I'll be there for you

October 15, 2016
Julie Cappel, DVM

Dr. Julie Cappel owns Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital in Warren, Michigan. She served as president of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association in 2015.

You dont have to go dance in a fountain in Central Park to get the veterinary team together, but these other fun team meeting ideas could challenge and bond your veterinary team all the same.

When it comes to team meetings, do you feel like you're always stuck in second gear? (Cue "I'll be there for you" by The Rembrandts). Team meetings are an important part of the success of your veterinary hospital, but, sure they can become tedious and boring if you don't stretch and challenge your team. To fix this, I add something “fun” every few meetings, surprising the team to keep things fresh. With a little thought and effort you can, too. 

Be prepared 

When you first introduce the idea of “fun” into your meetings, you may get some push back. Be aware that some team members are shy or just don't see the value. But if you're patient and persistent in your mission to have fun, most will come around, and soon you'll have meetings people look forward to. 

The one where the team hunts for treasure 

I've used many variations of the scavenger hunt-from simple around-the-hospital Easter egg hunts to an all-day road rally. The key to the scavenger hunt is to make it a true team event, with each role represented (a doctor, a technician, a receptionist, etc.). Mixing the teams helps to bond and encourage better relationships.

Scavenger hunt clues can be made up of hospital training exercises or just fun puzzles. Either way, the ultimate goal is to get the team members working together to inspire everyday teamwork.  

Egg hunt in action! Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie Cappel


There's a high-five waiting for anyone who can guess what they're singing. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie Cappel."Smelly cat, smeeelly caaaat, what are they feeding you?" 

Team karaoke is always great fun.  We have an inexpensive karaoke machine that belongs to the hospital. At team meetings, staff members are split into teams and asked to write new lyrics to any song about our veterinary hospital or about a client education subject.

Each team is given 30 to 40 minutes in different areas of the hospital to write and choreograph their song and performance. We all get back together for each team to perform their new song for the group.

You can also set it up as a competition with judges (“American Idol: Veterinary Edition!”) or just perform for fun. If your team members are anything like ours, you'll be surprised at the amount of creativity and talent they possess. 

And here's a tip: Be sure to film it for maximum laughs later (Laughing with not at). 

The one with "Minute to Win It" 

This was a popular television show in which contestants tried to solve 10 deceptively simple games in a minute or less to win a grand prize. The clues and games are easy to find online. Just choose some games that can be done in a small area, choose some teams, and buy the usually cheap game supplies. Everyone will have a great time and no one will leave saying you had a boring meeting.



"But they don't know that we know they know we know!" 

Many board games can be adapted to fit a team meeting-Pictionary, for example. Make up your own clues and have teams draw on an easel or whiteboard to have their team guess the answers. If you incorporate clients (be nice!) or hospital situations into the clues, it's that much more fun.  Set it up as a competition between two teams and have some prizes at the end. This is a great way to see if you have any artists in your group.

The one where the team pays it forward

On a mission to give back! Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie Cappel A shopping trip takes a bit of planning and a trip away from the hospital, so save it for a time when a big reward is needed. Take your team to a local shopping mall and split them into teams. Give them some cash and some “pay it forward” tasks to do. For example, “pay for a stranger's coffee purchase at Starbucks,” or “buy something for a child at the toy store.”

Encourage them to be creative and take photos of their encounters. That ways, it's not only rewarding for your team, but for your community too. Plus, it creates some great stories to share when the team gets back together.

Try one of these ideas at your next team meeting and make your veterinary hospital a more exciting and challenging place for your team. Okay, fine, you can go play around in a fountain with your team. 

Dr. Julie Cappel is the practice owner of the small animal hospital, Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital in Warren, Michigan.