Practice Management News and Views from around the World – March 2012

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New Element Discovered

Queens University researchers have discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (symbol=Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called pillocks. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 to 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration

This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (symbol=Ad), an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many pillocks but twice as many morons.

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Management Solutions for Veterinary Practice

New book from Pere Mercader DVM MBA now available in English


This really is an excellent new book from one of the most highly respected veterinary practice business consultants in Spain and Portugal. Pere worked with AVEPA (the Spanish Small Animal Veterinary Association) to found the IVEE (Veterinary Institute of Economic Studies) and has spoken widely on practice management in more than 20 countries in the United States, South America, Europe and the Far East

You can click here to contact the publisher to purchase your copy of Management Solutions for Veterinary Practice in English or Spanish.

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The Benefits of Doing Something Uncomfortable

by Anne Bachrach

Summary: Do you find yourself avoiding new situations because they make you uncomfortable? It’s normal to feel apprehensive before you try something different or face a new challenge, but stepping outside your comfort zone can lead to big rewards.

Doesn’t that sound confusing? Why would you want to do something uncomfortable? Don’t we go out of our way to get away from stress and doing things that make us uncomfortable? Yes, but there is clearly a difference between the discomfort of unfamiliarity and the recurrence of distressful feelings. For example, at one time you were afraid to go swimming. Now you enjoy it. You may not have liked eating spinach when you were young and now you enjoy eating it. You were once afraid of applying for that first big job, but now that you have a career you enjoy, you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Good things in life come to those who take risks. If you avoid any new experiences then you are missing out on the best that life has to offer. The longer that you wait, procrastinate, or cower in fear, the more “comfortable” you are getting with the status quo…and that’s not a very fun place to be.

Before you go any further, ask yourself if you are happy. Are you happy in your current state or do you ever dream of doing something else, something more? Do you think reaching out to other people, or a new hobby, or eating healthier, or even a new job, or doing anything you view as uncomfortable could be a rewarding experience? If the answer is yes then you have already decided that this is what you want to do. Now it’s just a matter of making up your mind to overcoming your fears. Once people get settled into a routine it can be difficult to break. People may run on a sort of “autopilot” that takes them from point A to point B with little to no thought.

The first step in changing your life for the better is to get away from this thoughtless comfort zone. That’s right, it’s time to break the routine. Once you are out of this comfort zone, you will be more willing to take risks. After all, you start to think again, no longer content with the automatic processes your brain has become accustomed to. It all starts by deciding to take action. Decide that it’s time to do something new that you may have been afraid to do in the past or something that will make you take a risk and be uncomfortable, to take up a new hobby, to learn something new, to go visit a new place–all of these things are a break in the routine.

Of course, the problem here is that many people are afraid to take that first step and take action. The idea of making a major change may even lead to feelings of deep anxiety and self-doubt. The first step to overcoming this fear of the unknown is to learn a little bit more about the human mind. Realize that human beings are highly adaptive creatures, just as all animals are. Our bodies and minds are able to adapt to many difficult situations. Historically, human beings have lived amidst violence, poverty and other undesirable conditions for many years, sometimes for their entire life.

How did they do it? They simply lived. Their bodies and minds adjusted to the surroundings and these people continued to function as best they could. Sometimes adrenaline is responsible for a person’s survival and sometimes it’s craftiness. The point is that once the human mind panics, the body will do whatever it has to do in order to pull through a difficult situation.

You must plan on some failure in life. Although it’s rather dramatic to think of some common scenarios as a “failure.” Psychology teaches that the best way to cure someone of a phobia is to confront that object gradually. So if you fear the act of failing then you have to allow yourself to fail. You have to take a risk and be willing to lose — not that you will. This starts the process of ridding your mind of the fear of failure, and thus the fear of trying anything new.

Try to understand that everyone has “failed” at something at some given point. Even the most successful people in the world once failed and looked silly in front of all their friends. Everyone has embarrassed themselves and everyone has fallen “flat on their face”, figuratively and probably literally speaking. Don’t assume that when you try something new for the first time you are going fail. Assume you will achieve what you set out to and if for some reason you don’t have a positive outcome, it will be okay and life won’t end. You might stumble a little at first, just as any beginner would. As you continue this learning process over time you will start to improve and learn to enjoy trying things that are uncomfortable or that may scare you to do.

Some Helpful Advice

Two things that will help you get started are a list of goals (including those that might make you uncomfortable or scare you) and a reliable buddy system. Write the list of goals that you want to accomplish first. They should be short-term goals that have a long-term perspective in mind. Next, enlist the aid of a friend to help you accomplish those goals. Naturally, it’s easy to give up when you are the only one trying. A friend can provide that emotional support that you need.

If you want to conquer your fears once and for all and start living the life you dreamed of as a carefree youngster, then take decisive action. Make up your mind that you can do anything you set your mind to achieving and that you will be successful at whatever you decide to do. What’s the worst that can happen? Typically it won’t be as bad as you may initially think it will be. Doing things that may initially be uncomfortable or scary will eventually inspire you and get easier to attempt as time goes on. You may even wonder why you were so afraid in the first place. Realize your true potential by stretching yourself. Enjoy the results.

You can click here to visit the Business Know How website

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IVPD Business Workshops and Congress May 2012


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V Bay has landed!!


“Veterinary Business Advertising” …..with you in charge of your own advertisements. is a new website, exclusively for the veterinary sector, which brings together a wide range of products and services in one place, allowing veterinary professionals to research what is available, contact sellers, buy online and even sell their own second hand veterinary items to one another!

