Ask Shawn: Pain in the heart


Here's what to do when the veterinarian at your clinic doesn't believe in pain management.

The doctor at my practice doesn't believe in pain management. When he performs major surgeries, like orthopedic or large exploratory surgeries, he doesn't even use pain management drugs before or after the operation. As the practice manager, what should I do? I feel this is unfair and cruel to our patients.



I am so sorry that you are in this situation. It's sad that we must still witness 1970s medicine in today's veterinary market. Let's operate under the assumption that, as Maya Angelou says, when we know better, we do better.

Shawn McVey

I recommend requesting a meeting where you ask the veterinarian to provide a script for how he wants to handle clients who ask about pain management. If you have a current mission statement that talks about providing excellent medicine, use this as the reason to broach the discussion. You want to offer clients everything possible for their pets. You might even point out how the practice could generate more revenue if you implement a pain management program.

If he's unwilling or doesn't understand why you're asking, I think you should risk a statement, such as this: "I'd like to spearhead the effort to reach out to clients and tell them about our improved levels of patient care and our new standards for pain management. Would you allow me to do that for the practice?" It's very important to maintain a vibe of respect and service during this discussion. You're not there to place blame or to judge, but rather to understand and educate yourself and clients better. —SHAWN

Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics editorial advisory boards and is CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Chicago. For videos and articles containing more of McVey's tips and tricks on issues relating to veterinary personnel management, conflict, and communication, visit

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