What should a mobile veterinarian know about hiring an associate?

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Audition candidates to ensure a new hire matches your practices identity and connects with clients.

Q: I'm a very busy solo mobile practitioner, and I think it might be time to bring on an associate. How do I know when I'm busy enough? And how do I bring my first associate on board?

A: If you're a "very busy solo practitioner," now is the time to start looking for an associate that fits in with your practice's philosophy and style of care. Clients expect their veterinarian to be dependable, reliable, and available at all times-this is the challenge of being mobile. As a solo mobile practitioner, you'll soon find yourself either not being able to take new clients or taking new clients and not being able to serve all your current clients' needs. A good associate is your back up and your security. If you limit your availability by not having proper coverage for you clients, clients will seek care elsewhere, no matter how much they love your bedside manner.

Photo Source: Getty ImagesDo yourself a favor and start interviewing now. Considering the nature of a mobile veterinarian/client relationship, mobile veterinarians often work shifts up to 17 hours, seven days a week. This quickly leads to compassion fatigue and problems in your personal and work lives. The right associate will be a breath of fresh air that gives your clients the coverage they deserve and lets you recharge to keep your practice invigorated.

However, don't be a control freak. Many mobile solo DVMs fear that clients won't accept the new associate. Hire an associate that has your same passion. When I interview an associate, I invite them on four appointments with me to see the flow and determine if they like mobile practice. If the veterinarian is still interested, I have them do a full day of paid work and send my best technician with them to help guide and assist with clients. I personally do callbacks the next day to see if clients were pleased. Once hired, I work alongside the new associate for a week to teach them my system of serving clients.

Dr. Lisa Aumiller owns HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. In addition to having four mobile units, she operates a hospital for clients who want traditional care.

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