“It is not often that a completely novel service is brought to the veterinary market” says Caroline Johnson, who co-founded the site with her husband Jeremy. “So we are delighted to fill the gap in this market with, allowing veterinary buyers and sellers to conduct their own business in the same way that they would if they were doing their own personal shopping; offers convenience and choice, including both classified advertising and auctions. The categories on the site will be expanded with time, so if any veterinary business needs a particular category on there and they cannot see it, we are asking people to get in touch and we’ll change things”. is officially due for launch in March. Meantime, suppliers are being urged to take up an early bird offer of a free month’s advertising during the pre-launch period and place as many ads as they want during the offer period! Simply register at, let Caroline, Jeremy or Kristina know that you’re interested in the offer and they will tell you what to do next.

You can click here to visit the V-Bay website

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Sureflap says ‘savvy’ reception staff can boost practice profits


The role that front-of-house staff can take in enhancing customer experience and satisfaction is being highlighted by SureFlap, the microchip pet door company, at BSAVA Congress.

The skill of receptionists at interpreting client needs can be key to boosting business profitability. Judith Bank, Marketing Manager says: “It has been notable to us how a proactive reception team can make a significant difference to the number of SureFlap cat flaps a practice can sell. Over the year this can produce a good source of additional revenue for little investment.

“Many owners decide to purchase a SureFlap when their pet is becoming stressed by intruder cats. Stress can be manifested in a physical illness that is being treated by the vet, but it is often the receptionist chatting to the owner while they are waiting that can identify the root cause of the problem and recommend a solution.”

Jude Latham-Timmins is the reception supervisor at the Zetland Veterinary Hospital in Bristol, which is part of a group with a further six branches. She agrees that part of her role is customer care.

“I have worked in customer facing roles all my working life and the secret is to listen carefully and respond appropriately. On reception we get to know the clients and have a chat with them generally about pet related topics and you can get an understanding of other things that might be concerning them”. “A frequent concern for cat owners is a sudden change in behaviour, for example the cat has started to pee inside or they seem more stressed and act strange. In these cases I would explore with them what has changed in the pet’s environment.

“It often emerges that the pet has been frightened by another cat getting into the house and that is when I start to ask about the type of cat flap they have. “I have been really pleased with my own SureFlap microchip operated cat flap and have found it excellent at keeping out intruders. A number of my colleagues also have them and we have a display stand in the reception area with a soft toy for demonstrating how it works.

The SureFlap microchip cat flap recognises a cat’s individual microchip, and will only open for cats whose identity is stored in it. It uses patented low-power RFID technology developed in Cambridge (UK) by Dr Nick Hill, and runs on 4xAA batteries. Recommended by vets, SureFlap works with all European microchips types (and most common types worldwide except those with codes beginning 000…, 010… and 020…) and can be programmed to recognise up to 32 cats.

SureFlap will be offering its ‘starter’ kit of a microchip cat flap mounted in a demonstration stand and a microchipped toy cat at BSAVA Congress. All visitors to the stand will also be entered in a prize draw to win a portrait of their own pet and can take away a mini version of the SureFlap mascot cat, Newton.

You can click here to visit the Sureflap website

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Do you need a practice manager?

From an article published online in the Hills newsletter

Taking on a practice manager is no small decision. Sometimes it may seem hard to justify when a heavy workload could be more obviously reduced by taking on another vet or vet nurse. We took a look at some of the reasons why practices should consider recruiting a practice manager.

Cost It might seem that the cost of employing a practice manager prohibits the idea but consider who is carrying out that work currently. It is probable that the role is split between a number of individuals with the senior partner(s) and head nurse likely to be shouldering most of the burden. Can the time of those individuals be charged out at a higher rate than it would cost to employ a practice manager? If that’s the case then it could be a very cost effective move.

Objectivity Practice managers are part of the team but can also remain objective when it comes to decisions about preparing rotas and booking in holiday time. This can be useful in terms of reducing bias and resentment and is more likely to be viewed as ‘fair’. Of course the opposite is true — sometimes if the person preparing the rota also works within the rota system, they feel obliged to take on the most onerous duties and that pressure is also removed.

Focus A practice manager is fully focused on running the practice as a business. This means that tasks are not squeezed in to the odd spare minute and there is much less room for procrastination.

Forward Planning A consequence of this focus is that time is available for forward planning. Allocating budgets, preparing marketing plans and targets all gives the business something to aim for and encourages growth, compared to a more ad-hoc ‘on the hoof’ approach./p

Organisation Putting structures in place can save time and money and reduce stress. A practice manager will take a more methodical view of the business and ensure that it runs smoothly.

Horses for Courses Did you really become a vet or vet nurse, to carry out administration and management tasks? Is it something you see as a necessary evil? If people do what they are best at, the business will thrive and individuals will be happier.

Attention to detail If you don’t have a practice manager, can you honestly say, hand on heart, that price rises are passed on straight away, that the practice doesn’t carry too much stock that’s slow to turn over, that every equipment check is carried out in a timely manner?

Independent view Sometimes members of the team don’t want to talk directly to the boss — particularly if they perceive the boss as part of the problem! Having an independent person who is part of the management structure but not a direct line manager, to go to with grievances or personal issues can be invaluable.

Perception Often practice managers are recruited from outside the profession but even when they are not, they bring a pair of fresh eyes to the practice situation and they look at the business from a different perspective. This means they are very likely to raise issues that you didn’t even realise existed, even though they were in plain view. An additional consideration is that suppliers, accountants and banks may perceive your practice as running more effectively when a practice manager is in place and this may change the relationship you have with them.

Skills Practice managers often bring another set of skills with them — whether that is in accountancy, retailing, human resource management or IT. Most people agree that bringing a vet with a specialism into the team would add an extra dimension to the service that can be offered to clients. Having a specialist at work on your business can do exactly the same thing.

You can click here to visit the Hills website

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