The 2 most important words in veterinary practice

The 2 most important words in veterinary practice

Take the time to say "thank you" to pets, clients and team members, and the goodness will come back around.
May 31, 2014

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Your co-workers have to show up to work and do their jobs, right? Nope. Your boss has to pay you, right? Nope. Your clients have to bring in their pets for care, right? Nope.

Well, the pets have to come—they’re at the end of the leash or in the kennel, for heaven’s sake! But have you received the I-need-to-reschedule-because-I-can’t-get-my-cat-out-from-under-the-bed phone call? Me too. The best one was when a client said, “My dog escaped out the front door. I can see him on the golf course from this window right now, but I can’t catch him.”

Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital's receptionist Jan Green created a bulletin board around Thanksgiving on which to display thank-you cards from clients.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Shawn Finch

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It’s easy for us to forget what a great fortune it is for a client to agree to meet us and pay a chunk of the family’s discretionary income to help a pet that has also dutifully showed up when he or she could be at home resting—or golfing.

And your entire team is there. We’re all being paid to show up in the middle of that extraordinary group to save or protect or enhance a life, and then, to do it again and again.

Dr. Pete Bashara, Dr. Finch’s boss and owner of Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals, makes pancakes to say “thank you” to the team.

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You are blessed beyond measure.

So, say “thank you” sincerely, and say “thank you” often. Say it verbally, and say it nonverbally.

After one of her team members was peed on four times in one day, Dr. Finch went out and bought her new socks to replace the soiled ones and to thank her for her positive attitude.

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Say it to the pets with treats, compliments, praise and petting. Give the brave ones an opportunity to show you their tricks. Give the scaredy-cats and dogs an opportunity to make as hasty an exit as possible back to the comfort of their home with quick but thorough, gentle, calm treatment.

(Check out the handy guide below for more ideas on how to say "thank you" to your team and your clients.)


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I keep a pile of assorted thank-you cards above my desk. I have all sorts of treats and a few toys for our awesome patients. I have a budget for coffee, doughnuts, coloring books and socks for my awesome team, and yet they've still outdone me in their sweet tokens of gratitude. (Thank you, friends. You are the best.)

Murphy the Bernese Mountain Dog flashes a smile and poses with the birthday card Dr. Finch’s team made for him

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Every time I ramp up my gratitude, it seems to create a spiral of kindness that always comes back around to me and always leaves things a little better than they already were. It can be the difference between peed-on socks being a day-wrecker or an odd opportunity to thank those who make this career extraordinary, which in turn reminds me again that as strange and challenging as this career is, it is truly extraordinary—and I am blessed beyond measure to be surrounded by these wonderful people and pets.

Thank you, guys. You make it all worth it.

The team gave Omaha surgical specialist Dr. David Merkley’s dog Sophie a toy to thank Dr. Merkley for doing surgery on Dr. Finch’s dog, Joy.

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