Americans are comfortable showing up at a walk-in clinics or a drugstore health kiosk to receive medical services from a nondoctor.
Some veterinary practices are making the same concept work with technician appointments.
For the past nine years, when a patient at Silver Creek Animal Clinic in Silverton, Ore., has needed a routine recheck or
simple procedure that a technician can handle, a technician has handled it. These appointments free up doctors for more complicated
cases—and if a doctor is needed, he or she can be called in.
Here are four reasons technician appointments could work for you.
1 THEY HELP PATIENTS
Doctors aren't the only ones who can uncover problems. In fact, the extra time or attention a patient may receive during a
technician appointment can lead to discoveries that can be passed onto the veterinarian.
"At our practice, it's the rule rather than the exception that a technician appointment uncovers other concerns: heart murmurs,
skin problems, dental disease, you name it," says Silver Creek's practice manager, Kyle Palmer, CVT.
Of course, technicians will consult a doctor about findings and avoid diagnostic conversations with clients. Visit
http://dvm360.com/technicianappointments for Palmer's protocol on when and how to transition a technician appointment to a doctor appointment.
2 THEY SERVE CLIENTS
Technician appointments can solve the problem of round-the-clock patient drop-offs for routine procedures. Instead of telling
clients to bring pets any old time, set up appointments for technicians to handle this intake process. Technician appointments
can also help prevent those situations when clients are stranded in the waiting area because busy back-room duties prevent
someone from getting to a patient immediately. Because technician appointments are cheaper than doctor visits, clients also
Clients at Clairmont Animal Hospital in Decatur, Ga., love technician appointments, says veterinary technician Julie Sontag,
AAT, RVT. "Clients don't have to wait, and they like the face-to-face interaction," Sontag says. "They feel they're being
taken care of."
3 THEY INSPIRE TECHNICIANS
Handling appointments allows technicians to sharpen their skills, which can improve staff retention. "Early on in my career,
technicians were just another set of hands for the doctors," Palmer says. "I can assure you that if the role hadn't evolved,
I would've left the field quickly." Technician appointments can show both team members and clients that every employee at
the practice is skilled and valued.
4 THEY INCREASE REVENUE
While Nancy Potter, practice manager at Olathe Animal Hospital in Olathe, Kan., hasn't run the numbers, she can guarantee
the practice earns more revenue with technician appointments. Before, doctors were booked for every appointment, even if a
technician would be handling most or all of the work. These appointments left doctors idle. Now everyone's busy. "During the
same time that technicians are seeing patients, the doctors also have a full schedule of appointments. So we generate income
from doctors' and technicians' time," Potter says.
If you like the idea of doubling appointments without doubling doctor workload, technician appointments may be your next big
For resources on implementing this service, check out a recent article from our sister magazine Firstline at