Choosing the Right Vet – by Dr. Amanda Glew
One of the most common questions that I am asked is how does a person choose the right vet? It seems an easy answer, but more often than not, choosing a vet is like choosing your GP (except you don’t have to wait as long to get an appointment, but you have to pay) or choosing a dentist (the cost is similar to what to expect at a vet, give or take a little).
The most important thing is establishing a relationship with the veterinary clinic – it is nice to know the support staff as well as the professionals. This doesn’t mean you need to go often, but there is an advantage in “dropping by” to weigh your animal, buying a bag of food, or if they have a boutique, buying your animal companion a treat.
Other than liking the personnel as well as the vet, you must decide on what kind of service you are looking for. There is now a change from small 1-4 person clinics, to huge corporate clinics. There are advantages and disadvantages to both- a small clinic provides you with a more intimate contact with the staff, there is more likelihood to get the vet you want, and the service is usually more personal. However, for big cases, they likely have to refer you. The larger clinics are more like hospitals- they usually offer more hours as well as specialty services, but it is possible to get lost in the shuffle, and feel like you and your animal are just a number. So it depends on your personality- if you just want in and out vet care, and availability is more important than knowing your vet, then a larger clinic is for you.
For some, a very important aspect is being able to use your veterinarian as a resource- not only for your animal, but for animal related incidents. An example would be how my daughter recently found a raccoon still alive by the side of a road, who had been hit by a car. Being my daughter, she could not leave it to “die” and wrapped it up in a towel, and brought it to a local clinic. How the staff showed empathy and help direct her is an important indication of their concern. We all know how with social media, a positive comment can help spread your reputation, and the opposite is just as true.
I am proud to be a part of the many vet clinics that I have worked in, and feel and hope that I may contribute to develop their reputation as a caring, empathetic, service oriented vet clinic.
I had considered a larger corporate clinic when I left, but find that with any large entities (teaching at the college level have proven this), you are governed by more rules. This leaves you with less ability to make decisions based on common sense, but based on the regulations. There is nothing wrong with this, an example being making post-dated payments on a procedure that costs a lot. If in a large corporation, and the policy is “no”, there is nothing to do. But in a smaller business, you can easily reach a decision maker and make exceptions. There is nothing more devastating in our business when there is a problem you can fix, but are forced to euthanize the animal- not because the owner doesn’t want to pay, but because they have financial constraints, and can only pay over time. Inflexibility tends to occur more in larger businesses.
So take your time to decide what is important to you and your animal. Remember, if you find yourself disagreeing with a policy your clinic imposes, question them on it. Give them a chance to reflect and change. If they cannot satisfy your needs, you as the paying customer can leave.