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PLEASE NOTE that our business hours have recently changed. We are open Monday through Saturday each week. We are closed on Sundays and six major holidays.
This job is probably quite unlike any job you have had as a veterinarian. I think it would most appeal to vets who have spent several years (probably at least 4-5 years) in a traditional clinic setting that are searching for something more fulfilling. For some of us, going in and out of the same two square rooms all day can be, frankly, a bit tiresome. At some point, you start to wonder: “Is this all there is to practicing as a vet?” Perhaps you are frustrated with the routine of it all, or you feel like you would like to be able to give animals and their owners more of your time.
This job allows you to “think outside the box” and flex your creative problem solving muscles. The variety of locations that you will go to – from beautiful mansions to some very humble apartments- keeps things interesting. In the home, you are able to develop more relaxed and intimate relationships with the owners (we have truly great clients – anyone who cares enough about the stress level of their pet enough to pay extra is already ahead of the “average” pet owner).
This job is all about taking care of the dog or cat (no exotics) within their family unit. You become part of the animal’s caregiving team and partner with the family and the other caregivers (often our patients have an array of specialists and/or alternative medicine providers on their team as well). We see a lot of geriatric animals and do a lot of hospice work. Often times this means that you have to empathize with the family to help them achieve the goals they have for the remaining months of their companion’s life. They may or may not want aggressive diagnostics. Pain control is paramount. You need to be comfortable looking at each situation as unique and be okay with doing things a little differently for each family, if the situation warrants that. For the right person, the challenges of hospice work keep it interesting. The deep relationships you can develop are very rewarding.
We are looking for a doctor (or doctors) who may be looking for something a little different – someone who has an open mind, excellent internal medical skills, and an interest in analgesia, palliative care and geriatrics. If you love taking a broken down, anorexic, elderly old cat on the brink of death to a place where they are happy, eating and doing all the stuff they used to do, this job may be for you. If you love nothing more than figuring out a plan for an ancient dog who can barely walk to be able to go for short hikes with his owner again, this job may be for you. If you are comfortable hugging people you just met, this job may be for you!
What we are hoping for is that someone who is currently doing relief work or working part time will magically appear who is dying to see if there is something out there that is more fulfilling than what they have already experienced.
We plan to offer multiple shifts over the fall, and then, if it is something you really enjoy, and if our clients and our staff enjoy working with you, then we’d make it into a part time position. The chance that this may develop into a full time position within the next year is very high. We are growing quickly and expanding our offered services all the time.
We are not just looking for any relief vet who is willing to do some work – we are looking for someone for whom this sounds intriguing and who might be interested in this job in particular.
Whether or not it will turn out to be something you love, remains to be seen. Dr. Dillon and Dr. Posey, and myself, are all passionate about doing house calls and can’t imagine practicing any other way now. Other vets have not enjoyed it as much, or find the lack of predictability challenging. You won’t know unless you try it.
Please note that some of the shifts we will be looking to fill will be some Sundays and Saturdays (you wouldn’t be working every weekend). Also, the days can be unpredictably long occasionally.
We won’t be asking for a formal resume, but I would love to have you write me an email saying why you think this might be a good fit for you. Then we can have a phone conversation and maybe meet for coffee. My email is [email protected].
AHVS provides exceptional, personal and compassionate in-home veterinary care for dogs and cats through all of their life stages; we honor and nurture the human-animal bond and enhance the quality of life of pets and their owners.
For the right person, this will probably be the best job you’ve ever had as a vet. It is truly the way that many of us envisioned practicing veterinary medicine would be…..before we faced the realities of a busy practice where it sometimes feels like a factory, or an endless stream of people coming into your little room that you never feel you can give the time and attention to that they deserve. You are able to give your undivided attention to the animal and owner in front of you. You are able to see what is really going on in the home that is preventing the animal from getting what it needs. You are able to pull out all your compassion and in turn be inspired by the beauty of what these animals and people mean to each other.
