Inside AAHA: July 2020

AAHA President Guylaine Charette, DMV, dives into the subject of culture and how it relates to the health of both your practice’s people and its finances. Dear AAHA answers a question on controlled substances, and we offer some ideas for celebrating AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day (July 22)!

View from the Board

Culture Unites Us

What I love most about traveling is seeing new places and people, getting a glimpse of their traditions and culture. When I walk into my veterinary practice, I feel at home. I know my team and they know me. We are a unit, and our purpose is taking care of clients by helping their pets. This is our culture. This is what we do; this is who we are.

Could culture be just another buzzword? Certainly not in my practice. Culture is defined as an integrated pattern of human knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors. Culture affects organizations from employee engagement to financial performance. It is unique to every business and evolves over time. It can be difficult to change, but culture is what drives employees to focus on the organization’s purpose. Stronger employee engagement and task ownership leads to increased client loyalty and generates growth.

Gallup describes three principles for creating a profitable company culture:

  1. Being authentic helps deliver on promises. Culture is very different for every practice. Identify what is currently working with your team. By starting with what you do very well, you have a framework to grow.
  2. Being unique helps build a following. The information gained from answering questions like why you exist and whom you serve should drive the hiring process. The essence of a great culture is linked to selecting the right employees. The social environment becomes the fabric for what is unique about your practice and why clients come back.
  3. Being profitable is part of your purpose. Look to build an entrepreneurial culture where employees have growth opportunities, meaningful work, and a stake in decisionmaking. Celebrate client compliance, returning clients, and new clients.

Looking at your practice team, you should remember that emotional wellbeing can be affected by the physical environment. Building a strong team means looking inside your facility and creating a place where people want to spend time every day. Is your practice well organized? Stimulating? Peaceful?

Experts understand that practice wellbeing and culture are inextricably linked. In 2017 AAHA launched the Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative to help enhance culture and wellbeing in veterinary practices. The NEXUS Connection is a great place to begin taking control of the culture in your practice and is available for all of our veterinary professionals. The NEXUS Connection is a collaboration between AAHA and the Coffman Organization and consists of a two-part employee engagement program. The first part, a survey, helps identify strengths and key pain points in the current team culture and is a great starting point to define your unique culture. The second part is the Practice Management Community, which offers online support, educational resources, and interactive tools.

Just as I am drawn to travel because I enjoy seeing how other people live, clients come back to our practice because they perceive that we care about them and their companion animals. Building a fabulous workplace culture happens by design. It isn’t a passing trend; it’s a journey.

Guylaine Charette
Guylaine Charette, DMV, is AAHA’s 2019–2020 president.
After receiving her Docteur en Médecine Vétérinaire
degree from the Université de Montréal in 1984, Charette
joined the 2016 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year,
Pembroke Animal Hospital, in Pembroke, Ontario,
Canada, where she still practices as an owner.

July 22 Is AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day

We celebrate AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day each year on July 22 to honor the hard work and effort it takes to become accredited—and to raise public awareness about the AAHA accreditation difference.

Many pet owners don’t realize that accreditation is not required in veterinary medicine. In fact, 58% of pet owners believe their veterinary hospital is AAHA accredited, but only 12–15% actually are. You’ve done the work to earn accreditation. Now is the time to spread the word about what that means.

Ways to Celebrate

AAHA-accredited practices have come up with some wildly creative ways to show their pride on AAHA Day. We know this year may look a little different, but there are still plenty of ways to safely celebrate with your team and through social media.

Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Have everyone wear red.
  • Decorate with red and white balloons.
  • Film a “behind the scenes” tour and post the video to your website.
  • Hold a trivia contest with your team.
  • Post pictures of your team on your Facebook page.
  • Create a scavenger hunt to find all the AAHA logos in your hospital.

Focus on Accreditation

The point of AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day is to educate pet owners about why accreditation matters. Sometimes all it takes is to include a note, perhaps in an appointment reminder, that says, “AAHA sets the standard for veterinary care. We’ve been evaluated on more than 900 standards to become one of only 12−15% of veterinary hospitals in the US and Canada to be AAHA accredited.”

See for tips and videos on how to talk about accreditation.

#AAHAday Resources

AAHA-accredited members can visit the Publicity Toolbox to:

  • Download the AAHA logo for use on posters, flyers, cookies, cakes, and more.
  • Get social media post ideas and images.
  • Use premade posters, banners, and counter cards.

Go to the AAHA-accredited merch store to order AAHA-branded items to be used around the
hospital and as prizes, including:

  • Pens, bandanas, collapsible water bowls, coloring sheets, flags, signs, decals, floor and exam mats, slip leashes, lapel pins, pet food lids, and more!

Explore the AAHA-Accredited Members Facebook Group to see how other practices celebrate:

  • Once in the AAHA Facebook Group, search “#AAHAday.”
  • Pose a question to the group to get feedback on an #AAHAday celebration idea.

Don’t forget to share your photos, videos, and event details with the hashtag #AAHAday to the AAHA-Accredited Members Facebook Group this year to enter a prize drawing.

Most of all, have a HAPPY AAHA DAY JULY 22!


Feeling Nostalgic?

Take a look at last year’s celebrations!

Lake Emma Animal Hospital, Florida

To celebrate their first #AAHAday as an accredited hospital, Lake Emma Animal Hospital donated blood with the Big Red Bus, offered a table of treats, and made a personalized AAHA selfie frame.

Liberty Veterinary Medical Center, Georgia

This AAHA-accredited hospital expanded outside, with a doggie pool and pet-size selfie booth, as well as red and white balloons, a raffle, hot dogs, and free pet toys.

Town ’n’ Country Animal Hospital, North Carolina

Town ’n’ Country took its #AAHAday events online by posting videos about accreditation in the weeks leading up to AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day and promoting a social media contest the day of, which included an online raffle to guess how many dog biscuits were in a jar—with the hint that it was the same number of standards evaluated to earn AAHA accreditation. 



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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.

Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP)

Fall semester registration opens: July 1

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

August 10–16

Veterinary Management Series: Practice Essentials 

August early registration savings deadline: July 13 

National Check the Chip Day

August 15

AAHA Pack Trip

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | July 16–19 

Connexity by AAHA

Virtual | September 30–October 3

AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day

July 22



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


Dear AAHA,

Lately we’ve been doing more surgeries, and there have been times when control injectables are left out for easy access. It concerns me that these meds are accessible by anyone who could walk over and grab one without anyone noticing. How can we better keep our controlled substances safeguarded during surgery?

—Controlled in Chicago

Dear Controlled,

One idea that has worked successfully for many of our practices is assigning the lead tech to be in charge of and accountable for medications for surgery/dentals. One practice has the lead tech carry a fanny pack containing the meds across her body, so she is still able to work without it causing issues.

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

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



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