I have always been interested in veterinary regulations and how we may determine fair and balanced practices that are both ethically acceptable and financially feasible. I was attracted to AAHA because I felt that understanding how standards are developed and implemented would be a wonderful way to learn more about how to manage clinics on a private, state, and national scale. Therefore, after I completed my term as the Cornell AAHA Team Leader, I pursued an externship at AAHA's headquarters to investigate this interest further. I returned with more knowledge and inspiration than I could ever have imagined.

I was welcomed to headquarters by Stith Keiser, the business manager of the AAHA Career Development Program and My Veterinary Career. Stith had helped me to organize the experience, and he was kind enough to show me around the building and introduce me to various members of the team. I noticed immediately that each individual was extremely open to my presence, and this welcome was extended throughout my entire time with AAHA. Later that day, I met one-on-one with Debbie Gadomski, national field operations manager. Amongst other things, we discussed the history of accreditation; the process of accreditation; differences between mandatory and variable standards; and challenges associated with generating standards in locations with varying economies, cultures, and those beyond our borders. Toward the end of our meeting, Ms. Gadomski invited the entire in-house accreditation team to join us, and never have I been surrounded by a kinder group of individuals. Everyone was eager to share experiences, and I began to learn that AAHA was much more than an accreditation program, but it was a group of people driven to assist and educate the veterinary profession in any way possible.

The most valuable aspect of my experience was attending three separate accreditation visits with Laurie Miller, the practice consultant of the region. I was able to directly observe the accreditation process, become familiar with the details of the Standards, meet the practices' teams and hear their questions and concerns, as well as see what kinds of recommendations the practice consultants offer members. Although I was already expecting an in-depth process, I was surprised at the amount of time spent discussing methods to improve the practice and patient care that were completely unrelated to filling standard criteria. Topics of discussion included marketing strategies, analyzing financial statistical data from years past to determine direction for the future, and ways to improve patient care while simultaneously increasing profit. Additionally, it was clear that many of the standards were driven solely by doing what is best for the patient, and although practice consultants were constantly striving to better the financial situation of their clinics, patient care was always first and foremost.

After I rounded out my experience by meeting with various members of the marketing department, I was able to step back and reflect upon my new perspective. What is AAHA all about? It is more than just accreditation. It is more than proving to clients that you meet a high level of standards and are better positioned to care for their pets. AAHA is about communication and education. It is about working with others to improve the profession and not sacrificing beliefs or standards for anything in the process. I will carry this inspiration through the rest of my career, and I couldn't be more thankful.


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American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright ©2019 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us
The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright © 2014
Privacy Statement | Contact Us