Standards of Care and Process in Your Veterinary Hospital

By: Leather Brice

In most conversations I’ve had with practice owners in the past year I’ve heard their biggest concern is staffing. We need people! We need associates and kennel techs and registered techs…every hospital is hiring and every hospital is experiencing the stress and frustrations from being short staffed. How can we take this negative and make it a positive? Are we looking at what might set new hires up for success and increase the longevity of veterinary professionals in our practices while on the search for these illusive creatures? Start with what we CAN control and that is the here and now in our hospitals.

Creating, Implementing and Training Standards of Care and Process can not only set your new hires up with expectations and provide amazing care for your client’s pets but also align your current team. Three key benefits of implementing Standards of Care in your Veterinary hospital are consistency, improved efficiency, and training.

Start by reviewing wellness and illness topics. Hold a meeting with the doctors. Divide up the top 20% wellness and illness topics. Assign each doctor 2-4 diagnosis for which you want to bring industry standards into your practice. Set a due date for when research needs to be completed.

Next, schedule an offsite meeting. During this meeting, each doctor will share their findings. Discussion about these findings will ensue, and a consensus should be reached regarding standard of care. A protocol for the practice will be created and then finalized.

Getting to Yes: The Art of Value Communication

By: Rachel Teichberg, CVPM

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that communication is a fundamental skill for each role in the practice, allowing teams to operate cohesively and efficiently. Communication is also at the core of how we work with our clients, ideally creating an environment of trust and understanding. Working with hundreds of practices over the last four years has taught me that we don’t spend enough time focused on the communication training that creates that desired trust and understanding from our clients. I get it. We’re always short on time and people, and sometimes it’s a miracle we make it through the day. This, however, is mission critical. If your goal is to provide excellent patient care, we have to start with communication.

Clients come to our practices because we’re the experts. Unfortunately, with that comes a curse of knowledge on our part. We often take for granted all the information we know, which can create a barrier when we try to communicate value of care. We simply forget how much of the things we need to communicate are not common knowledge. When we improperly explain our services or products, clients struggle to see the benefit it would provide their pet (aka it’s value).

Feedback and Coaching and Conflict, Oh My!

Navigating the Difficult Conversation Trifecta
By: Rachel Teichberg, CVPM

I’ve watched this scene a thousand times… Dorothy and the gang anxiously making their way through the forest chanting “lions, and tigers and bears, oh my!” As they quickly skip their way along the yellow brick road, they eventually meet their lion. In practice, you come face to face with a lion daily, except yours is in the shape of difficult conversations.

All day long you have conversations with your coworkers. You chit-chat about the weekend, discuss plans for the day, ask for help with lab work, direct someone to pick up line three, follow up on those retirement party plans, and debrief about cases. All of this conversation flows seamlessly until you have a critique, a suggestion, or a problem. Just like that, communication comes to a grinding halt as you try to avoid having what you believe will be an awkward or emotional conversation.

Each time you avoid feedback, coaching, and conflict conversations you may feel like you’ve gained something in the short-term by saving yourself from feeling uncomfortable (as many people jump through incredible hoops to avoid). In the long-term, the effects of avoidance will present as low morale, low performance, low efficiency, and high turnover. All of those factors will directly affect your bottom line.

Feedback, coaching, and conflict are, in fact, three separate types of conversations and tools which can be approached in different ways to improve performance in your practice. Feedback conversations should occur between all team members, regardless of their place on the organizational chart, and are focused only on things that were witnessed by the person giving the feedback. That’s right, no triangulated communication, no gossiping, no running to the manager.

Keep Talking

Communication During Unprecedented Times
By: Rachel Teichberg, CVPM

Here we are, living through an unprecedented time as the world has been turned upside down, the future is uncertain, and the tension is high. People are stressed, afraid, worried, and exhausted. Our minds are all over the place, feeling the overwhelm of information while trying to navigate this ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.

This is new territory for everyone but let me be the one to tell you: YOU’RE DOING GREAT. It may not feel like it, but I promise that you are. You’re showing up, you're minding your distance, and you’re thinking about your employees, your business and, of course, your patients. You want what’s best for everyone and that may mean making a lot of immediate temporary changes.

Be a Source of Quality Information

  During this time, your communication skills are going to have to take the wheel. I know that it may feel like communication overload these days between the news, social media, and our inbox, but it’s important to provide resources and information about COVID-19 to your team. Do not assume everyone is getting quality news from legitimate sources. You don’t need to be an expert but provide the links and resources that can help them keep themselves and their families safe. Consider sites such as the CDC, AVMA, WHO and your local VMA. Information is being updated as the situation progresses, so continue to monitor them regularly.

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