Seek practitioners with 'right fit' for practice


As an equine practice expands, the need arises to build up the veterinary staff.

As an equine practice expands, the need arises to build up the veterinary staff.

Often a veterinarian needs to be added before the caseload has expanded to the point of being able to support another position and the practice owner is looking toward the new veterinarian to build the clientele.

Competence and clinical ability are the foundations for building clientele, and educated horse owners will readily interpret the ability of a veterinarian and that veterinarian's confidence level. What the client will not observe are the other, often elusive characteristics of the veterinarian's persona that determine whether he or she is a "good fit" for the practice.

Building blocks

Almost everyone today can write a great-looking resumé and have a list of references that are sure to give great recommendations. Many people will interview very well and be able to give answers to questions in an interview that they know the interviewer wants to hear.

Obviously some red flags may surface during the initial application process, such as unrealistic compensation and workload expectations. As long as the practice owner keeps this in mind, the initial selection process can be undertaken knowing that the resumé and interview part of hiring a veterinarian is the beginning and not the end of the selection process.

Warning signs

Once a decision has been made, the new veterinarian should be hired with the understanding that there is an initial "break-in" period of two to three months. This will hopefully provide enough time to determine if the new veterinarian will be a net asset or a net liability to the practice.

During this period several questions should be answered:

Does the veterinarian try to deal equally and professionally with all existing and new clientele of the practice?

The client is the most important person in the practice.

Every practice has its share of difficult clients. The equine practitioner needs to be able to rise above these personality quirks to ensure that the client and the horse are taken care of. This doesn't mean that veterinarians need to work for clients who are abusive, have unrealistic expectations, or try to dictate the veterinary care of the horse. The veterinarian needs to be able to see what is happening and discuss the aspects of the case with the client even if it means spending the extra time to discuss how and why the case needs to be handled a certain way.

Does the veterinarian treat support staff with respect?

This is often the area where some equine practitioners have the most difficulty. Unfortunately, many veterinarians treat support staff as lower life forms and almost relish the opportunity to criticize every aspect of the support staff's work no matter what happens. This behavior will undermine the fiber of the practice and lead to constant employee turnover.

Does the veterinarian emphasize the negative?

No practice is perfect and no job is perfect. If an associate is constantly finding fault with the practice, appearing to regularly find something new to complain about, and expecting the practice owner to make his or her world perfect, the problem probably lies with the associate and his or her career choice rather than the veterinary practice.

If some of these problems are seen in a new associate during the initial break-in period, they should be addressed immediately and decisively. If they are swept under the rug, these problems will continue to fester and undermine the role of the practice.

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