Taking your pet to the vet can be an intimidating experience. It’s a place you go to spend money, and sometimes get bad news. But ultimately, we should reframe the way we think of the veterinarian’s office. These professionals study for years to become advocates for your pet’s health and wellbeing. Among the staff you’ll find people who love animals, science, and a passion for trying to make your experience as easy as possible. They are there to keep your pets safe and happy, and live long and fruitful lives. This is accomplished through the preventative care and diagnostics that they recommend.
Let’s pull back the veil at what goes on inside a veterinary practice to get rid of the mystery. Keep in mind that some of the specialized rooms are not within every practice, such as the lab or x-ray room, and these less-common services are outsourced.
We’re all used to sitting in those less-than-comfortable chairs while waiting for our turn to be seen. But a fair amount of design actually has to go into them. One of the biggest considerations is arranging the lobby in such a way that pets don’t come suddenly face-to-face with each other, which can startle them and cause a conflict. This is done by keeping the seats distanced from doors and hallways so that pets are kept an appropriate distance and those coming and going can move through easily.
Do keep in mind that the staff is doing their best to avoid long wait times. Sometimes an appointment before yours may run longer due to a complicated condition, or an emergency. There’s a phrase among vet staff that goes “You don’t want to be the priority”, which would indicate that your pet may be in poor health.
Here you’ll also meet the reception staff. They have a surprisingly stressful job, and deal with a lot of cranky or upset people who can take it out on them. However, you’ll also find that they are typically willing to go far in exchange for a little kindness. They’ll help you out with checking out, scheduling your rechecks, and sometimes aiding with completing pet insurance documents.
The Exam Room
Depending on the size of the practice, there may be one or more exam rooms. Within you’ll find a table, some chairs, a computer for charting, and some simple diagnostic tools. These include stethoscopes, an otoscope to see inside the ear, swabs to collect samples, or tongue depressors to get a better look.
These rooms are often designed to be as comfortable as possible for the pets and may include a feliway diffuser to help keep cats calm. There will likely be a veterinary technician that will join the doctor as you meet in this room. Their job will be to help note important details, prepare medications the doctor may recommend, and to help hold your pet still during the physical examination.
The Treatment Room
This room is larger and different than the exam room. Oftentimes it is only the medical staff that comes into this room. This is where you will find more advanced diagnostic tools, such as a microscope, the tools to draw blood, and surgical tools for simple procedures. This is frequently where they will perform things like spay and neuter procedures, dental cleanings, or other treatments where it is not recommended that the owner be present.
Remember that your pet is safe and in good hands back here. The reason for doing things like drawing blood and taking samples is done in a discreet room away from you is because they require focus to perform and sometimes the nervousness from the owners can rub off onto the pets. Undoubtedly, your precious pet is getting a lot of affection and praise for their bravery.
The Doctor’s Office
This is the doctor’s sanctuary. Usually they’re not too luxurious, and are frequently shared with other doctors in the practice or a practice manager. They’ll have access to the computer charting system and the creature comforts they might need to relax between cases. Their job can be quite emotionally taxing, and it’s important for them to take a moment to breathe and clear their head between difficult cases.
You might also find a selection of books ranging from drugs to uncommon diseases, such as exotic funguses and parasites.
Now that you’ve had a chance to understand the function and flow of a veterinary office and how they operate on the inside, hopefully the stress and worry has melted away. They strive to make the process as easy and safe as possible in everything that they do. You can act in confidence that they will treat your pet as well as they would treat theirs, because the bond between practitioner and patient runs deeper than you may know.