It’s Vet Tech appreciation week.
Hopefully if you’re a doctor, office manager, practice owner, or anyone else who relies on a Vet Tech and their super human abilities, you’ve shown your appreciation with a note, some lunch, or another acknowledgement. But how do you show your appreciation every other week of the year? Presents are good. Thank you’s are essential. A paycheck is required. But do you really appreciate your Vet Techs for what they are? Highly trained, licensed, devoted, medical professionals? Here are a few ways to appreciate these talented members of your team that have nothing to do with money.
1) Listen to them
Just because Techs aren’t doctors, doesn’t mean they aren’t full of useful insights. Techs are loaded with information from their time in school and practice. Make sure they know that you value their thoughts by encouraging them to speak up.
Do they feel safe pointing out something you may have missed on a medical case or suggesting a different technique? I’m certainly not infallible and I feel better knowing my Techs have my back. They’ve saved my butt on more than one occasion.
What about making suggestions on the business side of things. They spend a lot of time talking to clients and they can get a good sense of services people would appreciate. Not every idea is going to fit into your practice, but keep an open mind and let the staff know you want them to speak up. Have a suggestion box and a designated part of the staff meetings where people can pitch ideas. Host a contest where they can submit new ideas for the practice. And most importantly, give positive feedback when Techs speak up unprompted.
2) Use them
I will sometimes fill in as a per diem vet at hospitals other than my full-time practice. I’ve seen clinics where Techs are treated like the super stars that they are and allowed to do everything their degree has prepared them for. I’ve also seen other practices where the doctors take charge of everything and leave the Techs to stand around twiddling their thumbs between wiping down exam tables and mopping floors.
It’s clear which Techs are happier in their careers. Autonomy and diversity of tasks are two of the most important aspects of job satisfaction. Make sure your techs have both.
Autonomy: Say you have a patient under anesthesia. The blood pressure is starting to drop a little. Does your Tech tell you right away and wait for instructions? Or do they analyze the patient’s depth, adjust as needed, start a bolus of fluids and then let you know how the patient is responding?
Diversity: As doctors our jobs are simple—examine a pet, come up with a diagnosis, prescribe treatment, perform surgery, and write up medical records. Everything else can be done by a Technician. That’s not to say other tasks are beneath you, and you should absolutely pitch in with a blood draw or medication refill when everyone else is swamped. But failing to delegate and doing a Techs job when they’re more than capable of doing it themselves isn’t helping you or them—it makes your Techs feel less special then they are.
3) Teach them
I have crummy veins. So when I was at the doctors the other day, it was no surprise that the medical assistant was struggling a little to draw my blood. After a thorough search of both my arms for a good vein and one unsuccessful stick, she called the doctor back in. The doctor got my blood, but she did something else as well. As she was taking my blood she gave several pointers to the medical assistant, going slow so she could see, and even letting her feel my vein. I could see how much the assistant appreciated it. Not only that, but my trust in this doctor immediately grew stronger. She was kind, patient, and understanding—not only to me but to her staff as well.
As veterinarians we accept that our education is never over. We go to CE, we research on VIN, and we call specialists for consults. Your Technicians want to learn too. If they are struggling with a task, don’t just jump in and take over—make sure you help them to do it better next time. If they show an interest in a particular area, send them to a CE to learn more. When you learn something new, pass that knowledge along.
Not only will your Techs be happier, they’ll be better. And your clients and patients will appreciate it too.
4) Help Grow Their Careers
We all want our best Techs to stay with us forever. They make our lives a thousand times easier and we couldn’t imagine being in the clinic without them. And some Techs are happy with their careers as they are. They have a bond with the clients, patients and coworkers and feel fulfilled. But many of them want more. Some of them may not even know about the opportunities they have to excel.
Do you have a Tech that is great at educating clients? Give them a voice on the clinic blog. Maybe they could have a future in writing.
Is there another Tech that shows great leadership potential. Guide them towards practice management.
That one Tech that jumps right into action in an emergency…help them look into pursuing their certification as a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care
Vet Techs are the back bone of veterinary medicine.
When we empower them, we make veterinary medicine a better place for them, our patients, our clients, and yes, even ourselves. So this week and every week, take a little time to show your appreciation.