After 25 years of private clinical practice, I have finally come full circle: from small-town mixed practice, through relief work and small animal suburban practice, and back again to mixed practice in a small rural town. One common factor in all the successful practices at which I have worked is caring.
The most obvious aspect of caring in our practices is, of course, caring for our patients. We’re all in this because we love animals, so that’s the easy part. There may always be that “cat from hell” which tests the reserves of your compassion, but even then you probably realize that the kitty is just trying to cope with an untenable situation. Ninety-nine percent of the time our patients receive the full benefit of our love and concern for their well-being.
However, the caring that you express for your co-workers can be the backbone of a great practice. At the best businesses at which I have been privileged to work, it truly felt as if we were family. If you have that level of concern for your co-workers, it’s easy to trust and rely on each other, and to give others the benefit of the doubt. Supporting each other when problems arise, and celebrating your colleagues’ successes together, leads to a happy and cohesive work environment–and the effect is contagious!
And of course, it is essential to demonstrate your compassion for your clients and their families. This is truly the crux of the successful practice. If you treat clients as if they are your family, and their pets like your pets, they will take notice (and they will come back). Put yourself in their shoes, and demonstrate the same concern for them that you would hope to receive in a similar situation.
Personally, I actually find it easier to cope with the stresses of practice when I have positive, meaningful relationships with my patients, co-workers and clients. Believing that I can make a difference in someone’s life gives me strength. And, by sharing your caring with others, you’ll feel better about yourself at the end of the day!