How to foster tighter bonds with your associate veterinarians

dvm360dvm360 June 2021
Volume 56

Associate doctors play an integral role in the success of your practice. That’s why it’s crucial for practice managers to build long-lasting and positive relationships with them. Not sure where to start? Here are a few useful strategies.

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zorandim75 /

Associate veterinarians are the lifeblood of your practice, according to Brian Conrad, CVPM, practice manager of Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Washington. “Without our associate [doctors], we don’t exist,” he said.

During his lecture at the Fetch dvm360® virtual conference, Conrad explained the significance of building stronger bonds with associate veterinarians. He also offered strategies for helping practice managers and owners create a more cohesive environment that everyone can thrive in.

Set clear expectations

To help establish tighter relationships with your associate veterinarians, you must have clear job descriptions, Conrad told attendees.

“The clearer the expectations are laid out, the better the relationship will be from the start,” Conrad said. Here’s a look at some key characteristics he says to look for when hiring associate veterinarians:

  • Practice exceptional medicine
  • A leader within the clinic
  • Ethical
  • A good communicator
  • A delegator
  • Change ready and an innovator
  • Work to educate clients toward compliance
  • A team player
  • Reliable
  • Creates a positive environment for staff and clients

Financial expectations

In addition to providing job expectations, it’s crucial to discuss the monetary components of the business. Make sure associate veterinarians understand your expectations for:

  • Gross production
  • Average transaction
  • Number of appointments per hour
  • Number of surgeries/dental appointments per hour
  • Doctor schedule and hours worked
  • Community service

Continuing education (CE) goals

Veterinarians tend to enjoy continuing education (CE), something Conrad encourages at his practice. He says one great way to help strengthen your relationship with associate doctors is by highlighting their CE accomplishments on social media. Not only does that make them feel valued, but it shows your clients the strides these doctors are willing to take to provide the best possible care to their pets.

Promote staff education

Staff meetings are great learning opportunities for the entire team. Conrad suggests having associate veterinarians prepare a 30-minute lecture providing practical information that is client-friendly and includes plenty of photos. At his staff meetings, he sends a notebook across the room and everyone writes down their topics of interest. Then, he lets the doctors pick out 1 or 2 of these topics to discuss.

“It’s important that we educate our staff so that they can be confident. Our clients love a confident staff member. There is nothing worse than having someone incompetent or not sure,” Conrad said.

Team building

Another way to boost staff morale is by incorporating more fun into the workplace, says Conrad. Try hosting several team-building exercises and events so your associate veterinarians can mix and mingle with other team members outside of the workplace.

“We are very quick to do some kind of team building to really create that cohesive team,” he said. “We work very hard and it’s very stressful and it’s going to be important for us to let our hair down a little bit and at least have a good laugh.”

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