I was employed as a veterinary assistant/technician for about a year and a half at Banfield. I'd just like to say a bit about my experiences and my general perception of the company.
I was repeatedly verbally abused and financially taken advantage of by the hospital manager and her lead henchman (aka - lead Pet Nurse). Despite my horrible experiences, I'll be the first to admit that not ALL Banfield Pet Hospitals are bad. There are quality doctors, knowledgeable technicians, and caring hospital managers. This is not everywhere. The problem is a lack of consistency throughout the chain. Some locations are great, others are abysmal. It seems that the chain has become too big for corporate to regulate the quality of care at all the hospitals.
I was hired at a Banfield with 9 months of experience under my belt and a Bachelor's degree (which was supposed to get me an extra $1/hr). Despite this, I was hired for minimum wage. The hospital manager ignored the fact that I had a degree. I was hired as a "Pet Nurse Assistant." According to my job description, I was supposed to do menial tasks such as cleaning, laundry, animal restraint, and running labwork. Instead, I was doing ALL the duties of a regular PetNurse (not an assistant), with the exception that I did not monitor surgeries. I drove 45 minutes to and from work every day for minimum wage. I did this because I wanted to get into vet school and needed the experience. My manager knew this and repeatedly exploited me because she knew I wouldn't quit.
After me working for the company for about a year, they hired a new employee who had ZERO animal experience. The manager made her a name tag that said, "Pet Nurse Assistant" but really hired her as a "PetNurse" for $2 more an hour than I was getting paid. The manager told her not to tell me her real job title or wage, but she did because she saw I was being taken advantage of. So lets get this straight: I came in with a Bachelor's degree, 9 months of experience assisting, and I get hired for minimum wage. Another girl comes in, no experience, a high school diploma, and gets hired for $2 more an hour? Why? Because she was a single mother, like the hospital manager, and she identified with her. She wasn't trained on surgical monitoring either (the reason the hospital manager claimed I couldn't be promoted to a PetNurse), yet her title was PetNurse. Make any sense?
When they started training me on surgical monitoring, the hospital manager lagged for 2 months in getting me my raise. She claimed that the only reason I had not been promoted from a PetNurse Assistant to a PetNurse was because I didn't monitor surgeries. This, however, was NOT stated in the job description. It was just her excuse to not give me a raise. Even after I got trained, it took her 2 months to submit the paperwork to get me my raise. She kept claiming that she "was going to do it" but never followed through.
This was not the only grievance I had. The manager forced our lead PetNurse (who was a Registered Veterinary Technician) to transfer to another hospital because she didn't want to pay her extra (RVTs make an automatic $2 more an hour at Banfield) and transferred an UNREGISTERED technician to our hospital to take over the position as lead PetNurse. Yes, our hospital was operating without a single RVT. Not one. This unregistered technician was a nightmare. She would actually follow you around, 2 steps behind you, barking orders at you and telling you everything you were doing wrong. She would disagree with everything you did. Our hospital was overbooked and understaffed and we often ran behind. She would scream at you if you ran things in an order she did not agree with, but would change her mind the very next day in terms of what order things SHOULD be running it. It was always impossible to judge what she would deem appropriate. She would also talk down to you and embarrass you in front of coworkers. I had to pull her aside and tell her, "If you have a problem with my performance, you need to speak to me privately and not belittle me in front of coworkers." I told her this multiple times, yet she never did it. She would actually belittle people and say things like, "why would you do it that way? Tell me WHY? What were you thinking?" And then talk shi+ about them behind their backs. I told her multiple times this was unprofessional. She even made a doctor (A DOCTOR!) cry by getting in her face and belittling her in front of everyone.
After months of this abuse, the hospital manger got wind that everyone was unhappy and wanted to transfer hospitals. Banfield has a rule that if you are written up, you are forbidden to transfer for 6 months. Therefore, everyone got written up at once. I got written up for something that happened months ago, and was told if I didn't sign it I would be suspended. She distorted the facts and lied about my performance, but I was forced to sign it. Basically, I was written up for not completing 9 comprehensive exams (which include bloodwork, fecal testing, as well as a thorough exam and entering in all the information in the medical record) in 2 hours. I was the only PetNurse there for those 2 hours, we had one receptionist working, and the doctor was in surgery. So tell me, how am I supposed to draw blood on a squirming animal by myself? Another girl got written up for "being rude" in a staff meeting. The manager claimed that she had made "rude comments and had interrupted" during our hospital meeting. When the employee questioned the manager as she could not remember this happening, the manager said, "I don't remember what you said, but I remember you did." Funny, not ONE person at that meeting remembered this happening. She just wrote her up to prevent her from transferring. I felt bad for the poor girl. She had just been attacked by a dog and had reconstructive SURGERY ON HER FACE a few days before. She had stitches on her lips and was on pain medication, but came to the meeting to be a team player, and then was written up for a comment that no one could remember her making. Wow.
