When choosing a veterinary clinic you must follow these steps in order to ensure your pet and you are completely satisfied with your choice. Choosing the right veterinarian and an associated clinic is important for a number of reasons:
- Your pet's life and quality of life will depend on it
- Your peace of mind will depend on it
- Your wallet will depend on it
This choice is very much a part of the overall responsibility you took on when you decided to add a pet to your family. You are responsible for your pet's health and well being. Part of that is to provide it with ongoing healthcare and emergency intervention when necessary. To that end, finding the right veterinary clinic is essential.
Let's take a look at how to make the right choice:
- Do some "leg" work: Flip through the local phone book and "google" clinics for your town. Create as broad a list as you can so that you may begin the process of elimination.
- Reputation: Get a sense for which clinics and veterinarians are most spoken of in your area. It is true that those with both good and bad reputations will surface quickly. Great sources for this are your local shelter and other pet owners in your vicinity. Do not just take their word for it, though. The old adage is "you can't please all the people, all the time" applies here. That said, you will at least have a starting point, a reduced list of candidates that will be useful.
- Time to Get Social: Yup! Social Media has caught up with Vets. Take your list and determine whether each has a website and / or a Twitter / FaceBook account. If not, it may indicate that the clinic is not taking full advantage of the ability to provide information and stay in touch with their clients. Those that are doing so will provide you with the ability to learn more about their operations and its philosophy. Are they frequent contributors to information flow? Are they involved in local pet events? Your list can be further shortened with this step.
- Call in: Call each remaining clinic and chat with the receptionist. Inquire about such things as hours of operations, number of vets and technicians employed and whether they are taking new patients. Do not be too judgmental with the receptionist if he / she sounds less than receptive. Anybody can have a bad day. Also, mention that you wish to drop by for a casual look at the facility and ask as to the best day and time to do so.
- The Visit: Keep in mind that you are making a casual visit. This is a business and the employees are going to be busy with their duties. Remind the staff of your call and introduce them to your pet. Let them know that you are looking to choose a clinic and wanted to "get a feel" for theirs. Chances are, if they are proud of their facility, they will go into sales mode. Listen to what they have to say. Also, observe their body language. Look for a good attitude, helpfulness, willing to share information and general friendliness. This is important since the next time you see them could be an emergency and their demeanor will be important. If possible, having a word with the Veterinarian will be helpful. Since this is not a formal appointment, don't waste their time, just get acquainted.
This is a good time to get some important questions answered:
Hours of operations and process & timeliness of appointments
Experience with your type of pet
Fee structure and payment flexibility (important because it can make the difference with respect to affording the proper care for your pet)
Are alternative treatments and medications considered
· What are the clinic's emergency procedures and preferences
Is the employee turnover acceptable (can affect treatment consistency and familiarity)
· What surgical procedures, if any, are done on site.
- Comfort Level: Admittedly this is very subjective but none the less, important. You should be very comfortable with your interaction with all. Response to your questions should be quick and complete. Also, watch for your pet's reactions. Keep in mind that most pets are like humans when it comes to a Vet or doctor's appointment. That said, they should be at ease and generally receptive.
- Make an Appointment: If this clinic is your choice, make an appointment while you are there. All of us want to be appreciated and chosen. Making the appointment on the spot conveys this to the staff and starts the relationship on a very positive note.
Well, there you have it. Choosing a Veterinary Clinic by taking this approach, works. Yes, it may seem obvious to you but most pet owners are simply not committed enough to do this. By taking these steps, you will ensure that your pet has the best opportunity to maintain its health and you will have made the important first steps in meeting your responsibility to that end.
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