Practice of the Year

Why have I been so busy lately? Well, I’m always busy working 40-50 hour weeks, regardless, but I decided that on top of all of the extra things I do besides tech/assistant work, that our hospital should apply for the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Practice of the Year title. If you haven’t heard of AAHA, it is our industry’s only independent accreditation organization and the hospital I work for is accredited. AAHA hospitals voluntarily undergo regular inspections and are evaluated in literally hundreds of standards. Ok so… Practice of the Year… very detailed, time-intensive application… 7 weeks… that’s how much time we had to complete the application when I learned more about this accolade and we decided to go for it… This is the start of week three. Some of the application consists of essay-type submissions that are answers to specific questions. I want to post something I wrote for the introduction section of the application because I think it does a great job of reflecting my love for this field and some of the reasons why I stay in it and continue to find ways to grow. In one part of the introduction section you are asked to describe why your hospital is unique in 500 words or less. Since I will end this post with what I wrote, I will just add that you can expect puppy and kitten posts to finish out this week. This week will be my warm and fuzzy feeling posting week. I need to remind myself of the warm and fuzzies considering I’m constantly feeling like a grade school student who didn’t finish her book report in time except my book report is fixing a recall on my car or getting wedding invitations together. So here it goes, this is why our hospital is unique in 490 words (ps. I tried reading this to the staff at an all-hands meeting last week and had to have one of the doctors finish reading it so that I didn’t start crying):

If you were to ask every staff member at our hospital what about it they are proud of, you will get a long, varied list of answers. We are proud of our AAHA accreditation and Cat Friendly Practice certification. We are proud of the level of medicine and care we provide. We are proud of our facilities, our community, and each other.

When you ask every staff member at our hospital what makes our hospital unique, each individual will generate a singular, compelling response: our team. The importance of a veterinary hospital’s team is tremendous. Every single staff member executes our standard for care and compassion, they are a beacon for our message and recommendations, they are patient advocates, and they are, in a great sense, the establishers of each other’s quality of life. With the tremendous amount of time and energy that individuals devote to our field, we must recover and recharge somehow. Luckily, we do this by leaning on each other.

We go to great lengths to ensure that we create and maintain a cohesive and supportive team unit. Our hiring process is extensive, consisting of a handful of interviews for each candidate and ending with a review form completed by every existing team member. Aside from initial training, all team members participate in a continued education topic at bi-monthly meetings and are allotted a yearly allowance for continued education. Team outings occur quarterly each year but often times occur informally much more often than that. In the past few years, we have had the pleasure of getting together to enjoy dinners, baseball games, bowling night, game night, and pot luck thanksgivings.

Our team is exceptional in so many ways. Our doctors have visited patients in critical care at referral specialty hospitals and made themselves uncommonly available to discuss patient care to the team, clients, and other professionals. Our team members regularly send out cards on their own accord to clients to acknowledge events in their lives and in their pet’s lives. Our staff turnover is very low and the average amount of time our staff has been employed here is over 6 years. Every member is positive and supportive of one another. Every member cares deeply about pets and their people.

We are fortunate to have leaders who understand the value of utilizing the unique skills of each individual and encouraging personal growth. We have had multiple entry level staff members who are on their way to become or have become successful RVTs and doctors of veterinary medicine. If we assigned additional informal titles to our current team members, the list of titles would include party planner, storm chaser, personal chef, pet sitter, professional organizer, pet nutrition enthusiast, botanist, dog agility and training specialist, and social media expert among many others. Our hospital is only as unique as the individuals realizing its existence each and every day and what a unique hospital we do, in fact, have.

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