What's your role?

What's your role?

Exceptional patient care is up to you, no matter your position.
Apr 01, 2009


Listen to clients. Patient care begins and ends at the front desk. From the client's initial phone call to your follow-up e-mail, you set the tone. "At the front desk in particular, we get in the bad habit of 'diagnosing' the patient after hearing the first one or two symptoms," says Rachael Hume, receptionist at Southway Animal Clinic in Lewiston, Idaho, and Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member. "We tune out the rest because we 'know' what's going on." But when that happens, you could tell an owner his dog has a bladder infection when it's really going into labor—true story! So ask questions and get the complete picture because clients are your key to communicating with patients.

Technicians and assistants

Pursue your passion. Patient care grows most when you enjoy what you're doing. A happy team provides better service to the patient and client. So go ahead and take over tasks you naturally gravitate toward. For instance, if you enjoy telling a concerned pet owner that Snuggles is making a fast recovery from surgery, investigate becoming a surgery patient care liaison. Are you a bit of a germaphobe? Embrace your inner neat freak by offering to periodically culture cages to ensure patients aren't exposed to nonscominal infections.

Practice managers

Champion CE. Keep your team up to date on the ever-evolving veterinary field by providing staff training, says Pamela Stevenson, CVPM, management consultant and owner of Veterinary Results Management in Durham, N.C. Contact a local veterinary specialty hospital and invite experts in different fields to lecture or present a wet lab. Or, if you're qualified, lead CE yourself.

Research and share trends and techniques with co-workers as you come across them, and encourage others to do the same. For example, did you hear about a new pain drug at a seminar? Tell your team about it. Did someone just read a new way to wrap catheters that he or she thinks is more efficient? Suggest that he or she hold a demonstration for the staff.


Delegate. "Doctors should diagnose, prescribe, and cut," Stevenson says. If your doctor is spending a significant amount of time on patient care, suggest ways that you could take the lead and free him or her up for more examinations and procedures.