Sitting in the reception area and waiting is often boring, minutes seem like hours as you watch people go in and out of that front door. The waiting can get painful if the chairs are uncomfortable. What are they doing? Eating lunch, texting their friends, cruising Facebook, getting a tan??
I have asked myself this question many times as I sit in the waiting room of my dentist's or doctor's office for what seems like hours with no explanation from anyone as to what is going on “in the back”. What is taking so long?? These appointments are usually made weeks or months in advance. Why am I waiting?
I heard a client say this exact thing yesterday as I was hustling around the office trying to keep my head above water with the volume of patients, clients, paperwork, phone calls and emergencies. It made me think that we should communicate better and explain to everyone what can, and is, going on behind the scenes. As far as they know we are just sitting around drinking coffee and eating donuts.
I get it. You don't like to wait and neither do I. Here is what is sometimes going on behind the scenes at a busy veterinary hospital that could cause you to have to wait.
We book our clients in blocks of 20, 40 or 60 minutes depending on the issue that they are having. Most of our clients call far in advance, but many call the same day if the pet has an emergent issue. Often times our receptionists are forced to ‘squeeze’ patients into an already crammed schedule in order to get the suffering pet some help and take care of our loyal clients. The appointments are often made to adjust to a client's work schedule and availability.
When the clients and patients get into the office they may need tests run or treatments performed, so we try to get the blood work running or cytology going or x-rays taken while you wait. Unlike human doctors offices, we run many of our own blood tests, and take the radiographs ourselves. Sometimes the technicians have several pets waiting for x-rays at the same time, so they have to take them in the order in which they came. Also, the technicians have their own appointments to see and they have to get to them in between all the tasks that they are performing for the doctors. The doctors have phone calls to make and records to write up, which are often done after hours. We don’t want to make excuses for having you wait more than a reasonable amount of time, but it helps to understand the inner workings of the veterinary hospital to help understand why we are sometimes delayed.
I hope that you never have to wait for more than 5-10 minutes the next time you have an appointment, but if you are waiting a bit longer than expected, ask the receptionist to give you a heads up as to what is going on, and please know that we are not sitting around with our feet up. We really are trying to do our best work for you and your pets.
Dr Julie Cappel