At Home Veterinary Services is a rapidly growing small animal, house call practice serving the Portland Metro area. The practice was created in 2008 by Louise Mesher, DVM and her husband, Ryan DesJardins, who is the practice manager. We are also lucky to have Dr. Heather Dillon and Dr. Tisha Posey working with us full time.
In addition to our veterinarians and practice manager, we have three full time CVTs, a veterinary assistant, and a full time client care representative (who actually lives and works from New York - she had been an assistant for us here before getting married and moving). We will probably be adding some additional assistants and a receptionist in the near future as well.
The practice began as a home-based, single vet practice, providing part-time house calls, but since 2010, it has grown to a full-time, multi-vet practice operating out of our current office and warehouse facility in Lake Oswego, just a couple minutes off I5.
We see patients 7-days a week. Three days per week, we have two teams on duty (each team is one doctor and one technician). The other four days we have one team. We would like to have two vet available each day, and perhaps as many as three, eventually. Most of our clients are within the core Portland metro area, but we occasionally go as far south as Salem, as far west as Forrest Grove, and as far east as Corbett. At this point we are not licensed in Washington so we do not go across the river.
In the morning, the technicians and client service coordinator check and return messages and try to finalize the schedule for the day. Typically, one tech will restock the bags and supplies and load the vehicle, and that same tech will be driving the van and accompanying the DVM into appointments. The vehicle we use is currently a minivan, but we plan to acquire a larger commercial van in the near future.
At approximately 9:30 am, we’ll leave the office on the way to see the first appointment around 10am-ish. We try to book appointments that are close together geographically on the same day, if possible. Appointment lengths vary depending on the nature of the appointment – we see sick animals, annual exam appointments, quality of life consultations, hospice appointments, and euthanasia appointments. We do not do any dentistry or surgery, but we may administer light sedation, if necessary, for restraint or comfort of the animal.
We perform a lot of bloodwork, FNAs, ear cytologies, etc. For patients that need radiographs or anesthetic procedures, we refer them to other excellent vets in the area. We also have the option of having an Internist meet us at a pet’s home to perform in-home ultrasound examinations, which we utilize relatively often. Many of our patients are referred to local specialists as recommended.
We have electronic medical records, and often the DVMs will type up their records while in the car on the way to the next appointment. We are almost entirely paperless. We have mobile Internet access and commonly use email to communicate with our clients, each other, and to fax records and prescriptions.
We have an adequate pharmacy of antibiotics and other medications, but are well stocked with a variety of analgesics, sedatives, and narcotics. We have an Internet pharmacy, Vetsource, that some clients use to order chronically used medication.
Usually we will make 4 to 6 house calls a day depending on how involved they are and how many animals we see at each appointment. Multiple animal appointments are common.
Most of the time we are done for the day and return to the office between 6:00 and 6:30, depending on traffic. The techs unload the vehicle and wrap up any other outstanding business for the end of the day. The DVMs often have medical records to finish, or emails or phone calls to work on. Sometimes – depending on how the day went – the DVM will have an hour (or even longer) of paperwork or client communication to deal with. This can create some long work days. Fridays are usually our longest and busiest days, and we schedule appointments a little later in the day on Fridays as well (our last appointment may be at 6 or 6:30 even).
We have really amazing, devoted clients. Most of them are young to middle aged professionals who like the convenience of having us come to their house, and like the fact that they get personal and thorough care. We have a few elderly clients and a few disabled clients, but perhaps not as many as many people expect. Pretty much all of our clients are great owners – very dedicated and compassionate. They make it a pleasure to visit them. For the most part, their biggest concern is not how much a treatment costs but rather how it will affect their pet’s overall quality of life.
Generally speaking, about 50% of our appointments are with patients who are geriatric, have chronic or terminal illness, or are in hospice care. About 25% of our visits are with younger/middle-aged pets, and 25% are in-home euthanasia visits. It varies from week to week, but that is the general break down of our visits and patients.
