Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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Page 44 of 67

43 October/November 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM I should note that shame can play a tremendous role in the re- sistance to seek medical attention. Certainly, fears about immigration status can play a role in some cases, but more often shame and fear of deliberate marginalization due to poor language skills shapes one's willingness to seek basic help. Requesting help requires an admission of vulnerability, and when a lack of understanding due to a language gap is present, the risk-reward proposition might be too lopsided for some clients. So, where does all this leave veterinary professionals? Enter Academia and the Online World Well, for starters, it all explains why veterinary colleges are increas- ingly offering Spanish-language programming. If new graduates are to be prepared to work with an increasingly diverse clientele, then a real need exists for multilingual veterinary professionals. We can recruit students who pos- sess those skills, and we can offer opportunities for language acquisition and development. The language gap also suggests that seasoned profession- als might benefit from learning the basics of languages other than English. Underserved populations of pet own- ers and a closely aligned workforce are unable to fully access veterinary medical care because of the language gap. This situation not only creates a loss of income for veterinarians but is a public health and food security concern that has far broader impli- cations than just whether Dr. Smith can communicate with Ms. Cortez. In addition to being inten- tional about hiring multilingual staff members to bridge the gaps, you can tap numerous resources. Medical language apps designed Diversity Toolbox columnist Dr. Lisa M. Greenhill is senior director for insti- tutional research and diversity at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. for iOS and Android smartphones can assist with immediate transla- tion and basic vocabu- lary. Google Translate is a great free application that, while not medically oriented, can translate text and voice verbally in real time to help bridge gaps in the exam room and on the farm. The program also offers a webpage widget that can be installed and allows visitors to translate your practice's webpage into other languages. While the program does not offer a perfect translation, it is useful for basic translation and can be supple- mented with additional resources. In-office resources can include books like William C. Harvey's "Spanish for Health Care Profes- sionals." Consider stocking bro- chures in more than one language on common veterinary ailments and conditions. The American Vet- erinary Medical Association offers numerous brochures in English and Spanish, among them information about dog-bite prevention and the basics of pet ownership and a child's guide to veterinary careers. You can go online, too, to access resources designed to facilitate language acquisition by medical personnel. These include, YouTube's "Language Tailor Medical Spanish" and the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association's Med- ical Chinese classes. English-language proficiency can and should be promoted, but a professional effort is needed to help bridge the gap. Animal and public health depend on it. providing awareness and tools to improve well-being. Vet schools now employ full-time counselors. Workplaces offer employee as- sistance programs. Professional conferences feature wellness tracks. Four-day work weeks with gener- ous paid time off and sick days have become the norm. Perhaps most importantly, we're beginning to un- derstand that it's OK to ask for help. "Mommy, I Wanna Be a Vet When I Grow Up" A good friend and partner in our WellHaven Pet Health group practice, John, tells a story that I'll paraphrase. It's not so optimistic to start with, so bear with me. John is a business guy who fell in love with our profession many years ago. On his first day in veteri- nary medicine almost 20 years ago he put on a pair of scrubs and went to work as an assistant in a busy general practice. Toward closing, a hit-by-car case came rushing through the door. The bleeding German shepherd was held by a father trying to keep his emotions in check in front of his children. The owner thrust the dog into John's arms, mistaking him for the vet. The vet quickly took control from John, calmed the client, assessed the patient and went to work. Several hours later, John and the doctor were walking to their cars. John was reflecting on the amazing work he'd witnessed, the dedication, the intelligence and the emotional depth required to com- municate with the client, treat the pet, direct the team and perform the necessary procedures. John was amazed and hooked for life on our great profession. As they each turned to go to their cars that cold winter evening, they exchanged goodbyes. John no- ticed a sag in the doctor's shoulders as she unlocked her car. John asked if she was OK. When she turned, she was sobbing and shared that this was the fourth night in a row she had missed both dinner and tucking her little girl into bed for the night. She went on to say that her daughter had expressed interest in becoming a vet just like Mommy but that she had reluctantly dis- couraged her daughter because of nights just like this one. John was shocked, and he vowed right then that while he could never be a veterinarian, he would do everything he could to better support a more positive work-life balance. He had a vision to build and support practices that might have emergencies at closing time but that also would provide a hospital environment that em- braced wellness, protected teams from burnout and strove to keep the childhood passion alive. Fast-forward 20 years. Our WellHaven practice is opening a number of beautiful, new AAHA practices and purchasing remark- able hospitals. We've worked hard to create a workplace environment in which doctors and their teams are supported, empowered and encouraged to stay with our profes- sion and practice for years to come. John now tells the story of a recent hospital opening during which sev- eral veterinarians mused that they would be proud if their children chose to follow in their footsteps. I know that some in our field are not recommending the profes- sion. It breaks my heart. Ours can be very demanding work, but the rewards are tremendous and prom- ise to get even better in the years ahead. I recommend our profession to anyone who asks and to many who don't. Do you recall the words of bril- liant philosophers Pooh and Piglet? "What day is it?" asked Pooh. "It's today," squeaked Piglet. "My favorite day," said Pooh. There's never been a better time to be a veterinary professional. Choose optimism. Creative Disruption columnist Dr. Bob Lester is chief medical officer of Well- Haven Pet Health and a founding member of Banfield Pet Hospital and the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on the North American Veterinary Community board of directors. If new graduates are to be prepared to work with an increasingly diverse clientele, then a real need exists for multilingual veterinary professionals. Continued from Page 41

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