Dr. Woloshyn's response
I too wonder how many doctors don't know that their front desk employees are turning clients away. It would astound me if
doctors were doing this, so I suspect a lot of it is a result of poor front office monitoring.
When I consult with clinics, one of my first questions to the front office team is: "How many emergency patients do you turn
away?" Though I don't know if I ever get an accurate answer, it's an issue we address early on.
This is a conversation all doctors need to have with their front office employees. Then you need to train them how to respond
to emergencies and perform triage. You must also implement mechanisms for emergencies that don't disrupt or delay your closing
time. When you perform only necessary urgent tests and procedures and delegate to your team members, you'll be surprised by
how much you can accomplish in a few minutes.
Much denial of care occurs because providing the appropriate care would negatively affect the employees' day. We need to manage
our clinics so that additional work results in additional satisfaction, not more stress. Admitting a laceration shouldn't
mean an hour delay in going home. If it does, I'd wager that you miraculously won't ever see one after 2 p.m. To change your
team's mindset and stay on schedule, train your team in emergency procedures, and make sure everyone's cross-trained so you
can handle your regular appointments.
Are the days of compassion gone?
I was very much impressed with Dr. Woloshyn's article in Veterinary Economics. I've helped many poor people and their pets over the years and, yes, I didn't get paid to help some of them. I'm a third-generation
veterinarian, and I'm proud to say that my family has always practiced good medicine with compassion. I hate to see all the
progress the profession has made in my lifetime only to miss one major part—compassion!
—Jerald T. Waite, DVM
Dr. Woloshyn's response
Dr. Waite is of the generation that ushered modern medicine into veterinary practice, bringing it out of the guess-and-by-gosh
days into the era of science. The newer generations have reaped the benefits of his efforts, yet they're faced with challenges
that he and I will thankfully never see.
Get in touch: Want to weigh in?
Clinics are an expensive proposition nowadays. The seduction to spend money begins in veterinary school, where advanced diagnostics
are employed (as they should be), yet the balance of basic medicine is often ignored (which is a tragedy). Because practice
economics isn't taught to young doctors, once they graduate they're barraged by a torrent of expensive purchase possibilities
and inaccurate financial information from equipment manufacturers that precludes their planning for a profitable practice.
The result is that these new doctors often focus more on paying the bills than on medicine, without realizing that compassion
and income are two sides of the same coin. Those of us who spent less on starting our clinics than a current owner may spend
on one lab machine are often astounded and puzzled by the new generation's seeming inability to practice successfully, have
a personal life, and make a decent living. Yet it's a real challenge for them.