Advice Unleashed (October 2018)

American Veterinarian®October 2018
Volume 3
Issue 7

Tips from business, financial, and practice management experts.

Servent Leadership

Nancy Dewitz, director of sales and marketing and technical consultant for Beyond Indigo Pets, says the key thing to remember when choosing practice management software is that the same product isn’t right for everybody.

“I recommend that practices sit down and create a list of all their wants, needs, and have-to-haves,” Dewitz advises. “Get those deal breakers on paper, and remove emotion from the process. Once you do that, you’re going to pick a successful product for your practice.”

She says some of the things that practices should consider in choosing software include good record-keeping capabilities, integrity and security, concise reporting capabilities, and an easy-to-use interface.

3 Layers of Client-Veterinarian Interactions

When we think about client-veterinarian interactions, there are several parallel processes happening,” says Linda Fineman, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), director of veterinary talent and knowl­edge strategy at Ethos Veterinary Health. On one hand, you’re compiling a history, doing a physical, making recommendations, and agreeing on a plan of care. “That’s sort of the nuts and bolts,” she says. But while that is happening, the veterinarian also has to provide structure to the conversation so that the client knows what’s happening and what to expect.

“And the third layer of parallel activity is building trust,” she continues. “We have to build a relationship. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what you recommend.” Clients may not follow your recom­mendations if they do not trust your care or you haven’t built a partnership based around caring for their pet.

Taking a Proactive Approach to Mental Health

Trying to set yourself up for success ahead of time is much more effective than trying to get ahead when you’re in the middle of a major depres­sive episode,” says Jason Sweitzer, RVT, DVM, chief financial officer and board member of Not One More Vet Inc. “When you’re having suicidal ideation, you’re not thinking clearly—neurochemically there’s a lot going on. You can’t just logically think your way out of it. It’s not a choice you make.”

Instead, he recommends incorporating mental routines into your daily routine, such as grate­fulness exercises and simply thanking the people around you. “Each day, ask yourself what are 3 things you are grateful,” Dr. Sweitzer suggests.

The Benefits of Servant Leadership

Although it is very popular in the nonprofit world, Robin Brogdon, MA, owner and president of BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group, says she has not seen servant leadership used much in veterinary medicine. “Essentially, servant leadership focuses on the team and the employees as opposed to the top-level leadership in terms of influence, power, and direction,” Brogdon says.

She compares this leadership style to an inverted organizational chart in which the team is the most important part of the business and the focus is on developing their talents. “If an industry or a business is focused on the needs of the team and developing the team and engaging the team and serving the team,” she continues, “the team then serves the business that much better.”

Mentors: Vital in Veterinary Medicine

“ We have great medical skills mentorship built into our continuing education environments and our classrooms,” says Carrie Jurney, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology). “But what we don’t have enough of is education on things like compassion fatigue and how to deal with the emotional burden of euthanasia one minute and a new puppy appoint­ment the next.”

Veterinary medicine can be very isolating, she notes, but mentorship can help. “A mentor is one who has walked your path,” says Dr. Jurney, who serves as a mentor in the virtual support group MightyVet. “They’ve walked the walk and come out on the other side successfully, and they can help you get to that successful place faster.”

Connecting veterinary professionals and students with qualified mentors is one of the chief goals of MightyVet. “We have what we call the Mighty Mentors,” she says. “We offer office hours every month where you can log in to the website and talk to someone who may help you resolve a difficult situation.”

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