Ask Katie: DVM and Tech, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

April 21, 2019
Katie Adams, CVPM
Katie Adams, CVPM

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

Ah, the hospital workplace romance. So achingly cute! So wildly entertaining! So Greys Anatomy! Now add puppies, kittens and a veterinary team. Impossibly adorable, right?

Aliaksei Smalenski - stock.adobe.com

Not so much. Your veterinary practice needs to have set expectations and written policy to stay out of hot water if (and, ahem, when) things go south, practice management expert Katie Adams, CVPM, says.

Q: "One of the associate veterinarians at the practice I manage is dating one of the technicians. I've never encountered this before and our handbook doesn't address this type of relationship. I'm not sure if I should-or can-intervene, nor do I know how to handle it if their relationship ends." 

This is a complicated situation. To begin, I would consider adding a written policy about workplace romances in your veterinary clinic and/or an ethics code to your clinic handbook.

Even though the DVM doesn't have managerial authority of the technician, they're in an assumed position of power over the technician simply because of their title. This is important-and your practice's policy should address all types of relationships, regardless of the power dynamic.

In the written policy, outline behavioral expectations for the involved parties while on the premises and during work sponsored functions. Secondly, review your performance management system. Ask yourself:

How is the performance of employees measured? 

How are complaints about poor performance dealt with? 

Is there a clear path for an employee to bring you complaints of favoritism?

Make sure all processes and procedures related to performance are clear and that they are applied equally to everyone, every single time.

Lastly, I would consult your attorney about what to do if the relationship ends and things go south at work.

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

 

Editor's note: We often get confessions about positive and negative examples of veterinary workplace relationships. Have you been involved with a coworker in practice? Think this advice covers it all? Tell us in the comments.