How Preventive Care Challenges Your Staff and Helps Them Grow

Veterinary technicians are instrumental in ensuring the well-being of your clients' pets. Whether it's in a time of calm or stress, these caregivers — their knowledge, abilities, and skills — are paramount to your patients' health. One way to help your team members grow as caregivers is by implementing regular preventive care protocols.

Sure, you know that these protocols guide your practice's wellness appointments, but they do so much more than that. They help your staff cultivate the expertise needed to save more pets' lives, which ultimately leads to your practice becoming more effective and successful.

Preventive Medicine Cultivates Medical Knowledge

Other than healthier, happier pets, the best part of preventive medicine is the learning that goes along with it. To truly understand preventive care and its importance, your team needs to know the medical science behind it, including what happens when medical recommendations are followed versus when they're declined and the progression of common diseases. This includes topics in:

  • Puppy and kitten needs as well as adult wellness testing
  • Routine internal and external parasite screenings and preventives
  • CBC testing and a chemistry test
  • Surgical procedures such as dental cleanings, spaying, and neutering
  • Core vaccinations (and the diseases they prevent)
  • Microchipping

Each of these deep topics contains multiple layers of new information that will keep your staff challenged and continually learning. As the manager, stay up to date with preventive medicine, and provide as much training and education to your staff as possible to further strengthen your bond and shared knowledge base as a team.

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It's also invaluable for a technician to understand the importance of getting baseline lab work values and testing them annually, so they can better explain it to clients. The key here is to ensure your client knows that getting a clean bill of health is exactly what the practice wants when offering lab work and delivering the results. I've heard clients say things like, "Well, that was a waste of money. I could have told you my dog was fine," when perfect lab work results were returned. This client didn't understand the "why" behind the recommendation: To ensure their pet is happy and healthy on the outside just as they are on the inside.

Preventive Protocols Improve Client Communication Skills

Veterinary medicine is a true partnership between the pet, client, and medical team. Ultimately, everyone at the practice is there for the health and well-being of the patient.

However, there are times when clients ask hard questions, probe for better answers, and want what they consider the best for their pet, even if that may not fully align with your guidance. For example, they may want to know why you have a specific recommendation. Preventive protocols help guide the veterinary team through these conversations, ensuring that they have the most accurate and up-to-date information to share with the client. Additionally, having these conversations allows the staff to grow in their appreciation of your clients' wants and needs.

As the manager, include clients' potential negative questions and concerns in protocol training, and then arm your team with the most appropriate answers. The question is not if but when those concerns will come up during a preventive care visit.

Preventive Diagnostics Build Treatment Experience

Offering gold-standard preventive diagnostics that include lab work and internal parasite screenings does two important things: One, it confirms that the pet is healthy — the client is doing a wonderful job caring for their pet, and you will continue to monitor their pet annually to ensure they remain healthy. Two, if the pet is showing signs of disease, you can then manage and treat it.

Did you know that, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, 1 in 7 adults, 1 in 5 seniors, and 2 in 5 geriatrics required veterinary follow-up care after wellness lab work? This follow-up care affirms how important preventive lab work is to the health and well-being of your patients, allows your staff to see disease processes they would not have seen had lab work not been performed, and gives staff the opportunity to get more hands-on experience with treatment protocols.

Implementing regular preventive care protocols can truly challenge your staff on a daily basis to grow into better professionals and caregivers. It will also help your team to stay motivated and engaged in their work once they see how valuable they are in maintaining their patients' health. In veterinary practices, we view our patients as if they were our own, and we want nothing more than to see our fur babies live happy and healthy lives.

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Amy Williams
MBA, CVPM

Amy has been in the veterinary field since 1999. She has worked in both small and large emergency and wellness hospitals in a variety of positions, including: Kennel Technician, Veterinary Technician, Customer Service Representative, Inventory Manager, Practice Manager, Practice Administrator, and currently as a District Manager for Lakefield Veterinary Group. She served on the Board of Directors for the Houston Veterinary Practice Managers Association and the Montgomery County Veterinary Medical Association. In addition, she serves as a consultant and speaker for many associations and companies, such as the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. 

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