A cure for the common concern

A cure for the common concern

Feb 01, 2005

As different as associates' experiences are, they generally enter practice with four concerns. Dr. Philip VanVranken, the managing partner at Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic, a seven-doctor practice in Battle Creek, Mich., offers his insight from 30 years of experience and provides some quick mentoring. Here are his answers to four common questions.

Will I ever become confident in my knowledge? Given time, your confidence will build. However, veterinary medicine can be very humbling. If you practice for 40 years, you'll learn something you didn't know in your 39th year. Some cautions from my experience: Remember to treat diseases, not symptoms. And keep in mind, your patients don't read Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XIII, so you can't expect everything to present itself in classical textbook form.

How many mistakes am I going to make? My feeling is that mistakes are made when doctors, through a combination of lack of experience and failure to consult with fellow staff members (doctors and technicians), make an inappropriate choice. If you exhaust every resource and the case doesn't go your way, then it probably doesn't constitute a mistake. My advice: Go home and spend a few minutes each night reading about one difficult case you saw that day. After a few years, you'll have read about almost every disease.

Will staff members respect me even though I'm a new graduate? New graduates get staff members' respect if they conduct themselves in a manner that deserves it. To stay on team members' good side, obey these rules:

  • Be polite and courteous to staff members. (In other words, use all those courteous phrases you know, including please, thank you, and good job.)
  • Put the patient first. When you do this, I think you'll find staff members cheering you on. They know the old geezers are resilient and can persevere through losing streaks, whereas losing streaks are much more difficult for new graduates to endure.

Will clients have confidence in me? Clients love doctors who try hard to resolve their pets' illnesses. To show you're that kind of practitioner, you need to communicate in person and through handouts, phone calls, and follow-ups or rechecks. Clients really respect follow-ups.

If you were thinking about a patient's case last night, tell the client. And don't be ashamed to say that you did further research or asked a colleague. Clients have confidence in doctors who work with determination toward a positive outcome for their patients.

—By Katherine Bontrager, Associate Editor

Hot topics on dvm360

Follow dvm360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

For quick updates and to touch base with the editors of dvm360, Veterinary Economics, Veterinary Medicine, and Firstline, and check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Sell veterinary clients on your service

But you don't have to have butler-style service to win new clients and keep existing clients happy.

Why veterinarians should be more like a Louisiana shoeshiner

If my veterinary clients feel half as good as I did after visiting the 'Michael Jordan of shoeshines,' I'll be thrilled.

Texts from your veterinary clinic cat

If your clinic cat had a cell phone and opposable thumbs, what would he or she text you?

Learning goodbye: Veterinarians fill a void by focusing on end of life care

Veterinarians dedicating their careers to hospice and euthansia medicine may be pioneering the profession's next specialty—at clients' request.