This is a compilation of ideas I've had or seen in practices that I think are great and would like to incorporate into my own future practice. If you have any feedback or ideas, let me know! (click "contact" in the menu bar). Please feel free to use my ideas in your own practice!
For the clinic/hospital
White or light colored towels/blankets only-- blood, vomit, urine and poop are most easily visible against white.
Exam rooms having a window wall into Treatment. This allows pets to be able to see their owner, which can help them be calmer. It also removes the mystery of what happens when the pet goes to "the back". Pull-down screens are present on either side to provide privacy when necessary.
Have some 7AM appointment slots to cater to people who need to schedule appointments for before their workday starts.
Some dog stalls and cat-carrier shelves in reception to separate excitable animals in the lobby and make it easier on the owners in the lobby to pay, wait, etc.
Veterinary medical textbooks in the reception room and/or in the exam room; basically they should be visible to clients and even available for them to read to help trigger subconscious respect and understanding of the amount of education vets have, and hopefully will influence client compliance.
White board and dry erase markers in every exam room, in case it will help illustrate a concept to client
Weight loss report cards for clients with overweight pets. Keeps data on weight, amount fed, calories fed, physical activities. It's fun for the owner and can be brought in as an easy tracker that they should bring in to the office to update us. The client can bring the pet in every month and they can get a cool prize for pre-determined weight-loss goals/checkpoints (e.g. 50% of desired weight lost; 100% of desired weight lost). Possibly prizes can be chosen from: 1 month of free prevention, free TNT, free pet shampoo, free ear cleaning, free bag of dog food, $ gift card to a brewery, gym, or restaurant I'm friends with.
Have baby scales to rent or sell to clients with fat cats or fat small dogs so that they can do weight tracking more easily at home.
Clear plastic wall shelving for supplies for easy identification, organization, & access, instead of in drawers.
Towels of various sizes should be present in each room (exam, treatment, and imaging).
Yoga mats in each room (exam rooms, treatment room, imaging room) for floor/table padding/grip (disinfect between uses). Super useful so dog doesn't slip around on the floor during restraint.
Binder with color photos of exactly what goes in my surgery packs so less experienced techs can easily make packs.
A baby food jar (reusable and washable) containing small treats should be given to the owner at the start of EACH dog appointment, and the vet and techs should carry a treat satchel with them at all times. 1 baby food jar of catnip pellets and 1 of cat treats should be used for. 1 puff of Feliway spray should be sprayed in the CAT ONLY exam room at the beginning of the day and at the middle of the day. Or maybe at the beginning of any cat appointment. Spray cheese and tongue depressors should also be in the exam and treatment rooms for use with cats and dogs.
Separated reception areas for dogs and cats; separate dog and cat exam rooms.
Halloween goody/treat bag for pets in costume for the week of Halloween / OR goody bag for pets who have appointments on Halloween.
Secluded outdoor area for euthanasia ONLY that is absolutely beautifully planted with shrubs, trees, and flowers with a small grassy space and maybe even a small fountain or pond with fish and pond reeds/flowers.
Work with an architect who specializes in veterinary architecture when designing the clinic.
Candle in the reception area that gets lit when a pet is being euthanized to honor the pet and remind people to be conscientious/respectful/quieter.
A separate exit for clients who have had their pet euthanized so that they don't have to walk in the lobby past other clients with live animals.
Offer 2-hour Consultation visit (end of life planning) as a service; charge appropriately; hire someone to specialize in EOL care; e.g. 50% hospice/euth specialized care and 50% other general clinical medicine ALSO a well trained RVT to be their assistant doing 50/50 hospice-euth/general clinic.
Have a KID BOX in every room and in the lobby containing art supplies, stickers, stamps, etc. to keep them occupied during appointments. Also have a special box for kids present at euthanasia appointments, to help the kid ritualize the loss of the pet e.g. with cards to write a loving good-bye letter to your pet)
For euthanasia, Offer premium aftercare: some clients desire only the best care; others just want you to take the body away. Learning what your client needs is important for their mental health and grieving process.
Write a 1-year card in advance and send it 1 year after the death
An option for the owner to donate to a local animal shelter, rescue, university veterinary teaching hospital, etc. in honor of the pet
Basket and blanket for cat euthanasia, comfort and calm emphasized, also is perceived as more caring by the owner. People's last sight of their pet stays with them forever.
Offer professional resources for grieving clients such as local grief counselors who are specialized in pet loss support.
Indoor runs with outdoor patios for kennel dogs; with a larger outdoor play area for exercise and socialization. Or maybe even build a dog park that can be open to the public if property is big enough.
Online portal where staff and clients can access their profiles.
Staff: Login to view your employee profile, timesheet, benefits, and more.
