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“We’ve cut our turnover in half”: A practice-management success story

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“I learned more in this 1 year than I think I learned in the past 10 years of managing the practice,” says Kate Parker, part-owner and hospital manager at AAHA-accredited Animal Urgent Care in Arvada, Colorado, and a recent graduate of the Veterinary Management Institute (VMI).

VMI is an executive-level management program tailored to seasoned employees of companion-animal veterinary practices. Employees like Parker, who want to improve their management skills and their practice by learning sophisticated, industry-specific techniques in areas that range from strategic decisionmaking, service marketing, and entrepreneurship to staff training, supervision, and conflict management.

Parker calls the program’s communication training “incredible,” and says she’s already successfully employed concepts such as active listening in her interactions with her staff, particularly in the area of conflict resolution.

“As [hospital] managers, we have a lot of difficult conversations at work, whether [they’re] with coworkers or with clients,” Parker says. “Just having a structure I can refer back to when I feel stressed about a difficult conversation makes it go more calmly and smoothly.”

But, she says, “The most valuable aspect was networking and gaining perspective on different viewpoints in the industry.” And she still keeps in touch with her fellow attendees. “I just got a card form one of my cohorts with some goodies for my team, and picked someone else’s brain about public speaking because I’ve been doing more of that. I’m just trying to get feedback from people in areas where they’re [more experienced] than I am.”

A collaboration between AAHA and the College of Business at Colorado State University, VMI’s flexible, 10-month program combines online and in-person instruction led by accomplished, expert learning facilitators to equip you with relevant skills that you can implement immediately.

The program includes a capstone project, which turned out to be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of Parker’s career.

Parker’s project involved hiring a therapist to visit the hospital twice a week to help staff struggling with compassion fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, and other emotional issues. Parker says  internal staff surveys show “Significant, measurable improvements” since the therapist started coming in last year.

“We’ve cut our turnover in half,” she says. “Staff members are also sleeping better, eating better, and have more energy.” And there’s  a “significant decrease” in the number of employees who think about quitting their job or leaving the field completely. “Overall, the staff feels more supported and more cohesive.” Parker says. “The team is really stepping up and taking care of the practice because they feel like we’re taking care of them.

Parker credits VMI.

“VMI gave me a great framework in a couple of areas where I wasn’t super strong and introduced me to a lot of people who I think will be valuable to me for the rest of my career,” Parker adds. “VMI widened my horizons.”

VMI is Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM)-qualified CE. With 63 in-person and up to 21 online CE hours, you can meet the CVPM CE credit hour requirement through a single educational program.

Find out how to take your management skills to a higher level with VMI. The next session starts in February. Register by January 15 to save $500.

Photo credit: © iStock/Izusek