Other things happened as well. The hospital manager never got our schedule out on time. She repeatedly gave it to us Saturday night for the week starting the next day (Sunday). One time, she gave us our schedule at 8pm on Saturday night for the following Sunday. Imagine being told at 8pm on Saturday that you had to be at work at 7am the next day. She frequently did this. None of us could ever make plans or do anything with our lives due to her ineptitude in getting the schedule out on time.
She also altered our time punches. If a hospital accrues overtime hours, it counts negatively towards that hospital and the manager gets less of a bonus. So if you went overtime, she would adjust the hours so that they appeared on a day you weren't working. None of us ever got 40 hours a week, so as long as she shuffled the hours around, she would avoid overtime. She would tell us that she calculated our overtime hours so that we would still get paid the same (so if we worked 1 overtime hour, 1.5 hours would show up on another day), but I'm not sure if she did.
The manager was late every single day. Not by minutes, but by hours. She wouldn't even call to let us know. People would ask to speak to the manager, and we wouldn't ever have any idea when she would show up. She probably worked about 60% of the hours she was scheduled for. She then gave other people her work to do because "she didn't have enough hours in the day." Well, maybe you would if you showed up to work on time.
Her lead henchman, the lead PetNurse would frequently forget her shifts and not show up, leading us to be so far behind. She wouldn't answer her phone when we called to ask where she was.
There were also gaps in the quality of care. Banfield has an anesthesia protocol which is supposed to be followed. It states that when an animal is under anesthesia, there should ALWAYS be 2 people present - one to monitor and one to perform the procedure. However, I was frequently left all alone when performing anesthetic dental cleanings. I was supposed to monitor and clean at the same time. Under normal circumstances, this is doable (although not the best practice). One time, a pet could have died because of it. I was left all alone in the room with the pet under anesthesia. Its vitals started to drop, and I took appropriate measures to correct this. However, the animal was not responding. The doctor was in an appointment room (which was down the hallway), and the receptionist was up front, and the other PetNurse was also in an exam room. I had 2 choices: either YELL for help and hope someone heard me, or run to the exam room to grab the doctor and leave the pet unattended. No one was even in the room to go get the doctor for me. I ended up running to the exam room to grab the doctor since he was in the last exam room down the hallway and probably would not have heard me if I had yelled. The pet was ok, but this is the kind of thing that happens when you leave an unregistered assistant alone with an animal under anesthesia.
There were other things, but this post is long enough. I should have reported the situation to the field leaders when I was working, but I was so afraid of getting fired that I didn't. I NEEDED letters of recommendation from the doctors (who were GOOD doctors), so I had to just try my best and endure it. Getting into vet school meant everything to me, so I sucked it up until I found a job at a better clinic (who paid more and actually staffed appropriately).
I just want to take a minute to defend the doctors that work at Banfield. They aren't all good, and they aren't all bad. Just because a vet works at Banfield doesn't mean they weren't good enough to get hired elsewhere. It's a sad, scary state that veterinarians are entering into. Our interest rates for student loans DOUBLED this year, and Stafford loans were abolished. That means our loans do not start accruing interest after graduation, but the second we take them out. As students, we are in school for about 8 hours a day, then study the rest of the day. We have no time to get a job, and even if we did, it wouldn't make a dent in our tuition. I'm a 1st year, and will probably end up with $250,000 in debt by the time I graduate. I'm an in-state student, too. The out of state students pay even more. With $250,000 in debt, I'll probably never own my own practice. It will take me forever to pay that off. In the past, graduating vets have worked at various practices, and some have saved money along the way to open up new practices or buy practices from retiring vets. This may not be the case anymore. Private practices may dwindle as vets can no longer afford to buy practices. In addition, the job market is bad. Graduating vets often have a VERY hard time finding a job and are unemployed for a long time. Thus, even the brilliant vets may end up working in corporate chains such as Banfield. It's sad, but that's the way it is. Most of us love veterinary medicine so much that we deal with the crippling debt, poor job outlook, and the possible fate of working for corporate America. So although quality control at Banfield is inconsistent, not everyone or every location is bad.
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet Medical Service.
Monetary Loss: $1000.