The Common Sense Factor

13 May

Penelope. The greatest Golden-doodle I have ever encountered. Photo has nothing to do with this post.

I’m proud to have risen in the ranks at the clinic I work at. It took a long time to be trusted and respected as a good technician. I’m at the point where I function as the head technician on the weekends. About a month ago, we had a position open up. My manager (the true head technician) asked me my opinion on the different interviewees he had. I pushed hard for him to hire a young guy with little experience. On his working interview he showed up early, asked all the right questions, and was fearless in dealing with a cranky cat. My manager chose to hire another applicant instead, a veterinarian from another country who had more experience.

My manager and I debated back and forth about it. His decision came down to the fact that she had more experience and had high education credentials. I am not a manager, so there is not much I could do about his decision. All I could tell him was, “I just worry about the common sense factor.”

Common sense is a simple way of putting it. While most of the world thinks my job is snuggling with adorable animals, it takes a lot more than that. My job can be life and death. Making a small mistake could kill an innocent animal or lead to me or my co-workers being bitten or scratched. We don’t have room for someone who can’t think critically for themselves. A month into training my new co-worker, I find myself being cornered by doctors and other technicians complaining about her. I don’t know what else to do about it. I can teach someone to hold. I can teach someone to operate equipment, to draw blood, to run anesthesia, to perform a dental. But I can’t instill common sense.

It’s been frustrating dealing with someone who takes out their phone to text in the middle of a procedure, who still can’t work the microscope, who isn’t sure how to work the telephone. But those are minor complains compared to the possible disasters that could befall someone who doesn’t think things through.

Last week, we sent her to the reception area to get a dog who had come in on appointment. She was to bring it to the back to be looked over by the doctor. She didn’t look at the chart. She didn’t approach the dog slowly to observe its reaction. All she did was see a cute dachshund and grab it with one hand. The dog snapped at her hand which was not holding him securely, and the dog went tumbling to the ground, falling on its back. The dog wasn’t injured, but the client was furious. The new co-worker complained to me that it tried to bite her, that she didn’t know. I asked her how she didn’t notice the giant “Be Careful” written on the chart, and how she thought the dog would like being carried like a teddy bear.

The job of a veterinary technician requires a lot of thought. I don’t care if she’s book smart or went to a fancy university overseas. Give me that kid from the Bronx with only a high school education who knew how to safely and securely handle a stressed-out, hissing cat. The kid who stayed calm and held that scruff, asked the doctor if he should do something else, who watched the animal carefully to make sure the exam proceeded safely. I could have taught him the blood machine, and the EKG machine. But for the life of me, I can’t teach this woman I’m stuck with common sense.


2 Responses to “The Common Sense Factor”

  1. Kremchi September 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Hi, I read your story. I am a vet from foreign country and I work as a vet tech. I may say, one of the best in my hospital. Yes, indeed common sense is hard to teach people, no meter their age, education or social status. I struggle daily with the same issue as you. Good luck in your mission, but don’t judge people by their ethnicity.


  1. Week 5 – Entry 2 – Sarah's Blog - October 2, 2017

    […] The Common Sense Factor […]

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