Inside AAHA June 2023

AAHA director Cheryl Smith, CVPM, weighs in on the challenges of recruitment and the need to encourage technicians’ professional development. AAHA Community asks how to re-assign caseloads after a veterinarian leaves the practice.

View from the Board

Encourage Technicians at All Levels

All recruitment is a challenge in the veterinary industry today, and credentialed veterinary technicians are one of the most elusive hires. Many of the most qualified individuals decide to leave the industry entirely, with the average technician staying in the field for only five to seven years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate of available veterinary technician positions far exceeds the predictions for all other occupations.

Trained veterinary technicians are essential to the operation of any veterinary hospital, and it is imperative for the industry to create a sustainable career pathway for these talented professionals. Competitive compensation and benefits packages combined with increasing technician utilization and expanding job responsibilities may help stem the loss of technicians and encourage students to enter the field.

Professional associations should serve as a conduit to increase awareness of the need for uniform standards for veterinary technicians and licensure in all 50 states. Each state has its own Veterinary Practice Act that details the rules and regulations and permissible duties of veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

We need to encourage technicians to volunteer, adding their voices to and sharing their perspectives with various veterinary-affiliated associations. It is key for technicians to be at the center of leading this effort, detailing their experiences to create a team approach with all members of the veterinary field. Organized veterinary medicine must include technicians’ input and support their stature as professionals within the industry. Veterinary hospital owners and managers need to challenge each other to fully utilize the technicians within each practice and inspire them to engage in continuing education and maximize their skill sets.

Hiring from within and creating opportunities for talented team members has become a necessity for finding technicians. Keeping the talent in-house while supporting further education in programs such as AAHA-affiliated Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program benefits both the hospital and the aspiring technician. The employee continues to work in the practice while immediately implementing skills learned through class lessons. An opportunity to participate in these accredited programs benefits all parties.

Education comes with a cost, and the work-as-you-learn model helps to lighten the debt load upon completion of the program. Employers need to realize the high value a credentialed technician brings to the table and support motivated individuals early in their careers to achieve licensure or credentialing to help stem recruiting challenges moving forward.

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Cheryl Smith, CVPM, is a director on the AAHA board. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University in 1985 and entered the world of veterinary medicine when she married a veterinarian. In 1994, her husband opened Galway Veterinary Hospital in Galway, New York, and as their children grew, so did Smith’s involvement with the AAHA-accredited practice, where she now serves as hospital administrator. Smith became a certified veterinary practice manager in 2009, and she graduated from the Veterinary Management Institute in 2011. When not overseeing the management of Galway Veterinary Hospital, Smith dedicates her time to serving as a member of the Galway Board of Education, a position she’s held for more than 10 years.

 


 

This month in AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox . . .

Here are the downloadable social media images available for AAHA-accredited members at aaha.org/publicity this month:PubTlbx.jpg

  • Pride Month
  • Adopt a Cat Month
  • June 18: Father’s Day
  • June 19: International Box Day
  • June 19: Juneteenth
  • June 24: Cat World Domination Day

 

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Q: “How do you handle re-assigning caseloads when you have a departing doctor?”

Our practice has a doctor leaving and we are scrambling to manage the coverage of their appointment calendar. We have tried several different approaches with varying levels of success, but ultimately, I am looking for a solution that won’t shake up staff and clients. Any insights or ideas that have worked for you all?

A: We have found that trying to book areas of opportunity in between patient needs has been successful. For example, on surgery days, scheduling a couple of drop-offs so the doctor can do an exam while waiting for an anesthesia patient has proven to be really helpful when playing catch-up.

A: In our practice we have expanded our search when looking to replace doctors to also include licensed technicians. In particular, we have utilized them for things like nail trims, basic procedures, and giving vaccine boosters if the pet has been examined by a vet within the last six months. It has been really helpful to unburden the doctors during those times of transition.

AAHA members: Log in to see the full discussion at community.aaha.org. For help, email community@aaha.org.

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