In veterinarians' wildest dreams

June 24, 2016
Jeremy Campfield, DVM
Jeremy Campfield, DVM

Dr. Jeremy Campfield lives near Sacramento with his family, including an aging mini Aussie and an obstreperous pitbull mix that some mistake for a chocolate Lab (to the delight of her owners). When the family is not getting their hands dirty in the garden, Dr. Campfield indulges in his love for the outdoors with hiking, kitesurfing and climbing aboard any two-wheeled contraption. Please remember: Watch for cyclists, share the road, and pass them like you love them!

Join me and imagine, if you will, a fantasy practice that doesn't follow the rulesa practice that everyone owns, the pay is great and slacking isn't tolerated.

Getty Images | Illustrations by Katie James & Alison Fulton

Did the veterinary hospital software just crash? Did the new kennel attendant show up late for the third day in a row? Are you fresh out of your favorite heartworm preventive-again? Are things just not getting done at your hospital?

Let's all dream for a moment.

Welcome to Dr. Campfield's Recalcitrant Animal Paradise (CRAP)!

This is a fantastical, almost magical veterinary sanctuary that just doesn't follow the rules. Clients and doctors argue about who's more satisfied. The most fractious cats prance around, asking for another injection. Emergencies are already scheduled. The candy drawer is never empty. Our patients are so happy to be there and get along so well that we removed all of the kennel doors.

Are you seriously going to keep reading about CRAP? You'd better sit down because this is going to be a heck of a trip, friend. How did we conceive this masterpiece of the veterinary arts, you ask? Follow our not-so-simple golden rules below and, you too, will be longing for more hours in the clinic sooner than you think.

Everyone is an owner!

Here at CRAP, we only hire the most talented, skilled and experienced veterinary professionals from around the globe. This was such a tremendous opportunity, that we became a magnet for would-be employees and investors. You see, in order for anyone to be hired at CRAP, they're required to buy in. No cash? No problem. We self-financed shares for our most gifted prospects to be paid out of their salary via negotiated contracts. This strategy has guaranteed our success from the inside out. No milking the time clock: You can bet that each and every CRAP employee knows when they're being a contributor or a burden. They all see it in real-time, during our monthly hospital performance meetings. This has also eliminated any feelings that doctors and/or owners are the monarchy. We're all focused on doing our part to accomplish the same mission. We all respect each other's roles as integral, with no sense that some CRAP jobs are of greater importance than others. Of course, salaries vary with position. Our veterinarians can afford a life and pay down their debt. Many of our support staff have been able to move out of their parents' houses, and some even own a car.

We aggressively manage!

You can bet that the CRAP management team is doing everything it can, every single day, to meet the needs of our employees. Being our most valuable asset, CRAP's employee-owners come first in the day-to-day. That means negotiating the best possible benefits to meet their lifestyle needs. CRAP's benefits provide a real-world safety net to match the current economy. We regularly review our vendors' and providers' performance. If they're not cutting it, we move on to someone who will. In other words, we're not afraid to cut the crap. Sure, the economy and the government are changing. But so are we, rolling with the punches and never delaying a business move when it makes sense to do so.

We have the best extras!

We've got on-site pet and child care. A break room with foosball? We've got that too. Need to take a nap? No worries-there are hammocks under a nice shady tree among the gardens out back. Our clients sometimes come without their pets just to hang out in CRAP's cafeteria, where they might even get up-close and personal for a relaxed Q&A with one of their favorite doctors while enjoying a root beer float.

We pay really well!

Sure, we have a time clock to make sure we're complying with applicable laws, but we're too cool to care how many hours you work at CRAP. Overstaffing is more of an issue than understaffing. Some days, we are forced to send a few staff members away to play a round of golf or take the afternoon off with their family-which, of course, they're fine with, because it doesn't negatively affect their paycheck. All of this because most of our incredible employees would rather be working at our incredible hospital than doing anything anywhere else. The CRAP proprietary algorithm makes this all work. I'll share that with you in another article-NOT! (It's our very own secret sauce.)

Our team takes all the questions!

Our clientele understands and expects that we charge what we have to in order to deliver CRAP-level care. We work with each and every client to extend the options they need for the most successful outcome possible. Streamlined preventive-care plans are agreed upon before the doctor ever walks in the door. Support staff are trained to articulate the treatment goals, benefits and costs to clients. You see, we absolutely prize our doctors' time. CRAP DVMs need to be examining patients and laying out treatment plans. CRAP staff are more than capable to handle any convincing or "selling" that might need to be done, along with the more cumbersome communication. Clients demeaning the technicians and demanding to speak directly with the doctor about every single detail? That simply doesn't fly with us. We don't take no crap off of nobody. Our technicians and front office staff actually communicate more effectively than our doctors, anyway.

Noncontributors crap out at CRAP!

Yes, I did say that we all own part of CRAP, but we've also made sure that ownership doesn't equal tenure. Being an owner doesn't mean that you get to take a nap in your office and watch the paychecks roll in. A few people just didn't work out. They weren't contributing, as was evident in their quarterly performance reviews. Or maybe they just didn't jibe with the rest of the team. They had to be let go and were bought out at fair market value for their company shares. And you can bet that someone was eager to fill their position.

Everyone wants to work at CRAP!

The working conditions are so ideal, we are so well compensated, we feel so secure in our jobs, and the communication is so professional and concise, that we value our jobs second only to our families. We feel we must try to do a good job all the time, because every day so many applicants are knocking down our doors for a chance to apply. You want to apply to work at CRAP? Get in line, buddy.

We have perfect relationships with specialists!

Our medicine is sound and we put everything we've got into every CRAP case. But we know we can't win 'em all. We understand that the future of veterinary medicine involves more patients getting tertiary care, which we encourage. We aren't intimidated by our boarded colleagues, and we work with them every step of the way to make sure our patients get the care they need. This is the basis for the CRAP medical standard. This respect is returned in kind by the specialists we refer to. They are conscious of the business aspect of our mutually chosen careers, yet we all understand logistical and client-based limitations in achieving our common focus.

Sometimes, after a particularly nasty post-surgical complication, the CRAP referring DVM and the referral DACVS join hands and prance around the treatment area, throwing confetti, because we're all just that flipping happy that the dog survived the ordeal with minimal stress to the client!

Now take a deep breath. I'm sorry to bring you back to the real world, where you probably don't work in the conditions I just described. Who can create the above? I sure would like to be a part of it if anyone in our profession can make this happen. Change the name if you must, but do give me a call when it's time to hire.

Dr. Jeremy Campfield works in emergency and critical care private practice in Southern California. He is also an avid kiteboarder.