Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

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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45 February/March 2019 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM coaching or mentoring, worked five- and six-day weeks, were required to take on-call duty, received little or no benefits, endured sometimes less than ideal workplace cultures, dealt with un- derstaffed hospitals, and enjoyed maybe one week of vacation a year. That was then, this is now. No one wants to hear the story, again, about our first day on the job when the boss went to Hawaii, leaving us all alone to figure it out. Get over it. Today's hires don't have to take that job and they won't. They have multiple job offers and the freedom to pick where they want to work. For practices struggling to hire associate veterinarians, I have a couple of questions. First, are you providing what today's veterinary professionals are looking for? Second, do you have a hiring prob- lem or a do you have a retention problem? Frequently, the answer is retention, not hiring. If that's the case, do you offer flex schedules, generous vacation time, a healthy culture, and the opportunity to learn and grow? If you don't, your employees will find it elsewhere. A quick aside. Work-life balance means different things to different people. While some of us might wish to work three days a week and spend more time with family, others might choose to work more days in service to their student debt. The white coat on and off philosophy starts with listening. It starts with open conversations with new and prospective hires to identify what a balanced life means to them. Remember why we take jobs: culture, autonomy, an opportuni- ty to make a difference and give back, and money. Money usually ranks somewhere down the list; it's rarely first or second. Some of the big players in our profession might impress applicants with enormous sign-on bonuses, but they can't compete with a fun workplace, friends at work, autonomy, a good boss, a sincere desire to partner in coaching and mentoring, work-life satisfaction, and the joy of work- ing in a stable, happy, dedicated team environment. The Retention Equation The challenge for employers today is to find and retain great doctors and nurses. In the human resourc- es world, hiring is just one step. When it comes to new veterinari- ans, the hiring life cycle might start with a campus job fair or school partnership. At selection time, open-ended behavior-based inter- viewing focused on known success competencies are essential. Once hired, the team members should be oriented using a comprehen- sive onboarding program. As they settle in, multiple professional development opportunities should be provided. If you do all this well, then you'll see retention. Leave a piece out and you won't. If you think you are interview- ing candidates to find an applicant good enough for your open posi- tion, whoa, back up. Today's appli- cants are interviewing you to see if your job is good enough for them. They likely have three or more jobs to choose from. Remember princi- ple No. 1: In today's economy, there are more jobs to fill than applicants to fill them. New and recent graduates are a great source of talent. Newer vet- erinary schools like Calgary, Lincoln Memorial and Western University, along with some legacy schools, are partnering with quality, pro- gressive practices in educating clinical-year students in a commu - nity-based affiliate relationship. A number of technician/nurse schools have similar programs. Practices using these partner- ships collaborate in educating stu- dents in a busy, quality, real-world setting. It's a sort of internship without the extra year and expense (and compounded student debt). Participating practice owners gain the satisfaction of helping to shape future colleagues and land a po- tential new hire upon graduation. The school gains a cost-effective, high-caseload, quality, real-world learning environment. Think about it. What is a better way to prepare new graduates for practice than having them learn in a real-world practice situation? The students build confidence and competence, receive mentorship and coaching, and perhaps land a job. Win, win, win. Partners for the Future As employers of new and recent graduates, we know well the com- petencies that best correlate with success outside the ivy-covered halls of academia. They are not class rank, GRE score or GPA. We look for skills like communication, collaboration, grit, leadership and basic financial acumen. These com- petencies are stressed and includ- ed as part of the core curriculum in new-model schools. As a clinical affiliate partner with Lincoln Memorial University, WellHaven Pet Health is able to reinforce the modeling and teaching of these skills, and we are able to identify students who already demonstrate entry-level competence. WellHaven practices have hosted a number of remarkable fourth-year veterinary students, and we work hard to hire them at graduation. We look forward to offering them the chance to con- tribute to our great profession and put their life first. Life first, career second. White coat off before white coat on. Additionally, we've had the opportunity to serve on veterinary school admissions committees and advisory boards, and participate in on-campus teaching and speaking events. The partnership oppor- tunity between new educational models and new employer models is enormous. Everyone wins. Dr. Victor Trask, past CEO of Mayo Clinic Arizona, when speaking about training medical students, said: "By hiring our own trainees [MDs], we can pick the best of the best. And they've seen us, and they're going to stay be- cause they want to stay." Why do they choose to stay? Because they've worked there as a student, they know the culture, they know the expectations and they want to be part of the team. A new kind of educational model is needed to best prepare graduates for today's rapidly changing workplace. A new kind of employer can win in today's game of hiring. While the applicant pool might not be as large as employers would like, the quality of applicant has never been better. There's never been a better time to be a veterinary professional. Dr. Bob Lester is Chief Medical Officer of WellHaven Pet Health and a found- ing 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 you think you are interviewing candidates to find an applicant good enough for your open position, whoa, back up. Today's applicants are interviewing you to see if your job is good enough for them.

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