For Michele Drake, DVM, practicing veterinarian and owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas, California, AAHA accreditation and a longstanding dedication to providing the very best care helps set her practice apart from the competition.

There’s even a name for it: The Drake Difference.

At AAHA, we like to say our accredited hospitals are “Champions for Excellent Care,” and we urge them to publicize their accreditation using both the tools we’ve developed ( and creative ideas of their own.

Trends recently spoke with Drake about building a culture around accreditation and how her team is utilizing AAHA resources to spread the message to clients and the community.

Trends: The Drake Center became an AAHA-accredited hospital in 2005. Why was it important to you to become accredited? How has your practice benefitted from AAHA accreditation?

Michele Drake: AAHA represents the ultimate level of care and service for any veterinary hospital. That is why it’s important for us to maintain our accreditation. I also believe going through the process every three years keeps us on our toes as far as pushing ourselves to do the very best for our clients and patients.

Trends: How did you celebrate your recent reaccreditation?

MD: We had a little party after we were reaccredited to celebrate the excellent care we provide for our patients. Pizza at our hospital is always a crowd pleaser! We also posted about it on our social media channels to let our clients know.

Trends: What creative or fun ideas have you come up with to promote your accreditation, both online and within the hospital?

MD: When we celebrated our 10-year accreditation anniversary, we took the opportunity to create a video that was published on our social media channels, as well as in a monthly newsletter that is emailed to clients. It was great to not only highlight this achievement, but also use it as an opportunity to educate clients, and prospective clients, about the rigorous standards we adhere to. We also have a weekly blog that has featured our AAHA accreditation many times. 

Trends: Which tools or resources have you found to be most helpful in promoting your accreditation?

MD: The AAHA Champions Publicity Toolbox is a great resource. In addition to displaying the AAHA logo on the homepage of our website, we have also designed a combined logo that is featured on all our branded content. We also like to post AAHA’s ready-to-use Facebook wall photos and use AAHA flyers and pamphlets around the hospital to increase awareness. 

Trends: You are part of the AAHA Accredited Members Facebook group. What do you enjoy most about this online community? How has it been helpful to you?

MD: This group helps us to communicate the value of AAHA accreditation to our clients and community members. It is always a valuable resource to be able to discuss various topics amongst peers with the same level of dedication to excellence!

Trends: How do you make accreditation meaningful to your clients and staff?

MD: We like our clients to be educated on the AAHA process and also what it means to be an AAHA-accredited hospital. This helps give them an understanding of why our level of care is far superior to a vast number of competitors in our area.

Our mission is to provide the best medicine and surgery in a compassionate environment, and unsurpassed client service. When we hire new employees, we want them to have that same commitment to excellence, so it is important to us to educate them on what all of those levels of excellence are. That way, we can provide that continuum of care for all our patients. 

Trends: How does The Drake Difference help your clients understand the value of accreditation?

MD: I feel that The Drake Difference and AAHA accreditation are rather parallel in their scope and mission. By providing specific examples of the things that make our hospital different, we can give pet owners a more tangible idea of what accreditation is about.

Trends: What one new thing do you plan on doing in your practice in the next year to improve how you celebrate your accreditation?

MD: We would love to find a way to get our clients more actively involved in the celebration. We love to do social media contests, and our clients love to participate! It would be fun to do a photo submission contest in which clients describe why they choose our accredited hospital. The submissions could be featured throughout the length of the contest, and the staff could vote for their favorite. 

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