VHMA announces 2024 Practice Manager of the Year

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This year’s recipient is Joshua Blakemore, CVPM, RVT, FFCP

Veterinary Hospital Manager Association (VHMA) announced that Joshua Blakemore, CVPM, RVT, FFCP, has been chosen as its 2024 Practice Manager of the Year (PMOY). Blakemore was selected as this year’s recipient for helping fellow technicians in Vermont overcome hurdles. According to an organizational release,1 the VHMA uses the PMOY to honor a practice manager who uses their experience, expertise, and knowledge to help make their practice a better place as well as improve business operations.

“[Blakemore’s] initiative in advocating for an apprenticeship program and licensure reciprocity in Vermont for technicians, assisting the local community during a natural disaster, and developing staff training programs for his hospital earned him this distinction above over 70 other nominations,” said Christine Shupe, CAE, VHMA executive director, in an organizational release.1

Joshua Blakemore, CVPM, RVT, FFCP, Veterinary Hopsital Managers Association's 2024 Practice Manager of the Year (Image courtesy of Veterinary Hopsital Managers Association)

Joshua Blakemore, CVPM, RVT, FFCP, Veterinary Hopsital Managers Association's 2024 Practice Manager of the Year (Image courtesy of Veterinary Hopsital Managers Association)

Blakemore was studying business and animal science at Eastern Gateway Community College where he received a certification through the Professional Veterinary Technician School. Once receiving his certification, he worked his way up from kennel attendant, to lead technician when he lived in California. Blakemore then followed a clinical supervisor position to Vermont where he joined the team in Burlington, igniting his passion for management. While at the Onion River Animal Hospital (ORAH), he worked his way up the ladder from technician supervisor to practice manager.

Creating opportunity for fellow technicians

In 2023, Vermont State University, home to the state’s only technician program, lost crucial funding that led to the veterinary technician education being in jeopardy. Despite being saved, the fear of losing the program inspired Blakemore to create a veterinary medicine apprenticeship program for Vermont.

“We want to provide training for technicians so that they can administer anesthesia and perform dental work. Once they complete the program, they will have an apprenticeship certificate, validating the skills and knowledge they have learned,” explained Blakemore.1

Blakemore worked with the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) during his free time to create the curriculum and talked to veterinary professionals across the state that expressed interested in teaching. The goal is to have the program completed and approved by the VDOL by late 2024, early 2025.1

After moving to Vermont, Blakemore learned the state did not have a licensing agency, but the Vermont Veterinary Technician Association (VVTA) did. The move presented a new challenge to Blakemore because even though he was licensed nationally and in the state of California, the program he attended closed, so his transcripts were lost, making it impossible to present the paperwork needed for licensure through the VVTA. This inspired Blakemore to pursue a VVTA advisory position to try and change the bylaws. After fighting for 2 years to make licensure by reciprocity a reality in Vermont, it became official in 2023. He would then go on to become the first technician to be licensed through licensure by reciprocity.1

“For me personally, I didn’t need to be licensed in Vermont because I was a practice manager, but it made me wonder how many other Vermont transplants were in the same boat,” Blakemore reflected. “Would they give up on being credentialed technicians in Vermont?” Blakemore’s stance was if you went to school and got licensed, you should be considered a licensed, credentialed technician in Vermont.

Work inside and out of the clinic

The same year the licensure by reciprocity became available in Vermont, the state experienced flooding that caused damage across the state. ORAH decided to keep its doors open during the flooding to help any displaced or impacted animals. As they remained open, Blakemore contacted the suppliers for the hospital and received hundreds of pet food boxes to donate to owners within his community. ORAH also created a charitable fund to help provide financial aid to those in need of veterinary care.

Along with helping pets in his community during the flooding, Blakemore began to also help members of the community. Once the flooding stopped, Blakemore volunteered to help residents deal with their property damages.

“I had survivor’s guilt. Every day after work, I helped with cleaning out people’s houses, mold mitigation and just doing anything I could with the local organizations to help people who were affected get back on their feet,” expressed Blakemore.

Within ORAH, Blakemore created a tier level training program for roles ranging from assistant to level 4 technician by placing them in their respective level and giving them training to support promotions to the next level. This helped foster staff growth in the practice and support employee retention.

Honoring practice managers

Each year the VHMA asks practice owners, collages, or veterinary management professionals themselves to nominate a professional they feel has made their practice a better place. Nominators, both self and nominated, then must explain in detail why they think their choice is qualified for the award and what they did for their practice.1

Each nomination must include an essay up to 750 words explaining why they should be selected for the award and the transformation they did at their practice. The range of the transformation can be anywhere between financial, cultural, marketing, practice organization, and more.

As the winner, Blakemore received complimentary admission to and will be recognized at the VHMA’s 2024 Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina and $1250 for travel related expenses. For the first time this year, Blakemore will receive complimentary VHMA/ACT Client service Certificate Program registration, thanks to the support from VHMA Platinum Sponsor CareCredit.

Reference

VHMA announces 2024 Practice Manager of the Year: Joshua Blakemore, CVPM, RVT, FFCP. News release. Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. July, 5 2024, Accessed July 9, 2024.

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