Ask Amy: Dirty doctor creates a mess for the practice


How to address personal hygeine and practice cleanliness.

Our veterinarian practice owner wears stained smocks with soiled clothes, and she never does her hair. We've hinted at her dirty clothes and laid out clean smocks, but she didn't improve. She also ignores the fact that the practice is filthy and smells. My fellow team members and I try to come in early and clean before opening because we're so embarrassed. I feel like we care more about her business than she does. Any suggestions?



When the owner is the problem, you need to be realistic about what you can do. It's her practice, and if she doesn't feel like changing, she won't. Having said that, here's my solution: Approach the doctor as a team to address the cleanliness of the building. You don't want to offend her, so stick to concrete evidence. Have clients commented on how dirty the reception area is? Are fewer clients coming in? If so, you could say something like, "We see fewer clients visiting us and we're concerned that it may be because the facility doesn't look as good as it should." Then suggest hiring an outside cleaning service.

It's harder to talk about the owner's appearance. You could say, "We think we should put more of an emphasis on how we all look and put together a policy on expectations for clothes and hair." I like your idea of laying out fresh lab coats, and I think that's probably what's going to have to keep happening. You shouldn't have to do that, but sometimes people do things that aren't exactly their responsibility because it gets them to a better end point. Just consider washing her smocks as part of clinic laundering. —AMY

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