10 finalists competing for Practice Manager of the Year

10 finalists competing for Practice Manager of the Year

Final winner to be picked by panel of four expert judges and announced at CVC Kansas City.
May 26, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

Next >

Many were nominated, dozens entered and now we’ve narrowed down the list to the top 10 finalists for the Veterinary Economics’ Practice Manager of the Year award, sponsored by Veterinary Pet Insurance.

They’ve been praised as great leaders, quick and collaborative decision-makers, lifelong learners and managers who keep cool in a crisis.

Click through the pages that follow to get to know each of the nominees better.


< Back  |  Next >

Shannon Alarcon
Bannock Animal Medical Center
Chubbuck, Idaho.

“Shannon goes above and beyond to make sure her staff and clients are happy and that problems are solved, not just pushed aside.” —nomination

Adapting to change
“When our practice owner decided he no longer wanted to practice veterinary medicine, his partner (another vet) was due to deliver her second child and my only other vet was a new graduate 6 months out of school. I had to adjust the doctor schedule from two part-time and one full time vet to just one full-time vet. I had to retrain my receptionists not to double-book our only doctor. I had to retrain my clients that we couldn’t get them right in like we had in the past. And I had to ensure that my new graduate didn’t burn out. I did this with the help of my team members. Without them, it would not have been possible.”

< Back  |  Next >

Sandra Bertholf
Animal Medical of New City
New City, New York

Team motivation and management
“I try to remind everyone how their actions are reflective of our mission, because too often I think we fail to make the connection. So when I see one of my nurses spending time talking softly and reassuringly to a hospitalized patient, when I see my coworkers weeping with clients over the loss of a beloved pet, when I see one of my team members looking out for the well being of another, I point it out. I think it’s important that someone be around to remind all of us that we really are trying, every day, to make pets, their owners and each other better.”

Adapting to change
“I became a manager because the practice required it of me. I’d like to take a stand for all the client care representatives, assistants, technicians and owners’ husbands and wives who’ve stepped into the lonely, difficult world of practice management because they were asked to. Because they were needed. It is a journey that has made us better women and men, has healed tens of thousands of pets and hearts, and is an unshakable keystone in our veterinary industry.”

< Back  |  Next >

Karen Cabaniss
Cleveland Park East Animal Hospital
Simpsonville, South Carolina

“Karen brings a superior level of patience to her job. She is quietly outgoing and exudes warmth. Working around her makes her coworkers want to be better.” —nomination

Lifelong learning
“The financial portion of [my CE] was eye opening. When I returned, we began a new accounting system for all three of our hospitals. Partners and managers were enthusiastic about being able to see where our hospitals were financially and excited to see our growth. I believe that after attending these programs I gained the confidence I needed to get things done by simply asking, ‘What’s going on?’ and taking the ‘Let’s fix it’ initiative.”

< Back  |  Next >

Liane Ehrich
Ventana Animal Hospital
Tucson, Arizona

“Liane’s goal in her veterinary career is to advocate for the best medicine for pets, find ways for veterinary practices to enhance their financial potential and educate pet owners. Liane takes the time to educate all pet owners who come into the building, whether they’re current clients or not. She demonstrates that if all veterinary clinics took time to educate pet owners (clients or not) while they’re in the building, it would increase the number of clients as well as the value of pet education and the physical exam.” —nomination

Team motivation and management
“When I came on board, the hospital’s financial situation was dire. The practice owner had taken enormous pay cuts and staff salaries were low. I sat down with each staff member and told them why I was there: to help them get raises and make sure that people were accountable. So we keep going back to the mantra of ‘Offer it—and if the owner says “no,” so be it, but we must offer it.” All we talked about for months was prevention and wellness care. We broke all previous revenue levels for the hospital.”

< Back  |  Next >

Shawn Gatesman
Heartland Veterinary Clinic
Harrisonburg, Virginia

Leadership and decision-making
“As we upgraded our dental services, we considered focusing our team on specialties, where doctors and veterinary technicians rotate less often and become more capable and efficient in some areas. We reviewed our goals as a practice and over several meetings with team members and department leads, we took that info and worked it into a departmentalized setup. Not only have team members thrived, but the practice has seen marked increases in services production and a level of care to go right along with it.”

