Practice Manager Appreciation Week is a seven-day celebration observed annually on the third week of November. The intent of this observance is to honor the role that Practice and Hospital Managers play in supporting the veterinary profession, while ensuring exceptional pet care.
Odis Pirtle is the CEO of Thrive Pet Healthcare, the organization which spearheaded the creation of the inaugural Practice Manager Appreciation Week in 2022, and says, “Behind every successful hospital, there is a practice leader who goes above and beyond to ensure operations run smoothly and team members feel supported to address patients’ needs."
We couldn't agree more, and as we said in our Practice Manager Appreication video which was released earlier this week, the individuals that make up this profession are truly one-of-a-kind. The role demands that they are part inventory manager, part web master, part HR director, part kennel tech, part receptionist, and clearly, part superhuman!
We had the opportunity to speak with three of these dedicated individuals, who each shared their unique perspectives on what it's like to be a Practice Manager, what initially drew them to the profession, what keeps their professional passion ignited, and more. We invite you to get to know more about them below!
Get to know Cody J. Waldrop, BSPH, CVPM, SHRM-CP
What brought you to management in the veterinary field?My venture into veterinary management is a testament to the resilience and passion that has defined my career since I entered the field at the age of 16. Early on, I was guided by the belief that becoming a DVM was the only key to success, a notion which fueled years of dedicated hard work. However, my acceptance into vet school in 2017 did not unfold as expected, prompting a moment of reassessment and self-discovery.
Despite this setback, I found renewed purpose in my role as a Practice Manager, realizing it was more than just a stepping stone for a resume, but a fulfilling path itself. When I returned home from leaving vet school, I briefly questioned my place in the veterinary field but after exploring other opportunities, I rediscovered my passion for veterinary medicine.
On day 1 of my new Practice Manager position, I was given a VHMA (Veterinary Hospital Managers Association) membership, marking the beginning of a transformative journey. This community provided not only invaluable resources, but also a supportive network which I credit being instrumental in my professional growth.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had known as a new practice manager?One valuable piece of advice for new Practice Manager, and one that I wish I had tackled a bit sooner, is prioritizing effective communication. Establishing clear communication channels with the veterinary team, clients, and other stakeholders, is crucial for smoothly running a practice. Miscommunications lead to misunderstandings and inefficiencies, so being proactive in promoting effective communication is key.
On your most challenging days, what keeps you passionate about your career?My passion stays strong on tough days by keeping a laser focus on providing quality care to our patients. Despite challenges, their well-being motivates me to navigate the complexities of the job. I also find fulfillment in supporting and nurturing my team, creating a positive work environment that helps us all thrive and reach our shared goals.
Additionally, delivering exceptional customer service to clients is part of my dedication. Building trust and positive relationships is not just rewarding - it is crucial for the overall success of the practice. Knowing that I contribute to creating positive experiences for the team, clients, and patients, keeps my passion alive, even on the toughest days.
How can Veterinarians and Practice Owners best support Practice Managers in their role?Veterinarians and Practice Owners can best support their Practice Managers by providing clear expectations and goals, offering ongoing training and professional development opportunities, and fostering a positive work culture. Regular communication and feedback are essential, allowing Practice Managers to address issues promptly and make informed decisions.
Another piece of advice would be to encourage and support your Practice Manager to get involved with the VHMA and pursue their CVPM (Certified Veterinary Practice Manager). For Practice Managers pursuing the CVPM, it is crucial for Veterinarians and Practice Owners to recognize and appreciate the entire journey involved in achieving this certification. This understanding encompasses the entirety of the CVPM process - from the initial application, the approval criteria, the rigorous preparation required to pass the exam, and the ongoing commitment of maintaining the certification.
Get to know Krista M Iacono
I wanted to be a veterinarian as a child. When I started college, I realized that studying from books was not a good way for me to learn. I became frustrated and with the thought of how difficult vet school would be, and how much longer it would take, it was not an option in my young mind.
What brought you to management in the veterinary field?
As the years went by, I had various jobs where I would often become a manager. When my cat broke his hip and I took him to the vet, the vet told me there was a job opening as an assistant. I left my "boss job" and started at the clinic for much less money, but it was thoroughly satisfying.
After a few years there, I had learned how to do many administrative tasks, gave my opinions, understood the numbers, and had become a surgery tech (not licensed). It was then that I started to have issues with one particular co-worker. I knew I needed to leave, so I applied for a Hospital Manager position with a corporation where I still am today - combining my previous experience with the vet industry.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had known as a new practice manager?Delegate!
On your most challenging days, what keeps you passionate about your career?Stopping everything I'm doing at that moment, and going to work in treatment a bit to keep my skills up.
How can Veterinarians and Practice Owners best support Practice Managers in their role?Support them, respect them, and actually mean it, demonstrating it outwardly. As opposed to telling employees, "I know the hospital manager said that, but..."
Appreciate them, and make them feel important, just like we make our team feel important!
Get to know Meghan Bingham, BA, CVPM
I started in veterinary medicine as a summer job cleaning kennels, and never left! It's all I've ever known, and I can't imagine doing anything else.
What brought you to management in the veterinary field?
What is one piece of advice you wish you had known as a new practice manager?I realize this may sound cynical, but you shouldn't care more about the veterinary practice than the owner does. It's not sustainable. Practice Management can be a very lonely job, so it's important to create a strong network outside of your practice.
On your most challenging days, what keeps you passionate about your career?I always want to help the people that help people and their pets. I'm happy as long as I'm setting up others for success, or making someone else's job easier.
How can Veterinarians and Practice Owners best support Practice Managers in their role?I believe setting clear expectations and parameters can make this role easier to navigate. And, once established, honoring those parameters is vital. For example, if you've given your Practice Manager the authority to perform employee reviews and set raises, then the Practice Owner shouldn't intervene when an employee comes to them to vent.
Let's say you're faced with a situation along these lines: "But Dr. Smight, Meghan is so mean! She only gave me a $1 raise, when I asked for $5!"
A response that undermines your Practice Manager would be, "Aww, Susie Q, you know you're my favorite! I don't know what Meghan was thinking! I'll make sure you get the $5 raise."
Whereas a response that supports your Practice Manager would be, "Well, Susie Q, I know Meghan follows a standard protocol for deciding rate increases. Did you ask her why you've receveived less than expected?"
Happy Practice Manager Appreciation Week!Thank you to Cody, Krista, and Meghan for sharing their unique perspectives on Practice Management with us. The way they keep their teams and patients top-of-mind in everything they do, is admirable and heartening.
And thank you again to practice mangers everywhere, for the incredible, positive impact you make on the animal health industry not just this week, but each and every day.
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A conversation with Oriana Gradeles-Scislowicz, Learning Experience Design Manager for Patterson Veterinary University, regarding why practice owners and managers should consider CE for their teams as part of back-to-school planning.