Inside AAHA: April 2020

President-Elect Pam Nichols, DVM, reflects on the benefits of accreditation in light of her newly opened, newly accredited hospital, Animal Care Daybreak. Also, a new eLearning course on spay and neuter recommendations; Dear AAHA answers a question on radiology machine inspections; and an intro to your MX team.

View from the Board

What Does AAHA Accreditation Do for Me, Right Now? 

HELLO, AND HAPPY APRIL! As of this week, my brand-new hospital, Animal Care Daybreak, is AAHA accredited! We opened in mid-October and have been fine tuning protocols and procedures since day one. When I opened my first hospital 25 years ago, I used the AAHA standards as a blueprint; I wanted to be certain that I was following the highest standards as a solo practitioner. I didn’t give much thought to using AAHA standards as a training tool for my team—now I know better! This time, I used accreditation tools for training my team (many of whom came from nonaccredited practices) on everything from protocols for anesthesia monitoring to zip-tying cords and cables. Here is what I realized: Almost every single protocol that we created for the accreditation process improves the quality of care that my team delivers and the consistency with which it is given.

Here is an example: We lost a brand-new client because we missed calling her back about a positive fecal result for four days. Seriously. I did damage control with the client and talked in earnest with my team about it. I still wasn’t confident that all clients would really be called back by the next business day after results were available. After that, I wrote the protocol for MR29, which details the communication path in my hospital of medical records and results. It describes who is responsible for calling to report normal results, the script to communicate the results, and the value of those results. It also outlines how abnormal results are given to the doctors and what to do if the doctor is not in the hospital. By following the protocol, we should eliminate 98% of the problems. This protocol is simple, but now that it is written and has been communicated to my team, it is not just a fervent desire or wishful thinking, it is our protocol. We refer to it regularly and it is part of onboarding new employees. (Side note, I called and thanked the client whom we lost for forcing me to look at a problem and finding a way to fix it!)

Here is one more example, although I could give you fifty! I have been struggling to get my new (and quite amazing) team to complete medical records for the doctors. The team I worked with for the past 20 years was so well trained that they completed every medical record for the doctor, got approval from the doctor, and then finalized that record before the patient left the building. I have expressed my wishes for this perfect world to my new team, yet it has not materialized. I wrote MR28’s protocol with my tech manager; it describes specifically who does which part of the medical record and when it is considered completed. She took it and implemented it immediately. Charting for the doctors is now completed by technicians; I no longer see that “deer in the headlights” look when I ask a technician if the medical record is complete and ready for my review. Protocols, peeps—simple, but they work!

The take-home message is that referring back to protocols that you and your team created together for accreditation and using them for training will help your team. Your team will have the tools to carefully and consistently deliver the highest-quality medicine.

Becoming accredited at Animal Care Daybreak helped me build a better practice. It was a marvelous (if stressful) reminder that accreditation brings value to my practice. I hope that each of you experiences the value that AAHA accreditation brings to your everyday practice of medicine.

Pam Nichols
Pamela Nichols, DVM, CCRP, is AAHA’s president-elect. She received her DVM from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University in 1996 and her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Utah in 1987. Her background is varied and includes work as a financial consultant, veterinary technician, veterinary receptionist, and associate veterinarian. Nichols opened Animal Care Center in West Bountiful, Utah, in 1999 and the Animal Care Center Airport in 2014. They are both AAHA-accredited facilities. The K-9 Rehabilitation Center, which opened in 2002, was one of the first in the country of its kind.


AAHA Meetings and Events

Membership renewal begins

May 1

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

August 10–16

Last day to renew your AAHA membership!

June 30

National Check the Chip Day

August 15

AAHA Pack Trip

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | July 16–19

Fetch Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri | August 28–31

AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day

July 22

Connexity by AAHA

Denver, Colorado | September 30–October 3

2020 AVMA Convention

San Diego, California | July 31–August 4


Dear AAHA,

A team member recently discovered that our radiology machine is overdue for an inspection. We’re not sure how to get that process started—any tips?

—Wondering in Washington

Dear Wondering in Washington,

Excellent question, as a recently inspected radiology machine is critical—not only to maintain AAHA accreditation but also to meet local and state inspection requirements.

As with many regulations in the veterinary professions, the process to schedule a radiology machine inspection varies by state. We recommend calling your local or state regulatory agency to ask who is responsible for inspections in your area. If you already have a scheduled inspection, you may be able to request that your practice be moved further up the list. If your state does not schedule regular inspections, you likely will need to contract someone to perform the inspection.

Another quick solution is to simply contact your AAHA practice consultant at for information specific to your location.

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Meet Your Member Experience Team


At the heart of every great veterinary practice is a great team—and at AAHA, our team is an extension of yours.

Your practice consultant (PC), based near you, and your accreditation specialist (AS), based at AAHA HQ, are available throughout your AAHA evaluation process to answer questions, provide feedback, and be at your side.

But their support doesn’t stop there. After achieving AAHA accreditation, your AAHA team is still available to support you by reviewing practice blueprints, providing financial benchmarks, consulting on practice culture, and guiding you on how to deal with a difficult client conversation. Simply looking for a sounding board? We’re here for you.

Territory: AL, GA, MS, NC, SC, TN

Territory: AK, HI, ID, MT, OR, WA, southwestern Canada

PC: Miranda Dragon, RVT

AS: Carly McIntosh, CVT

PC: Jennifer Justen, RVT

AS: Hana Delaney, CVT

Territory: CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT

Territory: AZ, southern CO, KS, NE, NM, NV, UT

PC: Carissa Haberland, LVT

AS: Cristina Syas, CVT

PC: Amanda Kramlich, CVT

AS: Nicole Fabrizio, CVT

Territory: DE, NJ, NY, PR

Territory: AR, LA, OK, TX, Grenada, St. Kitts

PC: Alyson Forman, LVT

AS: Kambria Te Winkle, CVT

PC: Lisa Lopshire, CVPM

AS: Amanda Kramlich, CVT

Territory: FL

Territory: CA

PC: Rhonda Sayle, RVT

AS: Terri Johnson, 

PC: B. L. Blain, CVT

AS: Hana Delaney, CVT

Territory: IA, IL, MO, WI

Territory: Northern CO, MN, ND, SD, WY;
northern, central, and eastern Canada

PC: Elizabeth Armstrong, 

AS: Carly McIntosh, CVT

PC: Judy Wiita, CVT

AS: Nicole Fabrizio, CVT

Territory: IN, KY, MI, VA, WV

Territory: MD, OH, PA, Washington, DC

PC: Sarah Magoon, LVT

AS: Nicole Fabrizio, CVT

PC: Rebecca Wallace, RVT

AS: Cristina Syas, CVT

Photo credits: ©AAHA/Alison McKearn



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