VHMA Emerging Leader
Great Lakes Hospital for Animals
April 7, 2008, was my first day as a Veterinary Practice Manager. Our hospital culture was changing. We had a new owner with a strong vision and a renewed mission. We all knew that change was necessary and for years, we desired it. I was driven, excited, motivated, quite nervous, and upon reflection, immensely naive. This was not a career that I had planned and I was delighted with the challenging opportunity. I was certain that I could make up for my lack of experience, my shortcomings and my inadequacies by reading, researching and plain old hard work. I would eventually “get it” and be successful.
And it worked, for a while...
What I didn't recognize was that our team members didn't share the same vision. In fact, they were actually standing in the way of our success. They dug in their heels with every new initiative. There were hushed whispers, rolling eyes and outright refusals to participate. I was not prepared for their response nor did I understand it. So I continued to forge ahead, around, over and through our team. I had completely missed how unsettling change can be to a team.
In the middle of these issues, the economy dealt the practice a serious blow and we needed to restructure. As we rebuilt, I learned it’s all about hiring the right people, cultivating character, setting and managing expectations, providing opportunities for self-management, being solution-oriented, providing regular communication, praising others and remaining flexible.
I have learned that there is not a finish line in practice management---success is a journey, not a destination--- and I am becoming more comfortable with that concept.