Achieving AAHA accreditation is one of the most challenging, time-consuming, and satisfying goals your hospital can accomplish—but when the evaluation is over, what comes next?

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 (aaha.org/publicity) and creative ideas of their own.

For AAHA-accredited Moorpark Veterinary Hospital in Moorpark, Calif., accreditation awareness and education is a high priority. Trends recently spoke with the hospital’s client service coordinator, Rachel Irwin, to find out how she helps keep AAHA top of mind—for both clients and staff—all year round.

Trends: Moorpark Veterinary Hospital has been AAHA accredited since 2007. How did your clients respond to your decision to become accredited?

Rachel Irwin: Our clients are always appreciative and impressed when we educate them about our status as an AAHA-accredited hospital. When we first became accredited, we utilized AAHA’s publicity tools to help celebrate our accreditation and spread the word. We also sent out emails to clients. Since then, it has been a fun process of continuous evolution to find new, creative ways to incorporate AAHA education and awareness into our facilities and regular practices.   

Trends: Your practice is also up for reaccreditation this year. Are you planning anything special to celebrate?

RI: This year, our hospital will be hosting quarterly educational seminars at local venues where refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided—and our reaccreditation is the perfect time to talk about AAHA. These seminars are intended to educate clients and make doctors and staff available to them in a fun, neutral environment.

Trends: MVH has a great social media presence. What creative or fun ideas have you come up with to promote your accreditation online?

RI: I love to find ways to get clients actively involved in our social media and we have done a variety of quizzes and giveaways online. We recently began doing a monthly “get to know AAHA” quiz on Facebook where anyone can guess the answer to our question and be entered into a random drawing for a gift card to the hospital. It has definitely been successful—in fact, I’ve had a few clients tell me that they didn’t understand our accreditation until they participated in these quizzes, and it is clear that many do some online research on AAHA before answering our question. I couldn’t be happier about that.

Trends: How do you communicate your accreditation to the community?

RI: We participate in a handful of community events each year and we have made it a point to incorporate AAHA at each event. One of my favorite tools we have at community events is a custom book that one of our RVTs, Libby, designed to show off the hospital no matter where we are. Our AAHA accreditation is

Trends: How do you train your staff to talk about AAHA accreditation?

RI: We use a variety of tools to train our staff to deliver decided, consistent messages on a range of subjects. Our AAHA communication sheet highlights our favorite key points related to AAHA and, more specifically, to our hospital.

Trends: How do you make accreditation meaningful to prospective clients? Have you had clients come to you because you are accredited?

RI: If any member of our staff were to be asked to tell someone about our hospital, our accreditation would be mentioned first and foremost. We reinforce this message with a page dedicated to AAHA on our website and the AAHA logo featured on many promotional materials. We also give out informational folders, gift bags, and tours to new clients. It’s the perfect opportunity to discuss our accreditation.

Clients don’t typically come to us because we are an AAHA accredited practice; they stay with us because of our accreditation and level of care. When our clients move, we always use the hospital locater to print out information and direct them to another AAHA accredited hospital. I don’t believe that AAHA’s public awareness is strong enough, so there are not many people out there who seek out an accredited hospital on their own. We hope to see this change in the future.*

(Editor’s note: We’re listening! At AAHA, we are constantly working with members to increase accreditation awareness among pet owners. Check out free tools your practice can use at aaha.org/publicity.)

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

RI: We’ve decided to be a little more formal regarding AAHA and staff training. AAHA has been a part of our monthly all-hands meetings since our accreditation, but we decided to up our game and create documented training topics that range from how to discuss accreditation with new clients to AAHA’s latest canine and feline behavior guidelines.

The more we can promote AAHA in the consciousness of the staff, the better we can celebrate our accreditation. We are constantly relying on each other to improve and find new and creative ways to communicate what we work so hard to achieve: our accreditation and excellent care.

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Red is your guide to everything AAHA. Whether you’re looking for association news, updates on our educational offerings, the latest books from AAHA Press, deals from our Preferred Providers, or fun reads from various AAHA staff and AAHA-member veterinary professionals, this is where you’ll find it.

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