It's OK to give it away

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Jun 01, 2008


Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA
Practicing attorneys in Florida are required to complete a few hours of pro bono work every year to maintain a favorable bar status—and it's excellent PR for their profession. Giving their services away, even if it's only to help family and friends who can't afford their services otherwise, makes them look better in the eyes of the common folk. Veterinarians don't have similar requirements, but we should follow the legal profession's lead on publicly documenting freebies.

If we keep track of our gifts, we'll feel less taken advantage of when clients abscond before paying their bills, more satisfied with ourselves and our daily work, and far more likely to take pride in how much we contribute to helping people and pets in need. And doing this doesn't require that we actually do anything we aren't doing already.

Veterinarians enjoy a better reputation than lawyers despite our failure to report on our daily right doings. Still, proper accounting of free services rendered makes for excellent business when the tax man comes around and great PR for the profession—especially when critics assert that we only care about making money.

Sure, it's ultimately self-serving, as it is for the legal profession. But after years of giving it all away with only our personal satisfaction as a reward, it's time we looked to the pros and learned to extract a bigger bang for our freebie buck.

Dr. Patty Khuly, MBA, is an associate at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami Beach, Fla.