Inside AAHA: May 2020

Immediate Past President Darren Taul, DVM, talks social media strategy with a focus on setting and achieving goals. We highlight AAHA’s new Forensic Process Course on investigating animal cruelty cases; Dear AAHA answers a question on access to AAHA’s standards; free, RACE-approved culture lunch and learns; and a review of the AAHA pain management standards.

View from the Board

Deciphering Social Media

SMPs, FB, IG, LI, YT, CMS, SEO, SEM, and SERP? What?! Talk about an alphabet soup in a foreign language. If your reaction is, “But I just want to practice medicine,” you are not alone.

We’ve all had to learn a few aspects of social media (and it’s a steep learning curve for me). Until COVID-19, our goal was “Drive traffic to our website.” Early in the year, we created an “editorial calendar”—basically an annual social media plan that outlines who posts what, when, and where. Normally, it’s a great way to organize content. These days, the headlines are dominating what we post about. What a great example of “Planning is essential, but plans change at a moment’s notice. . . .”

Aside from COVID-19, I’ve had to learn about Google My Business (GMB) and how to utilize and interpret Google Analytics (GA). We all know the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), which was the most important thing three years ago. Now there are “zero-click” searches, which means when someone googles “veterinarians near me,” then your hospital, hours, phone, and location may show up right on the search engine results page (SERP). This might get you good exposure, but only 40% of all searchers will actually scroll down and click on the link to your webpage (organic clicks). That means if you are paying for Google ads, you may be getting less return on investment (ROI) than you were three years ago because of zero-click searches. So now the question becomes, “How can I drive traffic to my website without relying on Google searches?”

Social media can be a key component for directing traffic to your website and minimizing the zero-click searches. This provides opportunities for viewers to learn more about your hospital and gives them a direct line to your website. There are several social media platforms (SMPs) in use today, and your target audience may determine which ones need your focus. Managing several SMPs can be a full-time job, so start with what you can manage.

Begin with the End in Mind

What are your goals for social media? For example, do you want to increase your brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, build community around your brand, or simply improve audience engagement? Our starting point for our editorial calendar was a combined goal of building community and improving audience engagement.

“Know your audience” is a hallmark of public speaking. Think of social media as a stage. Which SMPs do your target audience use? What does your audience want to hear? Pets are family members in today’s world; it’s not enough to just provide information. Your clients want audience engagement, too!

Once your goals are established, start with a short-term plan (30–60 days) and create a social media calendar. Brainstorm content that supports your goals. If your goals aren’t being achieved, then revisit your goals, your audience, or even your platform. Whichever platform you use, make sure to incorporate your website to minimize the potential for zero-click searches.

AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox has numerous resources available (how-to guides, videos, and social media resources) to make this daunting task a little easier. All of these tools can help you manage a successful social media campaign. After all, these days, “just practicing medicine” means more than just working on animals. It also incorporates keeping yourself, your staff, and your clients safe. Stay strong and focused, we will get through COVID-19 and be an even stronger profession for it. I’m very proud of this profession and how veterinarians step up in times of need.

Darren Taul
Darren Taul, DVM, is AAHA’s immediate past president
and owner of the Animal Hospitals of Danville and
Lancaster in Kentucky.


No Pain, All Gain

AAHA’s pain management standards provide a framework for delivering the highest-quality care by anticipating, monitoring, and preemptively treating pain before it becomes a problem. AAHA members can view these and other standards in the Accreditation and Membership section of

Here is a sampling of the standards:

Pain assessment is considered part of every patient evaluation regardless of the presenting complaint.
Pain management is provided for the anticipated level and duration of pain.
Pain assessment using a standardized scale or scoring system is recorded in the medical record for every patient evaluation.
The practice utilizes preemptive pain management.


Contact [email protected] to learn more about the AAHA Standards of Accreditation and how they can help your practice thrive.

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.

Membership renewal begins

May 1

AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day

July 22

Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP)

Spring semester begins: May 18

2020 AVMA Convention

San Diego, California | July 31–August 4

Last day to renew your AAHA membership!

