A testimony to the value of hiring technicians (Sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health)

At this practice, technicians are more than a concept
Dec 01, 2008


Dr. Richard Markell (middle) has benefitted greatly from having technicians Tara Allen (left) and Denise Schlieder (right) on staff.
Richard Markell, DVM, BS, owner of Ranch & Coast Equine Practice in Encinitas, Calif., was skeptical about bringing a technician on board. So much so that he spent the first 17 years of his career without one. But now, six years after hiring his first technician, Dr. Markell says he wishes he would have hired one long ago. "Sometimes it's hard to look back, he says, "because then I might start thinking about how much money I would've made with a technician. And the value of feeling better, being less tired, and having more time at the end of the day with my family is immeasurable. Without question, hiring a technician has been the most profitable thing that I've ever invested in."

Old school

Part of a generation of equine practitioners with a do-it-yourself attitude, Dr. Markell says it wasn't in his nature to have a technician around. "I had that old-school mentality that technicians were nothing more than an extra expense," he says. "And that was also before we had all this equipment to set up and take down. On top of that I was thinking, 'Wow, that would be weird having someone else sitting next to me in this tiny truck for eight to 14 hours a day.'"

Markell says, like Japanese food, you don't know how great something is until you try it. In 2002, he hired Andrea Shepley, a licensed technician from Canada who had been taking care of horses in a traveling equestrian show. The two agreed to work together on a trial basis to determine whether forming a permanent team would be beneficial to his practice. Dr. Markell says it was more than worthwhile—so much that he now has two technicians working under him. Tara Allen, BS, and Denise Schlieder, BS, are both members of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). "On the rare day they can't come with me, I go crazy," he says. "I get home a lot later, have less time with my family, and I don't perform as many services as I would with them there. For instance, before, if I saw a lump on a patient's back, I might suggest just watching it for a couple of weeks if it is not better. Now I'll say, 'Lets take a look with the ultrasound and be sure.' Because the technician saves me time I practice better medicine, I'm a better doctor, it's more profitable, and I've done a better job for my client—all before five o'clock."

True value

Dr. Markell says that while you can't expect a technician to double your profit, you can expect them to add value to your business and your life. "I run my practice by this paradigm—it doesn't matter what something costs, it matters what the value of it is," he says. "My technicians have proven time and time again to be my biggest assets. They've given me better quality of life and added revenue to my bottom line. I wish I would have had them sooner."