Lost focus? Target your true purpose


Many obstacles stand in the way of your happiness and success as a veterinarian, but a little introspection and team management can get you back on track

Do you remember the last time you were excited to go to work? Maybe you were a recent graduate just learning the ropes or a new owner just purchasing your first practice. Times were good, right? But over time, whether from boredom or frustration, you woke up and found you weren't as fulfilled as you used to be. It happens to the best of us—we reach a point in our professional career where the well starts to run dry and we have to reevaluate our goals and rediscover our purpose. The good news is that it doesn't take much to get back on track. Here are three steps I recommend:

Dr. Jason Anderson


Write down what gets you excited or what interests you most about your job and then create a goal based on that element. Without goals we tend to aimlessly wander in any direction. Spend 10 minutes and just start writing down things you would like to accomplish in practice. And don't be afraid to set aggressive goals. In my practice, we set a goal to see a 25 percent increase in dental cleanings and wellness exams. We break those down into monthly goals and review them at each staff meeting.

Then, communicate what you want to accomplish with your staff. Without a clear statement of your purpose, there is no way your staff can truly support you. And don't be surprised when you hear them heave a collective sigh of relief—they've probably been waiting to hear from you and will be happy to help you accomplish your goals.


If we've learned anything in this profession in the last few years, it's that we need well-trained personnel supporting us so that we can focus our time and energy on practicing good medicine and running a successful business. Selecting the right staff is where you can show your chops as an owner—and it's also where you can fall on your face.

To put this in perspective, if you were the captain of a ship trying to cross the ocean, what would happen if there was dissension in the ranks? Not blatant mutiny, but an underlying current of doubt and distress. Would you make it? You might, but it would be a miserable journey. But what do you think would happen if everyone supported you in your conviction to make it? Would your odds of success increase? Of course they would—significantly. And so would the good feelings.


You'll only reach your goals when you have staff fully supporting those goals. If a staff member doesn't support your goals, that person has to go. Period, end of story. It doesn't matter if she's the most highly trained technician at the practice or the receptionist who's been there for 15 years—unsupportive staff will poison your practice.

So how can you tell if someone is poisoning your team? If morale is low in your practice, someone is causing it and it's your job to find out whom. Maybe it's the kennel worker who doesn't express a love for animals, but just needs a job. Maybe it's the receptionist who spreads gossip and tells jokes at others' expense. Whoever it is, realize that by keeping this team member you are supporting someone who is working against you and your goals. Ultimately, your practice and the rest of your staff will be better off without this person.

Letting someone go is never easy or fun, but it can be necessary at times. If you take a moment to remember that it's your practice, your goals, and your purpose steering this ship, you won't hesitate to dismiss people who are taking away from your dream. Surround yourself with people who positively support your goals and purpose, give them the tools to succeed, and always communicate what you want to accomplish—you can't help but succeed with that formula.

Dr. Jason Anderson is the owner of Marshall Animal Hospital in Marshall, Texas. Please send questions or comments to ve@advanstar.com.

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