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“A badge we wear with honor”: Celebrating accreditation on AAHA Day

If you see more veterinary team members wearing red today, you’re not imagining things. From food trucks, giveaways, and parking lot celebrations to matching outfits and lots of baked goods, veterinary practices across the US and Canada are celebrating their American Animal Hospital Association accreditation. 

Always held on July 22, AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day launched in 2016 with one main purpose: to show appreciation for veterinary teams who do the hard work to uphold the highest standards in medicine, patient care, and practice management.  

 Even during the height of the pandemic shutdown in 2020, AAHA-accredited practices found ways to celebrate outdoors and online. This year, despite fewer restrictions due to COVID-19, the profession continues to struggle with increased workloads and a nationwide veterinary staffing shortage, so AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day is a chance to take a break from the chaos and show gratitude for all that veterinary teams have been able to accomplish together.  

“I like to think of AAHA Day as a way to thank AAHA-accredited practices, who are the leaders in veterinary medicine, for their commitment to staying on a path of continuous improvement,” said AAHA CEO Garth Jordan. “Their dedication to a personal and professional journey of excellence is admirable, and AAHA is lucky to be on the trek with them.” 

Achieving AAHA accreditation requires being successfully evaluated on standards for safety protocols, equipment, veterinary knowledge, and pet healthcare—and those standards are always evolving, which means AAHA-accredited hospitals must keep up with the latest developments in the profession. 

 For Jordan Wheeler, AAHA used to be a “scary word.”  

Wheeler works at Community Animal Clinic in Wytheville, Virginia, a small-animal practice that has been accredited by AAHA for more than 25 years, but it was only last year during the pandemic that Wheeler herself became more interested in the meaning behind AAHA accreditation. 

“Honestly, in years past, AAHA was this scary word that meant we had to clean everything, panic, and get ready for an inspection,” Wheeler said. “After joining the AAHA members Facebook group, and digging more into the AAHA community, I realized it’s actually a fun and rewarding experience that doesn’t have to result in panic.” 

This year, Wheeler is going all out with their AAHA Day celebration, renting a popular shaved ice truck to sit in the hospital parking lot for a day, and holding a prize drawing for clients and others who stop by.   

“Now I see our accreditation as more of a badge we get to wear with honor, because in our area it’s not really a term you ever hear about among local hospitals,” Wheeler said. “We’re all trying to treat animals to the best of our ability, and keep their best interests in mind. AAHA helps keep everything organized and running more efficiently in our hospital. Because we’re doing everything AAHA asks of us, every day, there’s no need to panic when the [evaluation] time comes.” 

AAHA-accredited members can join the celebration in the private AAHA-Accredited Members Facebook group, and download free social media posts at aaha.org 

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