Knock your clients' socks off with compassionate care: part 2 (Proceedings)
Creating a compassionate care clinic culture means paying attention to the team dynamics. It means accepting responsibility to be as effective a team member as possible. Here are some ideas for making a difference on your practice team.
Ways to be a More Effective Team Member:
1. Become a veterinary nutritional consultant.When wellness and preventive medicine become the goal of the practice, you can add value by being able to converse knowledgeably with your clients about the nutrition. Good nutrition is the cornerstone for wellness with patients, and the most effective nutritional education program currently available is the Veterinary Nutritional Advocate (VNA) program from Hill's Pet Nutrition. It is complimentary and laid out online as a self-taught course in nutrition with testing provided along the way. Completing it will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to discuss nutrition with any client.
2. Develop a puppy/kitty kindergarten curriculum.
If your clinic has a space large enough to conduct a puppy kindergarten class, you can develop the topics for classes to be offered in the clinic. If the clinic is not large enough, find a place near the clinic to hold these classes. Talk with a trainer or with a behaviorist to get ideas for what to offer and in what sequence. There are a lot of good books out there on puppies and kittens. Offering this training can help you form close bonds with your clients while allowing you to have the fun of being with the puppies or the kittens. Get them off to the right start to help eliminate behavior problems later.
3. Create and publish a clinic newsletter.
Computers and printers make desktop publishing a cinch. Get the staff to feed you topics or to help research topics. Try it out on the staff first as a staff newsletter. Then gear one toward clients. When you are happy with the first issue, begin a second issue. Make it quarterly, monthly, or every other month. Place copies at the front desk. Place some copies at your local library.
4. Learn American Sign Language or a foreign language.
Are some of your clients deaf? Are some of their children deaf? What a joy it would be for them to have someone at the clinic sign for them—particularly at stressful times. Is English a second language for many of your clients? Learning their first language would show respect for them. Night school courses in ASL and foreign languages are offered regularly in many communities as well as online. These will broaden your cultural horizons and can be used in many facets of your life.
5. Develop wellness protocols.
Each veterinary team has specific recommendations they make regarding wellness health care, from flea management to inoculations, from heartworm prevention to when and why an ovariohysterectomy should be performed. Most clinics, however, do not have these procedures in writing. Work with the doctors and technicians to develop protocols for these wellness topics. Select topics that clients bring up most frequently on the telephone and in person. Develop these in formats that could be used as a script if you were discussing this topic with a client. You might want to provide these as client education handouts to your clients. Have the staff brainstorm to decide which topics might be covered. Your clinic's sales representatives can provide you with a wealth of brochures and booklets to give you the factual material you need. Your veterinarians can proofread each of the pieces for accuracy and appropriateness for your clinic. Get your creative juices flowing and have fun with this. Written pieces like these can save all the staff time and the handouts can reinforce what everyone says to the clients. They, in turn, can share this information with the others in their family.
6. Organize an open house.
How long has it been since your practice has had an open house? There doesn't need to be a specific occasion. Talk with some adults and children who are not directly involved with the practice and ask them what they would like to see most and to learn most about a veterinary clinic. Use those ideas in setting up the clinic for the open house. Have interesting x-rays on the viewers. Have stuffed animals set up for mock surgeries or x-raying. Collect educational handouts for your guests. Plan the refreshments. Organize some games or entertainment. Help the staff put together some educational displays. Plan for promotion of this open house. Enjoy!