A Road Map To The Future Of Small Animal Practice?

A Road Map To The Future OF Small Animal Practice?

The biggest hurdle to achieving the points outlined below is time. Meetings have a habit of being side-lined at the slightest hint that “we are too busy” and we fall into the mindset that meetings are not important with the result that we do not have the opportunity to discuss our concerns, learn from others, gather evidence that our treatments are successful. This increases the feeling of isolation and non-support that some feel, it allows anxieties and frustrations to build and eventually erupt in an inappropriate, and often detrimental, way. We become set in our ways, living by the mantra “it has always been done this way, and it always will”. 

This is a recipe for stagnation, boredom, frustration and dissatisfaction, all of which are prevalent in the veterinary profession at the present time. At least the profession is now talking more openly about the difficulties it is facing, I see little or no changes happening at the practice level to address them. At the risk of joining the current bandwagon, I suggest that we need a “roadmap” to outline the steps we need to take to reach a better place.

What is required?

An open and curious mind and a willingness to learn and to grow both individually and as a profession.

A workflow that includes;

  • Realistic consultation times to allow full examination of the patient and discussion of findings and treatment plans with owners.
  • Realistic allowance of time for in-patient procedures.
  • A 10-minute meeting when all staff have arrived for their shifts to keep everyone updated on what is happening today in the practice and who is responsible for what.
  • Mentoring with scheduled, regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress and areas of development.
  • Time allowed to call owners with updates of treatment and investigation findings
  • Mandatory breaks through the day.
  • Scheduled time for practice meetings which need to include the following;
    • A review of the last meeting including progress on any actions agreed on.
    • Clinical audits in which what has worked well and what has not, and what can be learned.
    • Discussion of any significant events in a “no blame environment” (to encourage an honest discussion of any difficulties that any team member is having).
    • Implementing, reviewing and modifying protocols.
    • Discussion of client feedback.
    • Agreement on actions required and assigning responsibility of these actions to the appropriate staff member. 

There is no doubt that there are costs in time and resources to achieve this. To attain success, it is vital that meetings are scheduled and that they are structured as detailed above. We must be realistic that we are not going to achieve attendance by all members of staff at all meetings, but with proper minuting of the meetings, all staff can be kept up to date and involved in the growth of the practice. And it is the resulting growth and development of the staff and the practice that will improve the clinical are of patients, communication and support of staff members and clients alike.

In my next article I will look at the structure of clinical meetings and the resources that are available to help with clinical audits.

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