Pulse - September 2021 - 17
little hamster on the wheel was all entrepreneur
and business. I come from a family
of entrepreneurs. I liked the business side
of veterinary medicine and I had worked
in the hospital enough to know that I was
really good with the people and
business side of a veterinary practice. "
She soon realized that there are other
things you can do with a pre-vet degree
than going to veterinary school. Her first
job in the field was as a doctor's assistant.
" After that I became an emergency supervisor.
That was the first rung on the leadership
ladder for me. "
She had just finished her BS degree when
she became a supervisor. " It was feed my
kid, feed myself and get to work. My son,
John, graduated from kindergarten when I
graduated from college. We have pictures in
caps and gowns together. He's 24 now. "
After graduation, she went to a practice
in Indio that was transforming itself from
a day practice to an emergency practice. " I
realized that I was in charge of teaching
the staff how emergency medicine works.
It wasn't just teaching them how to handle
a case. It was coaching and training
aspects - how you deal with the clients. I
also had to write the policies and procedures
I was teaching.
" That was my first toe in the water on
the human components of veterinary medicine.
I was only there a year. The commute
was really hard so I found a job in a
day practice. " Andrea worked as a practice
manager six years until she was certified by
VHMA in 2011. " There were only about
300 CVPMs then and it wasn't common
for practices to have managers. "
In her last year in Cal Poly Pomona's
pre-vet program, Melissa realized that she
" enjoyed healthy pets more than sick ones
so I knew in my senior year that I was
going to go in a different direction. "
" I went to work full time in a hospital
while I was looking for jobs in sales or
some other part of the animal industry. I
took on extra responsibility at the practice
and was putting in a lot of hours and suggesting
that we try some of my ideas.
" Then my practice owner approached
me and offered me the position of assistant
hospital manager. She recognized that
I had leadership traits.
" We didn't have a practice manager then
but over about a year that's what I became.
It wasn't a planned thing but it was a good
thing for me that led me down a career
path I might never have taken. "
" It took a little bit of time for my owner
to get used to me and trust me to make
decisions. At one point she said: 'OK, I'm
going away for the weekend. See you
Monday.' She wasn't worried that I might
not be able to handle something. That's
when I knew I was valued by her. "
Melissa left that practice in 2015, going
first to an internal medicine specialty hospital,
then to a specialty and emergency practice,
then to emergency only. And, of course,
she started her own business in 2018.
Andrea said that she still considers herself
a practice manager " because I'm in the
trenches with practice managers all day,
every day. The way I think of it is that I
manage several practices and I partner with
practice managers and/or practice owners.
It's not full time at any practice.
" Some of them I truly just consult
with. But some I feel like I co-manage. It
depends on what the practice needs. Sometimes
they just need a consultant to advise
them and provide resources or do projects
or help them with policy or procedures.
I have practices I'm in every week helping
their owner with things their manager
technically would do. If a manager doesn't
know how to handle something, I'm working
alongside her. I'm hiring and firing,
I'm doing reviews, I'm writing procedures
and policies, reviewing financials, creating
budgets, developing marketing plans and a
variety of other things.
" It's a lot of fun. I like being in a different
practice every day. It's like a breed of dog.
I work with a variety of different breeds. I
have a Rottweiler, a Pitbull, a Chihuahua,
a Border Collie. Every practice is different.
Each team I work with is different. "
With larger practices, she said, she is
" more coaching the leadership team. I'm
working on leadership development and
sometimes practice development. In business
development it may be understanding
some KPIs [key performance indicators] and
honing in on particular KPIs. This might be
things like how can we see more clients in
a day? How can we have a higher average
transaction? How can we add more new clients
to the appointment calendar? How can
we move the needle on things like increasing
revenue and reducing expenses?
In smaller practices, she said, she can take
a more hands-on role in making management
Melissa said that she " has a couple of
hospitals that don't have practice managers
so I do a lot of their managerial duties.
" I work with hospitals to help them
with different problems, " she said. She helps
practice managers who are having trouble
with organization. " For example, with fees.
Sometimes they don't have updated fees in
their software programs. They might have
done inventory but never changed pricing.
" I do a lot of reviewing to make sure
their fees make sense. They might be buying
something for $10 but they're not
charging $10 when they sell it. They need
to make a profit on it. "
She also checks her clients to make sure
they are legally compliant. " Are practice
owners not compliant because they don't
realize what the law requires? This includes
HR law. For example, are employees getting
the right pay, since minimum wage is
different in different areas?
" I sometimes lead team meetings. I provide
sexual harassment prevention training.
Sometimes a practice wants me to talk about
compassion fatigue or client service. I do a lot
of training with hospital teams. That includes
how to talk to clients about euthanasia. A lot
of times, we don't do that very well. "
Practice managers need to make sure their
teams are aware of the financial options that
are available to clients, Melissa said. They
also need to be sure those options are on the
hospital website and that clients know about
them. " Good practice managers take care of
matters like this, " she said.
" Clients are not going to know that
Angel Fund exists, " she added. " This is
probably a failure on the part of the practice
owner, who is a member of SCVMA
but may not have shared the information
with his leadership. A lot of managers are
SCVMA members but not as many as I
would like. "
Pulse - September 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pulse - September 2021
Pulse - September 2021
Chapter Meetings & Calendar
How Veterinary Managers’ Jobs Differ
UC Davis Update
Tools for Success
Digital Photography for Veterinarians
From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - September 2021 - Pulse - September 2021
Pulse - September 2021 - Cover2
Pulse - September 2021 - 1
Pulse - September 2021 - 2
Pulse - September 2021 - Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Pulse - September 2021 - President’s Perspective
Pulse - September 2021 - Pulsepoints
Pulse - September 2021 - 6
Pulse - September 2021 - 7
Pulse - September 2021 - 8
Pulse - September 2021 - 9
Pulse - September 2021 - 10
Pulse - September 2021 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - September 2021 - How Veterinary Managers’ Jobs Differ
Pulse - September 2021 - 13
Pulse - September 2021 - 14
Pulse - September 2021 - 15
Pulse - September 2021 - 16
Pulse - September 2021 - 17
Pulse - September 2021 - 18
Pulse - September 2021 - 19
Pulse - September 2021 - 20
Pulse - September 2021 - 21
Pulse - September 2021 - 22
Pulse - September 2021 - 23
Pulse - September 2021 - Practical Pathology
Pulse - September 2021 - Medical Leeway
Pulse - September 2021 - UC Davis Update
Pulse - September 2021 - Tools for Success
Pulse - September 2021 - 28
Pulse - September 2021 - Angel Fund
Pulse - September 2021 - Dear Tabby
Pulse - September 2021 - The RVT
Pulse - September 2021 - Industry Insights
Pulse - September 2021 - Quick Reference
Pulse - September 2021 - AVMA Diplomates
Pulse - September 2021 - Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Pulse - September 2021 - 36
Pulse - September 2021 - 37
Pulse - September 2021 - 38
Pulse - September 2021 - Resources
Pulse - September 2021 - 40
Pulse - September 2021 - Disease Table
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Pulse - September 2021 - From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - September 2021 - Cover3
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