6 ways any veterinarian can rock the exam room—and beyond

6 ways any veterinarian can rock the exam room—and beyond

Every veterinary associate should be practicing these tips—and every practice owner should make sure they're getting done.
Apr 01, 2014

Being an associate veterinarian (especially for a recent graduate) can be stressful. You may be concerned you're not efficient enough—you spend too much time on surgeries, you don't communicate well enough with clients or you aren't conducting the right diagnostic tests on patients.

Your other big worry is probably paying off school loans. The loan repayments we face are at an all-time high, and every year they get bigger. That means young veterinarians are often looking for ways to increase gross production—the only way they can guarantee a possible raise, a year-end bonus or a big golden egg of production-based pay.

Here are a few ways I increase my gross production. Some of them are extremely common, but you might be missing other chances to boost both patient health and production.

1 Offer educational handouts

Whether you create one or snag one from a manufacturer, a veterinary association or a website like http://dvm360.com/, the best handouts give brief descriptions of conditions diagnosed and treatment plans involved.

As veterinarians, we can spend an hour in the exam room explaining our diagnostic findings and the disease process to the client in full detail, but the client will still likely leave the room with questions—and a little confused. Handouts mean more to the client than we could ever imagine because having that knowledge educates and empowers them. Handouts also allow us veterinarians to save time and remain efficient in the workplace. Here are some examples:

> If I'm diagnosing diabetes or another condition that needs immediate treatment, I explain what the treatment does and how to administer it right then and there.

> For all chronic diseases, I send my clients home with a handout that covers the long-term estimated cost of treating the condition.

> When I diagnose a patient with a treatable condition in which the initiation of treatment can be slightly delayed (e.g., heartworm disease, or patellar luxation), I briefly discuss with the client what's going on and treatment options. I send the him or her home with a handout to look over. I'll make another appointment (phone or in-person) with the same client one or two days after the initial appointment so we can discuss the issue in detail, answer questions and initiate treatment.

2 Give clinic tours

If you're allowed, offering clinic tours to clients is a great business builder and works wonders for the doctor-client-patient relationship. At our office, our manager usually conducts the tour. We begin by showing clients the treatment area, where pets are taken to collect diagnostic samples. Seeing this for themselves makes clients feel more comfortable when it's time for pets to be brought to the treatment area (not "the back"—I hate that term) for blood or fecal samples or radiographs.

Then we show the kennel area, the surgical recovery area, the hospitalization area and ICU. Clients tend to feel better when they've seen exactly where pets are being treated.

Because of these tours, we've not only seen client benefits but also an increase in business—for example, when people are shown the kennels, they find out we offer boarding at our clinic and they're more likely to bring pets in to us next time they go on vacation.