Pet Owners: Login to view your profile, including your pet's information, appointment history, and medical records, and to communicate electronically with your veterinarian. Appointments can be made by calling our office at (...)
Fish tank and other cool pets in the lobby, beautiful aquariums and terrariums embedded into the walls going down the hallway (cleaning access from the back).
Increase owner compliance for flea/tick/heartworm prevention by:
Autosubscription- you buy a 6 or 12-month plan and we will send you one dose by mail monthly. Plan includes your choice of prevention product (that we already carry), shipping, and service. Autosubscrition and reminder club should be headed by a motivated staff member. Position is called "Current Position (e.g. vet tech, receptionist, associate veterinarian) - Parasite Prevention club coordinator"
Reminder club - automated text message, phone call, email, or postcard (pick 1-2 methods)
Bring your pet in any time and we will apply the medication for you or teach you/family members the proper way to apply it, free of charge.
Monthly subscription box-o-goodies with a variety of samples, toys, etc. (like BarkBox, but tailored for our clients). One or several interested staff members will head this project. Position is called "Vet Tech - Box-O-Goodies Coordinator".
An awesome lobby
Stalls and shelves for putting dogs and cats while client is paying up front, also to prevent nose-to-nose contact between patients to reduce stress for both the patients and clients.
Pioneer standing radiographs for big dogs - build a restraint setup, write a reference book, and other publications.
Utilize sedation and sandbags for radiographs like the VMTH does in the radiology service to minimize the amount of time personell spend in the radiation zone.
Use a third party/ practice consultant to assist when choosing a practice to purchase.
Open a diagnostic lab for other clinics to send in tests to (Dx labs make 15% profit while GP veterinary practice runs on 10% profit)
Offer urine cultures in-house and Abx specifity tests; small incubator, plates, agar/growth media, Abx rings. can bring in a decent amount of $ and decrease antimicrobial resistance.
Consider a check in counter and a check out counter (or simply multiple counters) to make it more efficient/timely for clients /less waiting in line
Outdoor exam room- for dogs that are too nervous or have difficulty walking
For an awesome team
Create a professional development plan with ALL new hires (regardless of position) that both of us can access at any time
Have a "Coach" come in periodically (e.g. an older/seasoned DVM role model for me; a seasoned RVT coach for the technical staff) to stay for a full day and evaluate staff and the general clinic operations- I want constructive feedback.
Staff does personal evals (eval 360?) and surveys every 6 months for self and team improvement (and for me to evaluate who are thriving at my clinic and who are not and why)
Accept tech and DVM applications on a rolling basis, even if you're not looking to hire right now (applicants will be made aware of this.) Keep resumes of quality applicants and toss resumes of sub-par applicants. Don't wait until you're desperate to to hire someone or else you'll end up with a small pool of applicants of mixed quality. With a stack of resumes of high-quality applicants, I'll always be able to call someone who I've already pre-screened and offer them an interview at the time we have an opening. Additionally, this means we will rarely ever be short-staffed in the event that someone decides to stop working.
Daily Rounds where everybody is involved- techs, DVMs, receptionists, pre-vet interns
Once every two months, a different staffmember gets a paid day to shadow/help out at another clinic. (or, each staff member gets this opportunity once a year; they can help seek out other clinics that want to participate in the exchange). The staffmember gives a short presentation about how we can improve based on what went well and even better yet at the other clinic to the rest of the staff.
We should allow the same for other clinics' vet techs so they can learn from us too!
MBTI event for all staff with a guest speaker to provide assistance with interpretation.
Other annual team bonding activities e.g. ropes course, camping trip, horseback trail rides, yacht party, group art, see a Broadway show together, etc.
Binder with color photos of exactly what goes in packs so less experienced techs can easily make packs.
Monthly "show me what you got/hot seat" random drawing with guaranteed prize, but you have to demo something (or learn something new) for the whole team first. Everyone will be watching and able to offer their own perspective or method so that we can all learn from each other. The person in the hot seat will get the prize no matter what, of course.
e.g., Show me how you wrap this surgery pack. Tell me one thing you do to make clients feel more welcome/calm/trusting. What would you do in this ___ situation/scenario? Let's review the mechanisms of EDTA, heparin, and citrate anticoagulants. For an associate- tell me how diabetes works. Now explain it to me as you would explain it to a client.
Above and beyond appreciation. Someone cleaned the storage closet? Trimmed the hedges outside the clinic? Dealt particularly well with a really emotional or angry client? I will notice that (or, you can come to me and show me what you did) and reward that person for their initiative quietly (not in front of all the rest of the staff). You get to pick something (blindly) out of the "above and beyond" appreciation prize box which includes things like gift cards, personal care products, yummy treats, magazine subscriptions, beer/wine/liquor, movie passes, museum passes, dog or cat necklace, restaurant gift cards/vouchers, etc. These must not be lame prizes, should be of variable monetary value, and should be a personal reward, not something that could be used on someone else such as their child or pet.
