Ask Shawn: A poor approach to patient care


Veterinary team members need to be direct with underperforming co-workers.

Our head technician, who's also practice manager, takes patient-care shortcuts. When the practice owner questions her, she finds a way to blame it on me or other technicians. How can I communicate to the owner that she's not giving our patients the care they deserve?



You may not want to hear this, but the best way to address the situation is to confront the head technician directly. Tell her, "I've noticed your shortcuts, and I need you to think about the impact it's having on the rest of the team." Show her why she should change her behavior, and present examples of what she's doing wrong. If she's still unwilling to change, tell her you're going to take the issue to the practice owner. Then follow through if necessary.

When you approach the practice owner, be ready to give one specific example of the technician's problem behavior. The incident should be significant enough that other team members will remember it and will support your account. If you took the fall for a particular problem, you might ask to see your employee file so you can set the record straight.

If you're not convinced you need to take these steps, then you have to let it go. Until you make it uncomfortable for the person breaking the rules, she won't change her behavior. And if no one is saying anything, the practice owner probably doesn't know how serious the problem is. So ask yourself: How much more can you take? If the answer is, "Not much," then prepare yourself for difficult conversations—first with your colleague, then with the practice owner. —SHAWN

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