Got Employee Handbook?

Got Milk? Got Oreos? Got an employee policy manual that is up-to-date and relevant?

Over the years I have helped veterinary hospitals, lawyer offices and not-for-profits update or create employee handbooks. This past weekend, while speaking with veterinary students at WSU, we talked about “red flags” when interviewing for a job in a veterinary hospital. They all agreed, if they asked a perspective employer to see the employee handbook and there wasn’t one, they saw that as a HUGE ISSUE!

An employee handbook is a GOOD tool, for both the veterinary team and hospital management. Benefits of having an updated, “living” document include:

*clear communication of policies to employees

* saves time

* establishes expectations

* ensures company treats employees consistently

* provides legal documentation

* carefully consider policies with managers, supervisors, owner and veterinarians

* prevents misunderstandings

*and establishes legal right to terminate employees.

There are many ways you can revise or create an employee handbook, here are a few resources:

AAHA’s guide to creating an employee handbook,

Create your own employee handbook (with state laws and regulations),

Small Business Administration,

Let me know what questions you have and how I can help you build this great tool for your team and practice.

Best of everything, RR



Professionalism and Your Team

You may find it difficult to get your team on the same page when it comes to presenting a professional, consistent image at your veterinary hospital. You are not alone in this endeavor! Managers ask me about motivating their team, knowing how to engage them and what makes them work together as a team. A lot of times my answer is simply, “Have you asked them?”

Building a culture which allows for open dialog, problem solving and engagement seems to elude a number of managers. Please read a recent article created for My Exceptional Veterinary Team: How to Discuss Professionalism with Your Team.

I strongly suggest, with the ENTIRE team, the week before you set down to create and initiate a professionalism policy or guidelines, you lead with the following exercise, which you can download from GoalInstitute, a Professionalism Quick Test:

Make this exercise fun, lively and light. Put up a flip chart, grab colorful markers, ask your team characteristics or traits of a professional. Then have them fill out the Quick Test. Lead by example and explain your score (I came in as TOLERABLE, offering a large opportunity for improvement) and how you plan on improving your score over the next couple of weeks. Ask if someone else is willing to share their thoughts and ideas for improvement.

You will also find a Team Development Worksheet with MyEVT’s article. Use it for various other topics, both low and high risk topics. Start out with rather simple exercises (dress code, parking etiquette, etc) and move onto more challenging topics (smoking policies, socila media guidelines, etc).

The point is, LISTEN to your team, ask them what they want guiding their daily directions and offering help in the creation and discipline of issues that directly effect them. One common trait found amongst GREAT LEADERS, they were GREAT LISTENERS!

Cheers, here’s to your team creating their own guidelines for professionalism! RR



The cost of Veterinary Medicine

Why are Vets so Expensive? LONG blog read and well worth your time!  Dr. Marie hits the hammer on the head! She touches on so many topics affecting pet owners, veterinarians and the veterinary team. You will see the connection to the true cost of veterinary medicine for the pet owner and the fatiguing affects on the veterinary team.

Sometimes I hate my job.  Well, that’s not true.  I almost always love my job.  But what I hate is that everything I do costs people money.  Multiple times per day, I am helping people make decisions for their pets based on how much they can afford.

We also have salaries to pay.  The staff at veterinary clinics are, in my opinion, usually severely underpaid for the quality of work that they do.  A veterinary technician is an extremely skilled individual, able to place a catheter, draw blood, do a dental cleaning, counsel clients and multi-task animal care all day long.  According to a Technician generally gets paid between $10 and $12 per hour, writes Dr. Marie.

Know, that as a member of the veterinary team, some days will be harder than others. Most days you will go home exhausted and reflect on a rewarding day of offering the best care possible. Please TEND TO YOURSELF! The burn-out in veterinary medicine is high and Compassion Fatigue is REAL.

Here are a couple links that may help you TEND TO YOURSELF, balance and rejuvenate!

AAHA’s What is Compassion Fatigue? By Jan Thomas

For many, compassion fatigue is an ambiguous term that means something like that gross, angry, burned out, exhausted feeling you get after too many hard days, too many difficult clients, too many unwinnable cases and too many euthanasias. But misunderstanding the diagnosis — and make no mistake, compassion fatigue is a serious issue with health-related consequences — may be one of the reasons this potentially debilitating condition is becoming increasingly prevalent in the animal medical profession.

Compassion Fatigue and Burnout by Katherine Dobbs, CVPM, PHR, RVT

In contrast, compassion fatigue is about the work we DO, rather than WHERE we work. If you stay in a care giving profession, compassion fatigue will follow with you. This is one of the many reasons why it’s necessary to heal compassion fatigue, in order to prevent attrition from the veterinary profession.

Here’s to a long, healthy career in veterinary medicine!

Stay healthy, RR


Top Ten Safety Violations in Veterinary Practices

You ever been in this predicament; time to take an x-ray at your veterinary hospital and you are asked, again, to restrain an unwilling dog without sedation, the lead gloves have puncture holes in them, the thyroid collar hangs to your chest because the velcro is no longer sticky and the apron drapes to your knees because it is torn 2/3rd of the way down the length of it. Sounds familiar? As you read the following PDF you will learn you are not alone.

If you do work at a veterinary hospital with these violations, please bring the article to the owner’s/manager’s attention. Your safety is important and there are rules, laws and regulations in place to protect you from harm!

Other sites that support your safety:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration,


If you have questions regarding your safety, please send me a comment. I want to help you in your career and safety is of utmost importance!

Thanks, RR

Presenting to your team, tips from Steve Jobs

Your team will benefit from your energized meetings when you apply a few tips from Steve Jobs. Even though you are speaking with your team, they too need to see and  understand your passion to grab onto your ideas, concepts, programs and policies.

View this informative video, write down at least two “gems” and incorporate those tips into your meetings or classroom presentations. Add flare, give them direction, increase their participation and engage them.;lst;1

Remember, your team consists of adult learners and various generations. Engage them ALL in a way in which they will retain, take action and feel a part of the business.

Cheers, RR