June 30

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

August 10–16

Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP)

Fall semester registration opens: July 1

National Check the Chip Day

August 15

Veterinary Management Series: Practice Essentials 

August early registration savings deadline: July 13

Fetch Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri | August 28–31

AAHA Pack Trip

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | July 16–19

Connexity by AAHA

Denver, Colorado | September 30–October 3

Law and Order: Cats and Dogs Edition

AAHA’s New Forensic Process Course

AAHA Learning just released a new eight-module RACE-approved Forensic Process course to train veterinary professionals to assist in investigations of animal cruelty, including protocols for recordkeeping and documentation used as evidence in court cases.

“This course provides an incredible opportunity for veterinary professionals to gain critical skills directly applicable to their practice and to have a major impact on the welfare of animals and the entire veterinary field,” said AAHA Chief Learning Officer Julie Noyes, DVM, PhD, MA, MS.

These skills are vital to the veterinary profession but are rarely included in formal training. Recent recommendations by the Competency-Based Veterinary Education (CBVE) working group of the American Veterinary Medical Association added “recognizing and responding to evidence of abuse and neglect” to the core competency of Professionalism and Professional Identity within the CBVE framework, but because this framework is so new, many graduates likely haven’t received in-depth training in recognizing, collecting, and responding to evidence of neglect and abuse.

This course aims to fill this gap with an engaging format in which learners actively participate in the forensic process for several abuse and neglect cases using video-, audio-, and text-based interactions, as well as experiential reflection after practical application. Topics include proper case-file management, evidence gathering and transfer, material assessment, and the role of expert witnesses in legal proceedings.

“Enrollment in the course includes a toolkit of materials, which learners will download not only to build an example case file of their own as they complete the modules, but which they may also use in their veterinary practices should the need arise,” said Laura Shively, MS, instructional coordinator for AAHA Learning programs.

“None of us wants to think about the number of abuse and neglect cases, but the reality is that we see them in our practices, and this course provides the tools to protect animal victims,” added Noyes.

Understanding the forensic process provides incredibly important skills to ensure these tragic cases are handled appropriately and to facilitate bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Visit for more.

Enough Benefits to Fill a Book!

Grab a cup of coffee or another favorite beverage and take a few minutes to explore the new member benefits guide enclosed with this month’s Trends (or view now). Mark your calendar to renew your AAHA membership by June 30 to continue enjoying these perks, savings, and members-only advantages!

Claim Your Free Lunch—and a Free Practice Culture Review!

Whether you recognize it or not, every practice has a culture. So why does it matter?

Strong culture leads to:

During this informative, interactive, free, RACE-approved session, your AAHA practice consultant will review wellbeing issues specific to the veterinary profession and empower you with actionable recommendations to improve practice culture. Lunch will be provided!

IA_05.jpg“Thank you for the fantastic talk! It was one of the most valuable discussions we’ve had and will really help us change our culture starting now.”

—Susan Miller, Sauk Prairie Small Animal Hospital, practice manager and culture review session attendee

Email [email protected] to schedule your free practice culture review and recommendation session.


Dear AAHA,

I need to review AAHA standards as I study for the CVPM [Certified Veterinary Practice Manager] exam with the VHMA [Veterinary Hospital Managers Association]. How can I access AAHA standards?

—Studious in St. Louis 

Dear Studious in St. Louis,

Congratulations for investing in your professional growth by pursuing your CVPM designation! AAHA Standards of Accreditation usually are only accessible by AAHA-accredited and AAHA-preaccredited practices, but because the VHMA requires the review of certain AAHA standards for the CVPM exam, it offers a link for CVPM students at Note that you will need a special code.

If you work at an AAHA-accredited or AAHA-preaccredited practice now or in the future, you can see the standards at any time. Call us at 800-883-6301 to request your CVPM code or link your profile to your AAHA-accredited practice.

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Have a question you’d like AAHA to answer? Email us at [email protected].

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