Inside AAHA: December 2021

New AAHA president Adam Hechko, DVM, looks back at 2021, and urges us all to celebrate all our successes, no matter how small. Also in Inside AAHA, how one accredited practice used the AAHA standards to bring awareness to their accreditation; Dear AAHA answers a question on circuit tubing; and all about AAHA’s new cloud storage system for evaluations.

View from the Board

The Year in Review

What have you celebrated with your team this year? As 2021 winds down and we look forward to 2022, we must take time to celebrate our successes. In my opinion, veterinary medicine is the best profession anyone can choose. We get to challenge our minds with science and communication on a daily basis while having a tremendous positive impact on people’s and animals’ lives. Through our shared passion for animals, we build strong bonds with families and the communities we practice in.

The pandemic has created many challenges, from workflow, to increased stress, to rapid growth. Many teams are tired and may even forget why they chose to work in veterinary medicine. Let’s help each other remember how important we are to the lives of our patients, their families, and each other.

Taking time to stop and celebrate our successes helps remind us why we chose this career path. We tend to forget or take for granted all the amazing things we achieve throughout the day. Talking to people outside our industry has helped me remember that our day-today activities put smiles on people’s faces or relieve stress when an owner is worried. Let’s not forget, the small actions we take that we consider “just doing our jobs” can have a big effect on people. Sharing these moments and celebrating them with each other can bring help joy and fulfillment to our day.

There are so many ways to celebrate success in our industry. It can be giving a gift card or any other act of appreciation for a team member. We can have a party for a pet when it’s released after a long stay in the hospital.

Celebration does not always have to be tied to a medical outcome. Acknowledging teamwork when one team member goes out of their way to help another is also cause for celebration. Do you let your team know when positive reviews or cards come to the office? Maybe consider reading these words of affirmation during a team meeting for all to hear.

If daily celebration seems daunting, consider incorporating time during monthly staff meetings. Add a recuring agenda item that your team can expect called “Celebrating Our Successes.” It can be time to share good things from the last month about each other, our patients, or the families that love them.

My challenge to the veterinary industry is to find ways each day to celebrate all the amazing things we do to help pets, build stronger bonds with families, and help communities that have struggled with all the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to us. Once you start this journey, others will follow, and we can reclaim the passion we had that first day we walked into our veterinary practices.

Adam Hechko
Adam Hechko, DVM, is AAHA’s president for 2021–2022. A proud graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and an avid Buckeye fan, Hechko earned his DVM degree in 2006 following the completion of his undergraduate degree from the University of Findlay in 2002. Since 2006, Hechko has served as owner and medical director for North Royalton Animal Hospital, a four-doctor small animal practice that includes a pet resort, daycare, and grooming in North Royalton, Ohio.

Promoting AAHA Accreditation in Day-to-Day Practice

Practice Manager Trisha Rodney Merchant, CVPM, at Animal Hospital of Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida, wanted to bring awareness to her hospital’s AAHA accreditation and remind the team why their practice is “AAHA Proud.”

D-IA-AAHA_Day_pic1.jpgShe selected 31 different AAHA Standards of Accreditation—one for every day of the month—and each day, team members took pictures of themselves performing or fulfilling that standard. When the team met the goal of documenting every standard for the month, they decided to celebrate by implementing “AAHA, It’s Friday,” a special celebration of their AAHA accreditation every Friday.

“We have purchased every team member a set of red scrubs and had them review all the standards and pick out a special one that means something to them to put on the back of the scrub tops,” Merchant said.

The standards selected include “Pain management is individualized for each patient” and “The practice utilizes a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM).” “This is truly a great effort by one of our members to promote externally and internally the value of accreditation. The pictures they have posted throughout the hospital reflecting their adherence to AAHA standards are fantastic as well,” said Anthony Merkle, CVT, regional manager for AAHA’s Member Experience team.

For more ways to celebrate AAHA accreditation, visit


Dear AAHA,

What is AAHA’s guidance on cleaning circuit tubing?

—Circuit Tubing in South Bend

Dear Circuit Tubing,

Thank you for your question!

First and foremost, we suggest contacting the manufacturer of the breathing systems. Different systems have varying protocols so it’s always best to get specifics. For general guidance, you might check out the book Anesthesia and Analgesia for Veterinary Technicians, Fifth Edition by John Thomas, DVM, and Phillip Lerche, BVSc, PhD, DACVA (2016, Elsevier Health Sciences).

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Have a question you’d like AAHA to answer? Email us at

AAHA’s New Centralized Online Document Storage System Eases Evaluations

AAHA’s online evaluation tool now includes a digital document management system so practices can upload and store videos, PDFs, Word documents, and more in support of their AAHA-accreditation evaluation.

AAHA launched this digital option to reduce the time and effort members spend compiling documentation in preparation for AAHA evaluations. Having the documents digitally in advance also gives the AAHA team more time to review and suggest personalized strategies for continuous improvement of the practice over time, which is the ultimate aim of accreditation.

For example, prior to their evaluation, a hospital could upload a video tour that gives their AAHA practice consultant a look at the current workflow. Use of the digital service is not mandatory but is encouraged to make the accreditation process easier, more efficient, and more targeted to each practice’s specific needs.

Email for more information on the new document management system or anything else regarding accreditation.

AAHA Meetings and Events

AAHA is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and we will continue to follow recommended public health guidelines leading up to all scheduled AAHA events.


Veterinary Management Institute

February 12-13




Register for a learning program and learn more about AAHA’s upcoming events.


Photo credits: Photos courtesy of North Shore Animal Hospital, Arizona Animal Wellness Center, Panorama Village Animal Hospital, and Community Animal Clinic Inc., Photos courtesy of AAWC, Moore Animal Hospital, Travelers Rest Animal Hospital, monkeybusinessimages/, Thinkstock/Stockbyte, and Stocktrek Images via Getty Images, Photographer/collection via Getty Images



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