Team motivation and management
“We just finished a wellness campaign. We collaborated with a reference lab to offer clients a great preventive wellness screening and exam at the best possible price. I went to work with team members to design an entire marketing strategy and incentive program for staff. Team members helped design marketing info and designs as well as handouts for clients. This really got them involved and fired up. We posted a graph and updated it daily so everyone would see how we were doing.”

< Back  |  Next >

Aan Gonsalves
Arizona Animal Wellness Center
Gilbert, Arizona

“Aan is committed to ensuring our team members have the resources they need to do what they do best, our doctors and owners are all on the same page rowing in the same direction, our clients receive excellence in customer service, and our patients receive the highest standards of veterinary care.” —nomination

Adapting to change
“We recently made the decision to involve our team in financial decisions and take ownership in our hospital, and it’s scary to open up your books up to your team and doctors. We sat down with our team and went through where we have been over the past 3 years, where we are and where we need to be to sustain and pay for our new facility and continue to offer the best veterinary care. We want everyone that we work with to feel that their contributions matter and that they are what truly carry us further to provide the most advanced compassionate veterinary care in our area.”

< Back  |  Next >

Amanda Jahn
Indian Tree Animal Hospital
Arvada, Colorado

“What’s most impressive about Amanda is her constant dedication to gaining industry knowledge at a far greater speed than other managers. Her unfaltering positive attitude and determination to incremental improvements in the hospital have made her a vital part of Indian Tree Animal Hospital.” —nomination

Lifelong learning
“I read the many sources of literature we receive at the clinic, like Veterinary Economics. I read books on management. Any information that I find useful, I share with our management team. One of the things I love the most about this position is that I get to provide quality education to clients about their pets. I learn as much as possible from the veterinarians about individual pets’ conditions. I then ask questions, from a client’s perspective, so that I can educate the client when they call or come in. This helps me to learn more about animals in general and to educate our clients, which frees up DVMs to focus on their many other tasks.”

< Back  |  Next >

Donna Recupido
Veterinary Specialty Care
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Team motivation and management
“I walked in to a team that felt used and useless. Now I frequently get thank-you cards just because of I take a few minutes to help someone. I’m motivated by the smiles on team members’ faces when cards from the ‘good job’ wall are read at team meetings. These cards are part of a program I implemented (from Veterinary Economics) where staff members recognize a job well done by a colleague and post a card on the wall for all to see.”

Lifelong learning
“Education excites me. I created a veterinary management group on Linkedin.com with several thousand members who all have so much to offer from many areas of business. I enjoy stepping outside the box of veterinary medicine to read things like Harvard Business Review. I believe the learning process is one that never ends. A book, an article or a web post can all be such valuable learning tools.”

< Back  |  Next >

Erika Valente
Levittown Animal Hospital
Levittown, New York

“Since Erika became practice manager at Levittown, I’ve seen wonderful changes in the attitudes and productivity of the staff as well as in the overall hospital organization. I’m thankful that someone with such resilience and commitment is here to maintain the highest level of service in my hospital.” —nomination

Leadership and decision-making
“In the past year, one instance in which I’ve orchestrated a big change is when I decided to keep the hospital open for an additional eight hours a week. I organized this transition to be minimally burdensome for staff, and these extra hours ultimately increased hospital revenue by 23 percent!”

< Back  |  Start >

Annette Von Stetten
Governors Avenue Animal Hospital
Dover, Delaware

“With 25 years’ experience in the management and financial fields, Annette came in and within the first year saved our practice several thousand dollars. In the last two years, she was the liaison for every aspect of our $2.8 million building project. She is currently pursuing her Certified Veterinary Practice Manager certification. We are lucky to have her.” —nomination

Team motivation and management
“I monitored all positions in the hospital for six months and spoke to each staff member to analyze their strengths. I then made changes. As an example, we had a bather with excellent people skills who was being underutilized, so I made her a client service representative. The hospital has received several compliments on her personality. I also created new duties for a technician and another client service Representative to make them team leaders. This has improved communication at the hospital.”