Five reasons to feel good about veterinary medicine


Although the future of the veterinary industry might be scary, it won't be disastrous.

There always seem to be two sides to every story, and question of whether veterinary medicine’s glass is half full or half empty these days is a great example. This month, two veterinary practice consultant colleagues—Mark Opperman, CVPM, and Sheila Grosdidier, RVT, look at both sides of the hot issue of oversupply of veterinarians. Who do you agree with? Tell us in the comments here.

Here’s fair warning to all you nail biters, hand wringers and others looking for new reasons to get your knickers in a twist: This may not be the blog post for you. I want you to take a moment to stop and appreciate all the good that lies ahead of us. Although the future can be scary at times, trust me that everything is not disaster with a side order of chaos for everyone choosing the field of veterinary medicine. If you doubt it, just consider these five points:

1. You can feel good that, because of preventive medicine, pets are living longer lives. There is still a great need for us to impart the wellness message to our clients—and that’s good news that we can help. We know the message of wellness is timeless. By making some small adjustments, we can ensure that the wellness message is consistently relayed and given the importance and focus it deserves.

If you think you’re already doing this at your practice, remember that one of the primary reasons clients aren’t coming into your veterinary hospital is that they don’t see the value in regular exams. That means we have opportunity available, but we haven’t proved our point to everyone coming in the door. Want to know how good you are at getting the message across? Try videotaping a few of your exam room visits and, with an unbiased eye, watch what your clients see and hear for the entire visit. Even when you aren’t in the exam room and they’re all alone. It’s good news when they smile through the entire visit and they are still smiling, right?

2. Information is now more readily available to clients. The Internet finally gives your clients the chance to verify the quality and care you provide pets. Education is an even more essential part of the practice experience to ensure client satisfaction and retention. Demonstrate to clients that you want them to make good decisions based on the right information and that you are there to be their guide and partner in making healthcare choices for their pet. What are you doing right now that actively represents this position in every pet visit? Also, do you provide links to the best websites where clients can get reliable, accurate information online? By being proactive with resources online, you are facilitating this good news.

3. Team education is more readily available. Webinars, training tools and free handouts—they’re all right there to give you the opportunity to help your team members be their best. You don’t have to do it alone anymore.

Nothing gives a better return on investment than education when you consider the tremendous potential for team retention, productivity, patient care and client service. There’s even “team training in a box(link)”—gotta love it! Each of your team members should have a training plan for the year that includes the specific webinars, product training, client education and professional development they will complete to increase their value (as well as potentially increasing their wage). Your best performers love education, and you’ll love the result.

4. Overall, the pet industry has held up well in comparison to many other industries over the past several years. Veterinary medicine is predicted to grow a modest 4 percent in 2013. That’s not as good as the outlook for pet Halloween costumes, but we still have a chance to drive our destiny because clients have told us what we they need from us. And, by the way, if clients want to spend money on Halloween costumes, it just proves they do have money to spend. We just need to show them we have something better to spend their money on than making their pet look like a superhero, right?

Certainly today’s issues won’t be solved with today’s thinking. That’s the good news, because it gives us the opportunity to engage in new thinking instead of experiencing the drudge and tedium of doing things the same old way. With change comes the sensation that anything is possible. So, what stands in your way? What inspired you to finish veterinary school or finally apply for that job you always wanted at the animal hospital? What cleared the way for you to own your own practice or become a practice manager? Remember when you thought you couldn’t, but then you knew you could? Embrace what the future has in store for you. What’s it going to be? Good or gloom? You get to choose. So, right now, choose one thing you see as good news for your practice’s future and make a plan to bring that good news into reality.

The “Management Matters” blog features the writing of veterinary practice management consultants Mark Opperman, Sheila Grosdidier and Monica Dixon Perry. Come back every month for their unique take on current and future trends in veterinary practice as well as tried-and-true tips for improving patient care, team member morale and practice revenue.

Find out where Mark Opperman, CVPM, thinks the industry is headed here.

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