5 – Location
Location should not be part of a health care decision. For many of us it unfortunately is a big factor. Maybe it’s your work schedule, children’s school schedules, after school activities, etc. Getting home to load the furry family for a trip to the vet, then getting them back home can pose some logistical problems. Other options to consider are whether the hospital has free or low cost drop off visits. How efficient are they at meeting the scheduled appointment time? What amenities are offered for the kids? Matching up schedules, could the location be near your work instead of your home?
4 – Facility
What does your nose tell you when you walk through the door? In addition to wellness care like vaccines and routine tests, animal hospitals also care for sick and contagious pets. If a hospital cannot locate and remove obvious contaminants like feces, how well are they doing on disinfecting for invisible germs like parvovirus and bordetella pertussis (kennel cough)? A key sign of a top notch animal hospital is cleanliness! Does the hospital offer behind the scenes tours? Are all areas of the hospital clean and well maintained?
3 – Technology
Technology is improving the level of care and reducing health care costs as well. The improvements are expected with newer, advanced sensors, laboratory screening procedures, and completely new diagnostic technologies. How are costs being reduced? The hardware supporting these newer technologies and many existing technologies has become less expensive to manufacture. Diagnostic tools previously cost prohibitive in veterinary medicine are now affordable.
Other areas of reduced costs come from improved efficiency. Consider something as simple as paperless records. If you see shelves of paper files behind the desk rest assured part of your expense is paying for people to manage them. The best recommendation is to ask the hospital how ‘their investments in new technology are reducing your costs’.
2 – Staff
A well trained staff combined with excellent procedures will improve the healthcare of your furry family members and reduce the cost of delivering it as well. How do you know a staff is well trained? It starts with the first phone call. Professionalism is easy to discern. Ask questions next. As an industry, animal healthcare does not afford high wages. The goal is to find people with a calling. If someone is caring for your sick family member, it has to be a career choice not a job!
When the team is hired based on a career choice, continuous improvement comes naturally. There is so much to learn in healthcare for all roles in the hospital. When evaluating a new hospital set your expectations high and don’t settle for good enough. There are many hospitals to choose from. A choice based on convenience may replace an engaging, learning doctor visit with something you dread.
1 – The Doctors
Ask your pet after the visit what they thought of the doctor. If only it was that easy! Truth be told, there are only 30 accredited veterinary medicine programs in the US. The selection process just to get accepted assures the best of the best are graduating as veterinarians.
Selecting a veterinarian comes down to your personal needs. Are you emotionally invested in your pets? Beyond the wellness care and vaccines, do you want to be educated on their needs. Can your veterinarian break down their findings, review the differentials and explain your options in a manner that enables you to be a partner in the treatment and medication decisions? Is it important for you to have this level of understanding to feel good about the decisions you make for your pet? If the answer is yes, interview your vet on the first visit! If these early questions are not answered well, keep looking.
Thank you for taking the time to read through these suggestions for choosing a new veterinarian. Dr. Schaller and myself wanted to share with new clients what we offer here at Willow Creek. It’s an uncommon mix to find a veterinarian that graduated in the top of her class from one of the top 3 schools in the nation practicing medicine in a hospital run with her husband the rocket scientist. Beyond the education and years of experience, you have two people that have been together for over 30 years. Our personal success comes from compassion, respect, integrity, and a love for what we do. These are the things that define the culture in our hospital.
If they are much more than pets, if you want the best for them, please consider stopping by to meet us and take a hospital tour. If you are ready to book that first appointment call 919-776-1920 M-F 7am-6pm or email me right now!
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