Specific scrub colors for DVM and non-DVM with "fun fridays" where you can wear a fun scrub top (but pants need to be the specified color).
Actually keep track of the little and big positive things I observe in my staff and make sure to appreciate them in a variety of ways on a regular basis.
Annual gym membership/ gym membership voucher for techs/staff. OR monthly wellness credit - I will reimburse you for up to $X for a wellness activity such as a massage, purchase of a yoga mat, use for counseling/therapy appointments, etc. Bring in your receipt and I will reimburse. You can use it monthly or save up credits to buy something like a gym membership.
Celebrate 6 months employment for vet tech with company Zip-up sweater
Waist aprons for vet techs embroidered with their name after 1 year of employment.
After 2 years of employment, pair of scrubs embroidered with name of vet tech
After 5 years, Tahoe vacation with a +1
After 10 years, cruise vacation with a +1
recognition of staffmembers birthdays
Comfortable breakroom/ lounge area with non-medical fridge, nice couches, magazines/books, closet with spare scrub tops, cubbies or lockers for personal belongings, couches, table, microwave, nice dishes and silverware (not junky or disposable ones).
Community: Educating pet owners & Improving the public perception of veterinary medicine
Store my veterinary textbooks on a bookshelf in the lobby, or somewhere where clients can see them. I believe this reinforces how hard-core veterinary medical school is and can subconsciously increase people's respect for and trust in veterinary doctors and technicians, as well as increase compliance.
Recruiting client idea- send postcards/provide flyers to NEW MOVERS into the community- by making friends with real estate agents and they can advertise to new movers.
I prefer to call an office visit a "Medical consult" on the receipt. I think it's important to choose words carefully if we want to represent vet med as medical professionals with the same intensity in training as human doctors. It matters a lot to me that clients/general public should understand and value the training and capabilities of a DVM. I also see a distinction between an office visit/medical consult and a full physical exam, which may certainly be a part of the medical consult, but not always. Unfortunately, from my experience as a client, many clinics don't actually do a complete physical but charge on the receipt as a 'complete physical exam' . I thinks this warps what the client understands to be a Physical Exam. I prefer to be more specific, and personally feel this builds trust, respect, and is educational for the client.
Monthly dinner talks by DVM or RVT (or other professional) covering a variety of different topics. RSVP required for first servings at dinner. If not enough people sign up for dinner, then we'll have a smaller scale chat at a local coffee shop.
Missed a talk? Download a podcast of previous talks. Have a topic you would like one of our staff to cover? Let us know here (...)
Ideas: Blood types in cats and dogs; Relationship between human and animal medicine; What is Cancer; Flea and Tick borne diseases; Zoonotic diseases; Pet nutrition and pet food labels;
Local and global involvement
Pre-Vet summer internship: An intensive summer internship experience for pre-veterinary students. Interns will learn all aspects of the companion animal veterinary practice from reception to assisting to diagnostics to boarding and more. Interns are required to create and complete a project relating to any aspect of veterinary medicine by the end of the internship. This internship is a 40 hr/week job and is paid the legal minimum wage. Please note: this internship is intended for a student who is certain in their goal of pursuing veterinary medicine and has already had some animal or veterinary experience. Please stop by the clinic to pick up an application or email us at ...
Shadowing: Dr. Othman is happy to answer questions about what it's like to be a veterinarian and how to become one. She welcomes students to shadow her as her schedule allows. She has enjoyed mentoring pre-vets ever since she was a pre-vet herself. The shadowing opportunity is open to pre-vet students, pre-RVT students, as well as students that are thinking about pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, but are not sure yet. Shadowing is a great way to learn about the veterinary profession, learn some basic veterinary assisting skills, and observe some complex veterinary procedures; however, shadowing is not a paid opportunity.
Other jobs: We employ people to serve as dog walkers and in-home pet sitters for our clients. Our walkers and sitters are held to certain standards of service, so training is required. This is an alternative to boarding at the clinic, which has benefits for the client, the clinic, and the pets themselves. In-home sitting should have slightly higher rates than boarding. Walking is its own price where the walker gets the majority of the profit. There would be reviews done by the clients of the sitter or walker featuring questions to make sure the quality of care standards are being upheld.
Temporary Foster for Pet Retention Program - This is a program I thought up in 2015 and want to apply in my Rescue if I ever get it off the ground (www.loveonpaws.weebly.com).