwriting. Everything gets relatively standardized and the records are very complete. You don't have to worry about losing a paper chart, and you can look at a patient's record from any of several computer monitors. It's a little weird for me because I'm used to working with paper charts, and I like to write things down on paper. That mostly just means that I have to remember to put my paper notes into the computer notes section. Which I sometimes but not always remember to do. I'm not 100% convinced I like this particular computer system, but there are several different commonly used veterinary software programs.

One of the regular vets at the clinic graduated about 3 years ago. She's cleaning out her old unwanted textbooks (which are all pretty recent editions) and giving to me for a couple bucks per book. Not sure which of them I'll need in the future, but they'll be nice to have for such a cheap price.

So that's what's going on in my vet school-related life right now. Turns out that while you're on summer break from school, there's not that much school-related info to blog about! Go figure. But I'll try to keep up w/occasional posts for the rest of the summer until we get back into the swing of things in August.

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