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Lillian Clegg and Melissa Stedman Named VHMA 2019 Emerging Leader Scholarship Recipients

Saturday, January 26, 2019   (1 Comments)
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The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) has announced that Lillian Clegg and Melissa Stedman are the association’s 2019 Emerging Leaders Program scholarship recipients. The prestigious two-year program affords VHMA members opportunities to refine their skills and enhance their professional development. The 2019 recipients are motivated and accomplished managers whose commitment to advancing their practices, The VHMA and the industry make them ideal candidates for the scholarship.


According to VHMA Executive Director, Christine Q. Shupe, CAE, “We had a great pool of applicants, and VHMA is delighted to see that this program is generating so much enthusiasm among the association’s young professionals. Lillian and Melissa stood out because of their determination, temerity, and concern for others…characteristics necessary to lead effectively.  Emerging Leaders can be a career-changing opportunity, and I am confident that the 2019 recipients will use the program and resources to further their management and leadership skills.”


Meet the Leaders


Lillian Clegg began her career at Valley Cottage Animal Hospital in Valley Cottage, NY, in 2008 as a client experience representative and cross-trained as a kennel attendant and veterinary assistant. During her journey, she served as team leader, office manager, and eventually, client and patient experience director. A significant challenge she faced as she advanced involved changing a toxic hospital culture to one that employees were excited to be a part of.


When the hospital hired a consultant who tasked the management team with creating a new hospital brand culture, Clegg, as a member of the team, worked closely with the consultant and soon understood the influence that a leader can have on the workplace culture. For managers to impact the culture, they must become leaders and lead the team to a better reality.


Determined to lead, rather than manage, Clegg asked herself what qualities make an effective leader. She created a list of attributes: someone whose expectations for staff do not exceed expectations for self, someone who encourages open conversation and is nonjudgmental, someone who is fair and honest, someone who follows through, and finally, someone who, to the best of their ability, keeps promises. Clegg turned this list into the strategy that she would follow to transform her behavior to become a change agent.


Transitioning was a challenging process for Clegg because she was required to move outside her comfort zone and navigate, acknowledge and address the hospital’s toxic terrain in order to improve it. She used her skillset to impact the culture. The results, although positive, require continuous attention to ensure that the organization can sustain the benefits ushered in.


Clegg’s experience has raised her awareness about the importance of understanding the difference between leading and managing and has helped her see the importance of motivating staff and meeting their needs and responding to their concerns.


As an Emerging Leader, Clegg would like to collaborate with the VHMA to expand the resources available to managers to support their teams. One issue, in particular, resonates with hercompassion fatigue.  She believes there are a variety of strategies for addressing compassion fatigue including, continuing education, webinars and wellness programs within the hospitals/clinics.


“I feel that bringing attention to the issues practice managers face on a daily basis in regards to supporting their staff will help to create new bonds between practice owners and their managers/management teams and I am excited to work with VHMA to explore ways to make this happen,” said Clegg.


Melissa Stedman, West Chester Medical Center, West Chester, PA, began her career in the veterinary industry more than 13 years ago as a kennel technician. Her plan to become a certified veterinary technician was modified after being seriously injured while attending to a dog. Still very much interested in working in the veterinary field, she opted to pursue veterinary management instead. Over the years she worked in a number of positions and eventually became the practice manager of a hospital with over seven million dollars in annual sales, 60 employees, approximately 12,000 active clients, and a dysfunctional culture.


Concerned, but undeterred by the office climate, she realized that the negative atmosphere would not improve until a strategy to address the root causes was identified and implemented. She turned to her more experienced colleagues and peers for guidance, information, and support and joined a local VHMA practice management group. Networking with more experienced managers helped her immensely. As a newer manager, she fought against the impulse to censor her questions because of concerns about being judged for what some might call naïveté. She questioned, listened, evaluated and implemented the advice she received.


“For me, it was essential to clearly outline my concerns, potential solutions and questions to those I was asking for advice. They were not judging me. They were interested in helping. With that attitude, I was able to be transparent about my situation and open to all suggestions. I truly appreciated the generous and honest feedback my colleagues readily provided,” Stedman said.


Stedman’s efforts paid off, and soon she was successfully moved forward with solutions that helped transform the work environment.


As an Emerging Leader, she is committed to guiding others, especially managers who are entering the field. “It's easy to feel very alone when you are a practice manager. Networking with other, more experienced managers can be a tremendous help,” she said. Stedman also noted that new managers often request advice and guidance about practice issues, but she encouraged them to be candid about issues related to emotional wellbeing and compassion fatigue. She said, “Open up and reach out to colleagues for support and guidance.”


The Perks of the Program


Each Emerging Leader receives an annual scholarship of $2,500, which can be used to offset the cost of the VHMA annual meeting and conference registration and travel and/or applied to the Certified Veterinary Practice Management (CVPM) credential process and the CVPM preparation workbook.


Emerging Leaders are required to give back to the association and share their talents by serving on a standing committee, joining the Emerging Leaders Focus Group, attending VHMA annual meetings and conferences, conducting a VHMA webinar or submitting an article for publication in Practice Pulse, serving as an ambassador to promote the program, and earning the CVPM designation.


For more information.


Cody Waldrop says...
Posted Monday, January 28, 2019

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