Rising to the veterinary management challenge
When her practice manager retired, this technical staff supervisor rose to the challenge and accepted a position of leadership as the new manager at her practice. Heres what she learned.
I have been a licensed veterinary technician for 18 years. I have always loved being a veterinary technician. Over the years I took on more and more responsibility because I really cared about the practice and I wanted to be involved in its ever-evolving process. I didn't just want to be a team member. I wanted to be involved in any way possible.
I was the technical staff supervisor for many years, but when our practice manager retired, I was offered the position of practice manager. This was a whole new challenge for me. I couldn't imagine someone who none of us knew coming in and taking over not knowing if they truly shared in our vision. I felt like I knew our team and our mission and could learn the rest.
I was not ready to give up my hands on with the patients, as this is my real passion. With the support of our amazing team, I split my time between working with the patients and managing all of the business aspects of being the practice manager.
I do enjoy the management side of the job, but I also find it important for my team to still feel like I am in it with them. I think the fact that I still see patients in exam rooms, and still rotate in surgery shows the staff that I still want to keep my skills sharp and I want to be involved in the medical aspect. I want to be able to give input to the students we have training here and be involved in the learning process-it helps me learn too!
From this transition to practice manager, I found my team supports me and appreciates having someone in management who will jump in and help, regardless of what position needs filling. I find everyone is much more willing to help when that is the example put forward. We can only be successful working together for a common goal. For anyone going into a management position I have a few tips:
1. Lead by example. I have found my actions have caused many more people to follow me than my words.
2. Stay calm. You may not feel that way on the inside, but your staff and your clients especially don't need to know that.
3. Share your knowledge with as many people as you can. Don't keep it all to yourself. You'll be surprised how many people come back to you saying how much you affected their life, or inspired them to do more than they thought they could. I will never forget the first time one of our students came back to me after going to veterinary school and told me they never would have made it without everything I taught them. To me, that was priceless.
Sandra Bertholf is the hospital manager at Animal Medical of New City
New City, N.Y.