Parasitology: What's your role?
Dr. Jay Stewart, owner of Aumsville Animal Clinic in Aumsville, Ore., reminds you to think of Velcro when you think of your clients. Your goal is to find as many hooks as possible to make your message stick in the client’s mind. “Some clients will be more concerned about their pet’s health while others will be more focused on a new baby in the household who may be susceptible to zoonotic transmission,” he says. “So if we can find many different hooks, clients are much more likely to take action and provide parasite control in a consistent fashion.” Here’s a look at each team member’s role in educating clients about parasite control.
When the client calls, your on-hold message can promote parasite control. As clients schedule appointments, remind them to bring a fecal sample. Explain you'll use the fecal sample to test the pet for parasites. If the pet is on a parasite prevention program, you'll test the sample to make sure the program is effective.
When clients arrive for appointments, tell them the doctor may want to talk to them today about parasite control and offer parasite control literature to prepare them for the conversations they'll have with the technician and doctor in the exam room. At checkout, ask clients if they have the parasite prevention products the doctor recommended and reinforce the importance of parasite control.
Technicians and veterinary assistants
During your initial history, ask whether the client is concerned about parasites. Then mention parasite control using your practice’s standards of care to prepare them for the doctor’s recommendations.
While you may not have direct contact with clients, you have direct contact with each team member. So you can ensure everyone’s presenting the same, consistent message with clients. You may also help choose products the practice recommends, depending on your practice structure and your role.
You can also set a goal for the team to work toward. Start by determining your current success rate. Estimate the number of cats and dogs that visited your practice in the last year. Then look at how many fecal tests you ran. Let’s say that number is 200. A realistic improvement might be to complete 400 fecal exams. The average practice is open about 240 days a year, so you'll need to perform about two fecal exams a day.
You'll share the same message the technician introduced, following the guidelines from the practice’s standards of care. Then you'll introduce your personalized prevention plan for the pet and the family. All of the doctors in the practice are responsible for meeting to develop the standards of care, and you may invite representatives from the medical team, including technicians, to help create these protocols.