Saturday was one of those days that reminded me of how fortunate and blessed I am to live the life I do. I know I have the love and support of my family, the respect and dedication from our team, and the trust and loyalty from our clients but it is not often that all three come together like a glorious colorful painting in front of my eyes.
Even though our clinic closes at 5 pm on Saturday, our last client did not leave with her pet until after 7:30 pm. Our staff did not lock the clinic doors until almost 8 pm. Nevertheless, worried or tired, everyone left with a satisfied smile.
The Family Vet is a very small practice comprising of myself, Dr. T-na Tran, and our three assistants, Elias, Elisabeth, and John. We see patients by appointments only and weekends tend to fill up ahead of time. But as we all know, pets do not get sick on schedule. When a client calls with a sick pet, we try to work our schedule so that we can care for as many as we are able without significantly compromising the quality of our services. When we do not have any open appointments or if the openings are not acceptable to the clients, we offer to have them leave the pets with us for the day. We tend to these day-stay patients in between our scheduled appointments and contact the clients to discuss the care and treatment as needed. The length of the day stay varies with the day’s appointment and whether scheduled appointments are on time or if any are cancelled/rescheduled. Some stays are 3-4 hours but most stay the whole day, or past closing time, if we have a full schedule.
Some of our clients have known us for almost 20 years and have no qualms about leaving their companions with us. But for the newer clients, it is asking a lot of them to leave their pets with us for the day ---whether it is the stress to the geriatric cat who has never been away from home except for the vet visits or the hyper barking puppy that may not quiet down regardless of our various tricks. Yet, they would leave their pets in our care if we asked them because they know that we would encourage them to go elsewhere (e.g. another local practice or the emergency clinic) if that was better for their loved ones.
In many ways, the clients who do not get upset at us but, on our recommendation, take their pets either to the emergency clinic or another local practice show even more trust in us. They trust that we would gladly see them if we could safely do so. They trust that we know their pets well enough to know when it would be better for the pets to be seen elsewhere. They trust that the health and well-being of their pets are of the highest importance to us and we would find ways to help their pets even if it means sending “business” elsewhere.
This trust is priceless. I am forever grateful that we were able to cultivate that rapport with our clients over the years. We strive to build on that trust and safeguard it whenever possible. It is to that end that we intermittently stop accepting new clients to our practice. We want to be able to be there for the current clients and patients in our care. Limiting the influx of new clients allow our small team to provide quality personal care for our current patients. Even though clients may not like going elsewhere when we recommend that option, they know it would be better for their pets. They understand that we have done what we could to improve our availability to our current patients, even if it meant going against business advisors by not accepting new clients.
Not only am I fortunate to have that trust and support from our clients, I am also blessed to have a team of awesome compassionate people who share my vision and work just as hard as I do to deliver the type of care to our patients that we would want for our own families. I am not unaware of how difficult it can be to work in a practice where team members are asked to go the extra miles for the sake of client and patient care, not for bonus points or revenue incentives. Somehow we managed to keep a core team of dedicated professionals who see The Family Vet not as just a workplace but also as a second family. We would not be able to provide the personal care that we do here at The Family Vet without the skills and commitment from Elias, Elisabeth and John. Thank you, guys!
Speaking of second family, there would be no such thing if I did not have the most understanding and supportive “first” family. On this particular Saturday, my family was out celebrating the Lunar New Year at the festivals in Orange County. As with so many family outings over the years, I missed it as we did not finish at the clinic until way late. Other than being worried that I was working too much, my family had always loved and supported me in my chosen profession. They may tease that I spend more time with my second family than with my real family but, ultimately, they would do what they could to help me – whether it is my mother caring for the beautiful orchids or my brother-in-law’s computer tips.
And that is how, on this St. Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of how much love and caring there may be in our lives. We just have to look past the traditional romantic love to appreciate the many other types of love that fill our lives. Without a doubt, my life is better for being on the receiving end of the love, trust, respect, support, and loyalty from my family, our clients, and our team here at The Family Vet.
And of course, I cannot forget Sully and our birthday girl, Elaine.
Thank you all. Hope your Valentine’s Day was as you had hoped it to be.
T-na Tran, DVM