We see disproportionately more geriatric patients than an average brick and mortar practice. Generally these patients are animals that the owners have difficulty getting into a vehicle or that the owners worry about exposing to the stress or potential infectious disease risks of a clinic. We see many animals that are palliative, and a growing number of animals whose owners are interested in help determining what their pet’s quality of life might be.
We also see a higher percentage of cats than a traditional clinic (about 65% of our patients are cats). For obvious reasons, clients love the fact they do not have to load their cat into a carrier and transport them to a clinic. While we do still encounter cats who are fractious and hard to handle (sometimes requiring chemical restraint), often seeing cats in their home environment caries a much lower stress level for them, their owner and the care providers than in a clinic. Similar situations may also arise with fractious dogs, but it is not as common.
We do a fair number of euthanasia appointments – sometimes several per week. Some of those euthanasia patients are pets we’ve seen before, but we do see a few each week who we have never seen before. Euthanasia requests are pre-screened by a client care representative and occasionally by a technician or DVM prior to scheduling. We do not perform “convenience” euthanasia.
Occasionally we expect to euthanize an animal and show up only to find that the pet has an ailment that is simple to treat, and we usually treat those conditions, or, if the owner refuses, then we elect to not euthanize. This doesn’t happen often due to the sometimes lengthy conversations the owners have had with our client care representative, technician or doctor before our arrival.
We are looking for someone with several years’ experience, minimum. The ideal candidate should have a passion for helping geriatric pets and their people enjoy their lives together in the best way possible. There is a heavy emphasis on client communication and education. We try to be thorough, compassionate, personable and efficient. We extend ourselves to give good client service and personal attention, and the successful candidate will enjoy developing these relationships with these exceptional owners.
We are looking for someone who enjoys creative problem solving and is okay with the occasional curve ball. The days are rarely boring, and the continued change of scenery is interesting. The environment is sometimes challenging with respect to lighting, examination surfaces etc. but most of the time it is workable – but we need someone who has a flexible, easy going nature.
As mentioned above, surgical skills and dentistry skills are not important, but good internal medicine skills and a warm, compassionate bedside manner are of utmost importance. We need someone who is thorough, and explains all the options to the owners. We have very educated, involved owners who are often willing to do a greater degree of nursing care than many owners would be. We support them in any way we can.
You will need to have a good sense of humor – both to get along with our wonderful staff and to appreciate the strange and funny things you will sometimes see. Good stories are to be had here!
For the right person, this position is unlikely to be boring. Dr. Mesher, who enjoyed the variety and challenge of cases as a staff vet at Dove Lewis Emergency for 3 years, is never bored with house calls. Though there are far fewer emergencies and there isn’t the thrill of surgery, there is plenty of variety in the day – partly from the medicine and partly from the places and situations you’ll find yourself in.
We also strive to involve the staff in some of the decision making, and welcome input particularly with regard to the development of new programs or offering new services. We are particularly interested in new ideas about pain management, hospice services, rehab services, complimentary therapies such as laser and acupuncture and anything that can improve the quality of life of our patients and clients. We like to try new things and get creative in our offerings and operations!
We are confident that for the right candidate, this will be a rewarding, fun, interesting position. We wrote this extensive description because we knew that many DVMs have never done house calls before, and we wanted you to be able to imagine your day.
If, after all this, you are still interested, please email at [email protected] to begin the discussion.
Portland | Lake Oswego | West Linn | Beaverton | Tigard | Tualatin | Sherwood | Wilsonville | Oregon City | Happy Valley | Milwaukie | Gladstone
Other surrounding communities are also served in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties
We're sorry, we do not currently provide service in the State of Washington
Louise Mesher, DVM - Owner
Ryan DesJardins - Manager
Website design by LegUp Creative
Mobile Pet Services, LLC
dba At Home Veterinary Services
5775 Jean Rd. Ste 105
Lake Oswego, OR 97035