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Leadership

safety

Better Safe Than Sorry

Getting Technical

Workplace violence is nearly impossible to predict, but having a safety plan in place is in everyone’s best interest.

We owe it to everybody on the veterinary team to take all reasonable precautions to prevent a violent or dangerous workplace situation, whether the circumstance involves a potentially volatile client or an upset employee. Here are the most common threats you might face on the job and the steps you can take to de-escalate them. […]

criticism

Constructive Criticism, Poor Communication and More

Opening Shots

Opening Shots columnist Dr. Ernie Ward answers your questions.

Q: I have an employee who can’t take constructive criticism. When my practice manager talks to her privately, the meetings take forever and she is full of blame for others. How can I help her understand that we’re only trying to help? A: First, make sure your communication isn’t part of the problem. Delivering constructive […]

communication

Words Matter

Talk the Talk

Learn to use better phrases so that your client communication is more positive and meaningful. 

Rather than making a New Year’s resolution at the beginning of 2020, I chose a word for the year: communication. As I reflect on my actions and the communication skills I practiced, I’m reminded of how much words matter. The right words spoken at the right time can build connections with people and positively affect […]

health

Who Calls the Shots?

Take Charge

Veterinary practices have some leeway but must follow the law when they seek to influence employee health.

Few people would object if their employer offered them free gym memberships or voluntary access to a smoking-cessation program. Their reactions might be quite different if certain health benchmarks or controls were made mandatory. All this raises the question of when an employer can require someone to get a vaccine, for example, or stop smoking, […]

pet owners

The Client’s Perspective

Talk the Talk

Five specific communication skills can help the veterinary team maintain a strong connection with pet owners, especially during difficult times. 

I recently took my long-haired dachshund, Gidget, to a veterinary hospital because she needed treatment for atopy. Because I had moved a short time before, I didn’t have an established relationship with a local veterinarian. My first thought when I scheduled the appointment was, “Are they going to let me be with her?” My next […]

work-life

Find a Happy Medium

H.R. Huddle

Some people are career-oriented while others place greater value on time away from work. Practice leaders can support both.

We have all heard about work-life balance. Over the past few years, though, a new phrase has been tossed into the mix: work-life integration. Is there a difference, or has the old phrase been given a fresher name? The short answer is that the idea of work-life balance has evolved into the more holistic concept […]

Six Growing Issues

The veterinary world is getting more complicated. It’s time to embrace change for the good of the profession, clients and patients.

If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll remember these two reports: Pew Research Center’s “Future Directions for Veterinary Medicine” (1989) and KPMG’s “The Current and Future Market for Veterinarians and Veterinary Medical Services in the U.S.” (1999). Both reports helped explain what was going on in the veterinary profession then and, more importantly, what the […]

Opening Shots team pay

Staff Strife, Instagram Envy and More

Opening Shots

Opening Shots columnist Dr. Ernie Ward answers your questions.

Q: My best technician of 10 years is loved by our clients but hated by our staff. She’s patient and kind with pets but condescending and rude to other team members. I don’t want to fire her, but the situation is destroying my team. What do I do? A: Unlike Bigfoot and the Loch Ness […]

customer service

Nurture the Bond

Getting Technical

The pandemic upset client relationships, but you can still provide good customer service.

Connecting with clients is a crucial part of the bonding equation. We strive for lasting relationships between the veterinary team and clients and do whatever we can to build and maintain the bond. The goal has always been to dissuade clients from stopping at another practice in town as they drive to ours. We achieve […]

telemedicine

Assisting From Afar

Fearless

Telemedicine allows veterinarians to communicate with homebound clients, observe patients in a relaxed state and even suggest alterations to the pet’s environment.

I don’t think a single veterinary colleague of mine would disagree that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years professionally and personally. Abrupt changes to workflow, curbside appointments, the immediate need for instant digital communication and the exponential pet explosion involving many first-time owners have all occurred at once. The typically slow-to-change veterinary […]

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