I make lists, always have. Lists help me prioritize what is important to me. As a part of my writing, I often publish lists to try to help others, too. Speaking of what’s important, there was moment several years ago that I realized I spend more time being a veterinarian than I do anything else in my life. Becoming a veterinarian was my childhood dream, and here I was, living it. I can remember wanting nothing else. But now, with so much time invested in this path, I found myself coming to terms with just how important it was (and still is) to have goals for myself and ensure my career is emotionally satisfying.

So, I made a list.

I listed the pros and cons of being a vet, the likes and dislikes. My mother always told me, “When you make a decision, create a list of pros and cons and make sure that the pros always outweigh the cons.”

On my list, I included things like how I love puppy breath or watching kittens play. I also included things I hate, like nail trims or dogs hiding the minute I enter the exam room. Maybe it’s silly, but having my patients fear me or having to do perform unpleasant procedures hurts my feelings and damages the bond I have with my clients, patients, and career.

If you are like me, you have taken on a significant sacrifice—financially, emotionally, and physically—to be where you are, so if you can love more aspects of it, isn't it better for you?

I decided that I wanted to make the cons list smaller and the pros list larger, so I started researching the topics. I decided that my staff could perform the nail trims exclusively. At least that piece was easy, right? But then I realized that staff dissatisfaction and turnover was another con on my list. I implemented the "vets don't do nail trims" policy, but I soon recognized that my staff hated them as much as I do. I kept my eyes open for better ways.

Enter Dr. Marty Becker. I have always enjoyed Dr. Becker's writing, so I started watching and attending any lectures I could find and following his social media channels. Soon, he started talking about Fear Free. Wow, it sounded great! As the idea came to fruition, I kept checking back. Maybe this was an answer for me. At the very least, it was worth a try.

Let's face it: When our patients love us, it's a great experience for everyone. Clients tell all their friends about how their dog or cat loves the vet. What client is going to change veterinarians when their dog drags them through your door or gets excited when they drive by?

I set a reminder in my smartphone to periodically check the Fear Free website because I felt so excited about the opportunity to whittle down my cons list.

On the eve of the Fear Free Certification Program launch, I was checking and lurking in anticipation. Fortunately for me, they launched the program just before midnight (although I was fully armed with snacks and coffee) to make sure everything was fully functional. I stayed up all night to watch and complete the modules. It is and was that important to me.

Guess what? I was right. This program has changed my practice and my life. It does work. I come out of exam rooms feeling like I just had fun with my clients and their pets. As the bearer of good things instead of bad, I have elevated my status with clients and patients alike.

My staff is empowered to tell clients that torturing pets in the interest of trimmed nails or prettier X-rays is no longer acceptable and they know I have their backs. Sure, a few have pushed back, but so far, we have been able to convince them that in the eyes of the pets, we are doing the right thing.

I believe this method is an effective way to improve well-being for your patients, your staff, and yourself. Personally, my cons list is smaller these days thanks to Fear Free.

Give it a try. You will be happy you did. A growing, engaging, and passionate Fear Free community is right here with you to support and collaborate with you so that everyone wins.

Launched in March 2016, the Fear Free Certification Program is an educational online course designed to help veterinary professionals eliminate fear, anxiety, and stress and create a more rewarding veterinary experience for all involved.

The Fear Free Certification Program consists of eight educational modules available on VetFolio and is open to all members of the veterinary team, including veterinarians, technicians, practice managers, client service representatives, and other support staff. The program also includes regularly updated CE and training courses, plus access to a rich library of Fear Free information, such as the latest Fear Free publications, podcasts, and bonus modules.

Kathryn Primm, DVM, owns and practices full time at Applebrook Animal Hospital, a one- to two-doctor practice in a small suburban area just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Primm is also an internationally known writer, speaker, and online voice for veterinarians and pet owners alike. She is the nation's first Fear Free certified professional and is a regular guest on the new Fear Free podcast series.

Learn more about the Fear Free Certification Program and register today! 

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Michael Green
Michael Green United States
7/16/2016 10:48:53 PM #


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