Eddie is my adorable 3-year-old cat. At home, he's full of sunshine and charm. During trips to the doctor, however, he transforms
into his alternate personality, Edward Hyde—all fangs, claws, and unholy terror. My veterinarian, Dr. Tami Shearer, isn't
sure exactly what sets him off—perhaps confinement in the carrier, the ride in the car, the strange smells and noises, or
the people he doesn't see often—but Eddie and I both appreciate the practice's efforts to maintain a safe, calm environment.
This includes keeping Dr. Shearer and her staff safe. If Mr. Hyde isn't cooperating, we go home.
In our frenetic, 24/7 society, we're on the go, tuned in, plugged in, constantly trying to do more in less time, and often
just plain maxed out. The environment that surrounds us affects how well we do (or don't) handle everything we're trying to
accomplish. And our pets feel the effects too. Anything in the sensory realm can upset them—strange smells, changes in routine,
exposure to new things, and noise.
Author Denise Tumblin with her split-personality cat, Eddie.
In Benchmarks 2007: A Study of Well-Managed Practices conducted by Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates and Veterinary Economics, we set out to identify how top practices ensure a harmonious, healing environment for pets and people—and how those efforts
translate into financial success. We found that these practices begin by defining and communicating their core values—the
foundation that allows them to thrive and prosper. Key elements are respect, compassion, professionalism, integrity, and accountability.
Once you commit to these foundational values, you can build a successful practice, the components of which include:
The bottom line
- a high medical standard of care for your patients
- a high financial standard of care for your business
- a commitment to the people who help you accomplish your goals for your practice.
Furthermore, Well-Managed Practices view their client and patient relationships as a partnership for life—both for a high
quality of life and for a lifetime. To nurture this partnership, they focus on creating a positive experience—that harmonious,
healing environment again—that keeps clients coming back, visit after visit. This commitment impacts their fees, revenue,
and expenses, which we've extrapolated as benchmarks for the profession (see belove for more on "Benchmarks 2007).
Your environment starts with you
Jeanine Larson is the founder and director of Still Point Centre, a business in Columbus, Ohio, that's dedicated to helping
people "wake up" and intentionally create a life of choice rather than surviving as victims of circumstance—in other words,
choosing to take charge of their lives.
Developing a road map for success
"A veterinary practice's environment is an outward reflection of the inner state of its leadership," Larson says. "Chaos in
the environment indicates lack of leadership—inner and outer." Symptoms of this leadership vacuum can be inertia or mismanaged
time and resources. Harmony, Larson says, indicates a more balanced state of consciousness.
"It's vital for veterinarians to take the lead in managing their patients' environment," Larson continues. "As authorities
on animal care, they're responsible for educating pet owners and caregivers about the importance of a harmonious environment.
A good place to start is to be an example of what this means."
Committing to key practice values
Larson offers some basic elements to focus on in the progression toward a well-balanced, harmonious life. These include: