There were over 150 nominations for the Practice Manager of the Year award
The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) has named its Practice Manager of the Year (PMOY) as Suzanna (Suzy) Berry, practice manager at Pets R Family, located in St Johns, Florida, announced in an organizational release.1 This annual award is offered by VHMA to recognize practice managers who use their knowledge, experience, and expertise to transform their veterinary practice and improve business operations. The VHMA believes that Berry’s efforts have resulted in a better workplace for staff and improved care for pets.
As a PMOY Award recipient, Berry will be recognized at VHMA’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Conference in Glendale, Arizona and will receive a complimentary conference registration and $1,250 for travel expenses. She said in the release, “I am ecstatic and so unbelievably honored to have this award. It was a validation for me in a way, that I made the right decision 7 years ago.”1
Berry first got into the veterinary industry when she was a volunteer for the Humane Society in Jacksonville, Florida. She said in the release, “I was so excited when I got the job at the Humane Society that I never even asked what the pay was. Though it was an entry level position, it was definitely all worth it.”1
She ended up spending 5 years in shelter medicine before coming across Pets R Family and was hired as customer service manager for the practice in 2020, but she was promoted to practice manager just 6 months after joining the team. “Suzy’s impact on our practice has been nothing short of phenomenal. Transitioning Suzy into a practice management role was the best thing that we ever did. It has absolutely changed the complexity of our practice,” said practice owner Brad Deckard in the release.1
While working at Pets R Family, Berry applied for the practice to be admitted in the SkillBridge program—a Department of Defense program that connects active-duty service members with private and public sector organizations that offer internship opportunities to build their resume, explore employment interests, develop job skills and gain valuable work experience that will help them prepare for their adjustment to the workplace. And according to the release, Pets R Family became the first veterinary practice accepted into the SkillBridge program.
“Not only are we creating an opportunity for these service members to transition this training into a career, but now, we’re feeding back into the veterinary industry,” said Berry.1
Berry also made it her mission to improve the workplace culture at Pets R Family. She started hosting a monthly “Coffee Talk,” which was an open forum that gave employees access to Berry’s undivided attention for 1 hour to discuss whatever topics they would like to in confidence.
“Responsibilities are getting handled without my involvement. When you’re a practice of our size, you’ve got to have the person in place to do that, and that, to me, is one of the keys that Suzy has brought to the table,” said Deckard.
“You have got to talk to your staff; your people are your most valuable asset out of any piece of equipment in your building. I was passionate about the same things when I was in a different field, but my people have always been the heart of soul of everything that I do,” said Berry.1
2023 Practice Manager of the Year: Suzanna Berry. News release. Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. June 14, 2023.