The Business of Practice: Veterinary Staff Communication

You can improve employee engagement at your veterinary practice with good communication. Thinkstock

<div · “The first employee engagement survey we did (at McKee-Pownall Veterinary Services) in 2016 was eye opening,” said Mike Pownall, DVM, MBA. “It showed our vets were getting burned out.”</div

After making changes in scheduling that included a four-day workweek, the practice saw a 13% increase in income. “They rediscovered the joy of veterinary medicine,” said Pownall.

“If people [at the vet practice] are not engaged, look at communication between management and staff,” he advised.

In this episode of The Business of Practice podcast, Pownall talks about Staff Communication and how to improve communication within a veterinary practice.

“Everyone thinks they communicate well, and that’s not the case,” said Pownall.

He noted that poor communication between partners or partners and management in a veterinary practice “sets the tone for the staff.” 

Pownall said everyone in a veterinary practice—especially owners and management—need to recognize that communication is essential. “It’s a challenge when it is poor or too much,” said Pownall

He recommended that practice owners find out how staff wants to be communicated with. His practice tried a newsletter, but found out that people were not engaged in it; “60% didn’t even open it,” said Pownall.

Pownall found in his practice that 5- 10-minute “weekly huddles” works for communicating the most important aspects of what is going on. There is a private Facebook for celebrating birthdays or work anniversaries. They also use texts to keep people up-to-date because they can be searched.

“As vets, we don’t want to make mistakes, so we tend to nit-pick others,” said Pownall. He said staff need more positive feedback on how they benefit the practice, other veterinarians and other staff.

“You want a culture of positivity so everyone is happy to communicate,” he stated.

“Remember, in balancing the communications, it takes 4-5 positive interactions for every negative interaction,” said Pownall.

He also advised including staff in decision-making to avoid causing them to disengage.

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this article are the sole opinions of the author and roundtable participants. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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