A technical revolution (Sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health)
In a world where time is money and the demand for high-quality healthcare is paramount, certified equine technicians use efficiency strategies and innovation to stretch the clock and boost the equine practitioner's ability to provide the best care possible. Deborah Reeder, RVT, executive director and former president of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT), gives a brief overview of how profit building and enhanced practice management skills are just a few of the power tools technicians bring to the equine practice.
Equine practitioners spend all day running around the office or the countryside, trying to do what they do best—diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication. But many equine practitioners still try to one-man-band the multitude of tasks that come between performing procedures and talking to clients. For solo ambulatory practitioners, the time it takes to treat a patient can be equivalent to the time it takes to make calls, create invoices, take notes, and unload equipment. At the office, they devote half their time to laboratory work, radiographs, ultrasounds, and shockwave procedures.Reeder says some equine practitioners think that hiring a technician would cost them money. However, she says that when the technician takes care of all the in-between tasks, the practitioner has extra time to treat more patients—and make more money.
"In the field, the technician can drive, or they can take notes and make calls if the practitioner drives," she says. "They can haul the equipment and restock products while the doctor talks to the client. At the office, the technician can be prepping patients, taking radiographs, or running laboratory tests, so the practitioner can concentrate on diagnosing patients and performing procedures. He could have three appointments running at the same time."
But that's not all. "If the technician's efforts can allow for just two additional appointments a day, you'll not only make up for the technician's wages, but you'll see an increase in your profit margin," Reeder says.
The right hands
Practicing good medicine is a full-time job. To that end, Reeder says technicians can lighten the practice management load on doctors by taking proverbial ownership of how the practice operates. "Beyond doing the laboratory work, processing radiographs, setting up for surgery, running anesthesia, and helping with recovery, technicians can oversee departments and take responsibility for invoicing and data entry. We need to be the ones that think of ways to improve the management aspects of the practice. Practitioners don't have time to worry about it because they're too busy running from appointment to appointment."
Even though the technician is the practitioner's right hand, Reeder says there should never be any confusion about the role technicians play in the practice. "We're there not only as part of the medical team, but also to assist with the practitioner's business objectives," she says. "It's a partnership, and I don't mean a financial partnership. We are partners in building the practice to the benefit of the clients and patients."
A reformation in education
Reeder says a lack of equine-specific educational opportunities are another reason why equine practitioners shy away from hiring a technician. One of the AAEVT's goals is to give all equine technicians the educational tools to maximize their technical skills while enhancing their skills as assistants and practice managers. The association established 18-month online equine certification programs for both assistants and technicians to take independently. The association also offers wet labs and CE courses. Log on to http://www.aaevt.org/ to view a list of upcoming educational events, job opportunities, articles, and more.