Teaching an old boss new tricks

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Dec 01, 2007

Introducing new drugs or procedures into your practice can be frustrating if you're an associate—and it can be especially tough if you're a recent graduate. Your boss may think the way he has always done things works fine, so why change? Here are a few tips I've learned through experience:

  • Take baby steps. I used to work at a practice that used just one opioid analgesic: butorphanol. First I petitioned the boss to add buprenorphine, emphasizing that the drug provided more long-acting analgesia, was in the same controlled substance category (so the paperwork would be the same), and was comparably priced. After a year or two, when the boss was comfortable using buprenorphine and appreciated its effects, I requested morphine.
  • Don't offend the boss. You may think it's malpractice to still be using phenylbutazone in dogs with arthritis, but don't say that. Instead show your boss unbiased reports from journals and conferences demonstrating that the newer NSAIDs are safe and effective.
  • Show that you understand the practice's financial situation. Say your practice's current anesthetic protocol for feline spays calls for intramuscular ketamine-acepromazine, but you want to start intubating patients and use isoflurane for general anesthesia. Calculate the cost to the practice to show your boss that the new protocol will be profitable.

Laura McLain Madsen is an associate at Central Valley Veterinary Hospital in South Salt Lake, Utah. Send questions or comments to