Getting The Client To Commit, otherwise known as “This is going to cost how much?!”
One of the technician’s most dreaded questions when admitting a patient into the hospital for any type of procedure has to be “How much is this going to cost?” second only to “Is he/she going to make it?”. There is no getting around the fact that medical care for a pet, especially a sick one, can cost a great deal of money even with pet insurance. That being said, the care you will be providing is definitely worth it! These owners should be reassured that you will personally do everything within your power to make sure their beloved family member is in the best hands.
Many times you will be looking at a poor dog or cat with a tremendously swollen cheek with a hole in it and the owner is questioning whether or not that tooth should really come out. Really? In cases like this, where the animal is in a distinct and obvious amount of pain, try to equate the pet’s pain with the owner. If they showed up at the dentist office with a tooth root abscess and a hole in their cheek they would be whisked away for emergency dental care due to the excruciating pain they were in. If they happen to have children you could pose this question, “If this was your child wouldn’t you be at the doctor’s right now?” Now of course this is a somewhat underhanded tactic, but pain relief is very high on the technician’s totem pole. We hate to see an animal suffering in pain, so if asking those kinds of questions gets them in the door for the relief they deserve, so be it.
Some people think of their pet as just that, a pet. They will question every item on the estimate to the penny, which is their absolute right. Try to be patient with them, the end goal is to get that animal the care it needs and if you ruffle someone’s feathers they may walk out or refuse care which is not what you want to happen. Other people relate to their pet as their baby, a member of the family, an integral part of their lives. Often times they will say “Whatever it costs I don’t care just fix my baby!” While this is a welcome sentiment do not be overly confident that they will actually pay for everything. Go over every item to be sure, sometimes they don’t realize how much “whatever” can cost which can cause a huge problem when all is said and done. Alternatively some people really want to do everything they can for their pet but simply cannot afford it for any number of reasons. If it is an option at your hospital, reach out to your employer and see if help can be offered through either a payment plan, or some sort of discount. If all else fails you can certainly give them information on the local animal organizations that may be able to assist them in paying for their animal’s care. Some organizations will pay for extremely needed surgeries or will pay a percentage of the patient’s medical care.
Always be willing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes as difficult as it can be, and try not to make assumptions regarding someone else’s financial situation or choices for their pet. I know it can be extraordinarily frustrating to be grilled over every dollar on an estimate for a $5,000 “pure-bred” creature. Especially when the owner can barely lift their left hand due to the planet-sized diamond hanging off it and you are still wearing scrubs from…what year was that again? Don’t fret too much; one day of your work is probably much cooler than theirs, hopefully!