Why the Traditional Team Model Doesn’t Work for Veterinary Practices

by Dr. Stacee Santi

Last October my Mom collapsed.  We were all shocked and worried sick as she was transported to 4 hours away to Albuquerque during the middle of the night while my Dad followed the ambulance in his car sucking down 5 Hour Energy drinks.  They thought it was her heart, her blood pressure medicine, her sciatica.  But it was none of that….it was a random abscess in her left stifle joint resulting in septic shock.

It was a wake up call to me to try to figure out what to do with myself.  I was practicing medicine and managing a 4 doctor, 7 day hospital and never being able to get home at a reasonable time which was straining any constructive relationships or time for myself.  I had a wonderful, majorly hard working team, a top notch hospital manager and wonderful clients.  So why were the last 5 years so hard?  Because the current team model doesn’t work anymore.

I graduated CSU in 1996 and it was the second year that they forced the students to “track”.  They took a risk and abandoned the “general” education where students were taught everything there is to know about dogs, cats, horses, cows, swine and small ruminants like goats and llamas.  BECAUSE….it is too much to learn and CSU realized that it might be better to be really good at a few things rather than mediocre at a bunch of things. 

People were panicked…Would they pass their boards?  Would they be able to get a job?  My biggest concern if I tracked small animal:  What would I do if I stumbled upon a cow in a field that needed help calving?  I knew of this risk as I had recently seen City Slickers.

As it turned out the class of 1996 did quite well.  We focused on our chosen favorite species and passed our boards. We got jobs and now 20 years later we have turned out some pretty major influencers from AAHA presidents and board members, to Sea World veterinarians, to CSU faculty, practice consultants and hard working veterinarians all over the world.

With all the current discussion about well being, burnout, compassion fatigue, it boils down to what CSU knew in 1996….it’s just too much for the traditional “doctor + manager” 2 person leadership team to handle.  It is time we start to explore options in organizational structure.  And who will benefit?  Our patients and more importantly, our profession.

After I got back from my 6 week leave to care for my Mom, who recovered but has a permanent reminder of the event in the form of a chronic left hind lameness, I decided it was time for a change.  I met with my doctors and we sat down and talked.  I explained I was going to be able to handle it anymore and kindly offered up my amazing job to the first taker.  But no one jumped out of their seat with enthusiasm.  I believe the general consensus was “No freaking way” but we don’t need to go into all of that.

The solution:  Collaborative Leadership.  We divided the leadership jobs with each person agreeing to take on the tasks they didn’t hate.  As it turns out, each person was able to bring amazing talents to the table that were particularly compatible with certain jobs.  Love science and cells…..great, you’ll take on new product evaluation.  Love analytics and organization….great, you’ll take on the doctor schedule and vacation requests.  Love chatting with the staff and knowing the 411….great, you’ll take on the staff reviews along with the HM.  This was the beginning of a new way of doing things and a couple of things happened.  I didn’t feel so burdened with all the responsibilities of running a multimillion dollar company and my new leadership team felt empowered and engaged. 

Apparently your employees don’t really like being told what to do in the first place.  Apparently your employees are grown adults with some very good morals and ethics that when given some freedom, can make your life insanely better than it is now. It turns into a new job of hiring the right people that believe in the mission and trusting the process is the key that will unlock a new path for leadership that is desperately necessary in our profession. 

And, after 20 years I haven’t yet needed to rescue a calf in a neighbor’s pasture but as I take my evening walks each night, I keep my eye open for Norman.


23rd of September 2017 08:11 AM
OMG! The cat!! 😂😂
22nd of September 2017 01:57 PM
Great advice from our friends at IT Guru:

Apple Releases iOS 11 – IT-Guru recommends waiting to perform upgrade on your Apple devices!

It’s that time of year when Apple announces their next release of their iPhone 8 with a new iOS 11 operating system. You may see the option to upgrade to this new release in the coming days and we are requesting you wait to upgrade as this new iOS 11 is significantly different. After it has been out for a while and they have released at least 1-2 updates, is when we would recommend going forward. (Example 11.1.x may be a better time to make the update)

There have been announcements from some of the apps stating their app isn’t ready for the new iOS 11 updates. So if there are important features you want to assure work on your Apple device, it is extremely important to make you’re your device supports iOS 11. Thus the reason to wait until at least until Thanksgiving or even closer to Christmas, to assure this release is really ready for your device.

Lastly depending on your device, you may not want to upgrade as it may be fairly old and not handle this upgrade very well. Only newer devices within the last 3-4 years should be considered and if you have anything older like iPHone 4 or 4s it isn’t supported at all. Below is their supported list. But again some of the older devices although they support this upgrade may not run it so well. So we highly suggest iPhone 6 and above, iPad Air and above.

If you do decide to upgrade, we cannot guarantee compatibility with things like Office email, calendar and contacts right now until we test. If you decide to migrate and have issues going back to what you had can be difficult so assuring you have a good backup of your device prior to the upgrade is a MUST DO. We will request you work with Apple support direct to roll you back as your best option of support. (Apple store or Apple Phone support). We just are not in a position to assist with mobile device upgrades until we fully test these ourselves. Depending on feedback, we may even wait to see if there are issues and that time frame may be early December as we watch forums on others that have gone through the update.

“You can't send or reply from Outlook.com, Office 365, or Exchange 2016 in iOS 11 Mail.app Symptoms
In the native Mail app (Mail.app) on your iPhone or iPad, you can't send or reply from your Outlook.com, Office 365, or Exchange Server 2016 email account after you upgrade to iOS 11.
Note: These issues don’t occur in iOS 10.
Cause: This issue occurs because the Mail app on iOS 11 is not compatible with Outlook.com, Office 365, or Exchange Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016”.
(Source: https://support.microsoft.com)
Thanks in advance for your time and hoping this helps answer questions on if you should upgrade to iOS 11.

Our professional advice is to let others roll this out, do the testing and have Apple provide a few fixes, before rolling up to the new release assuring the apps you use will work.
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21st of September 2017 04:18 PM
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