Manage a vet clinic, they said. . . . It’ll be fun, they said.

In honor of Practice Managers Appreciation Week, practice owner Jenn Galvin sends a dispatch from the struggle (it’s real) and digs deep to find gratitude for what keeps her in love with the job, even when it’s hard.

By Jenn Galvin

My name is Jenn; I manage a companion veterinary hospital, and it’s hard.  

Recently, at least for me, it’s become harder. A younger me thought, as I kept gaining more experience, it would eventually become a breeze. I was incorrect. Managing a clinic demands unwavering dedication, emotional resilience, and a constant quest for knowledge.  

The stressors are numerous: dealing with a changing economy, working through the emotional toll of the other humans you come into contact with, making tough decisions that weigh on your very conscience, and navigating the other dumpster fires of practice management—it’s hard. So why do I do this job? Well, it turns out I love it, and even in the challenges, there are things to be thankful for. 

The team 

Managing a team is tough. Not every day is sunshine. I’ve got schedules to juggle, conflicts to mediate, emotions to contend with, and a whole lot of responsibility on my plate. But you know what? When I see my team come together, doing what they love, and making a real difference for our patients, it’s a feeling like no other. 

The trust 

Building trust with our clients is a big deal. Gaining and maintaining trust is not always a walk in the park. It takes time, effort, and consistency. I have to handle difficult situations and have difficult conversations with owners who are often frustrated or scared. But it’s all part of the gig. I understand that when they bring their pets to us, it’s an honor. I’m grateful for the trust our clients put in us. Their faith in our expertise and care means a lot. Seeing clients leave our clinic with their pets in better shape or better spirits is a great feeling. Their loyalty and the chance to be part of their pets’ lives is something I deeply appreciate. 

The bonds 

We have to treat patients who don’t speak human and are sometimes hurt, scared, or confused. Nurturing them and earning their trust isn’t always a good time, but it’s necessary to build the bonds required to treat them. It takes patience, empathy, and creative thinking, and it can hurt your heart (and sometimes your skin). But the trust they put in us, their resilience, and the love they give us back is what it’s all about. Every tail wag, purr, and nuzzle is a reason to be thankful for what we do. 

The difference 

Managing a veterinary practice is a real rollercoaster. I have to make tough decisions, navigate financial challenges, and constantly adapt to new developments in the field. In veterinary medicine, we get to make a real impact. We empower teams to help pets live longer and healthier lives and to alleviate a pet’s suffering when the time comes. I’m grateful for the chance to be part of that journey and help our patients live their best lives. I’m thankful for educating and empowering pet owners. 

The learning 

Veterinary medicine is a field that never sits still. Staying on the cutting edge can be challenging, and it makes me feel old. It requires ongoing education, adapting to new technologies, and staying informed. New treatments, technologies, and research are always popping up. I’m thankful for the opportunities to stay in the loop to provide the best care possible. It’s not just about doing a job; it’s about doing the best job we can. 

The community 

I am an introvert, and sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing. It can be scary stepping out of my comfort zone to ask a question I should have an obvious answer for. I might have to go to a crowded conference with other humans, network with peers over Zoom, or do other challenging things that make me feel socially awkward and drain my battery. But when everything is on fire around me, I’m so thankful for the incredible network of professionals who support and inspire me. We’re there for each other, offering advice, collaborating on challenges, and learning from one another’s experiences. It’s this sense of community that makes the veterinary world special, and it’s something I value greatly. 

And finally, the joyful purpose  

In the world of veterinary medicine, there are countless reasons to be frustrated, but there are countless reasons to be grateful. So, here’s a big shoutout to the world of veterinary medicine and all the joy and purpose it brings me every single day. Yes, managing a veterinary practice can be a tough gig, but it’s worth it when you see the positive impact you’re making on the lives of your team, the animals you treat, and the owners you have the privilege to get to know. 


Photo credit:  © cagkansayin E+ via Getty Images Plus 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 



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