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The Startling Reason Veterinary Hospitals Exist

April 12, 2018

Why does our veterinary practice exist?

When you ask this question of your team, how do they answer?

“To enhance the Human-Animal Bond.”  I doubt this is the first thing said, but it is worth further exploration.

They probably answer, “To provide the absolute best veterinary care.” Or “To offer wellness and treatment to pets.”

I challenge you and your team to dig deeper, to fully define its purpose, its daily mission.

Last week, while attending a networking event, I met Zach Mercurio, the author of the Invisible Leader; Transform your life, work and organization with the power of authentic purpose. He is an adjunct professor and researcher from Colorado State University.

Zach’s message spoke loud and clear to me in that veterinary hospitals may be missing the mark of their purpose (at least what their mission statement says about their purpose).

Let’s face it, most veterinary hospital mission statements read basically the same. They comment about the quality medical care they provide, the respect they have for the patient (and maybe the person) and their compassion for everything.

While all good, there is something missing. Zach elaborated upon the missing piece which is the Human-Animal Bond.  I feel this is a term used often, but not totally understood by every member on the veterinary team.

Why does a veterinary hospital exist?

Consider the following answers:

  • To cultivate the relationship between the animal and the owner – the Human-Animal Bond
  • To repair the bond by (medically) assisting the animal
  • To help the pet and the pet parent have a healthy, fulfilling life together

It is a trilogy which includes the pet, the pet parent and the veterinary team.

Let’s look at a simple example. Ms. Smith brings Fido to the hospital because her dog no longer plays fetch like usual. The purpose of the veterinary team is to help Ms. Smith play ball with Fido once again, thus repairing the Human-Animal Bond.

Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not about the medicine. It’s about the way your team makes Ms. Smith feel when you heal her pet, allowing them to play together.

My epiphany, while listening to Zach’s presentation, was that veterinary team members seem to focus on the wellness and healing of pets as the primary purpose.  However, the focus should really be on the animal – owner relationship.

Where is your focus?

It’s not just about healing the animal but rather about healing the bond.

It’s not that you’re doing anything different with the medicine, it’s how you are regarding the situation and the human behind the animal.

In human medicine, it’s a two-way street – the medical team and healing the patient. However, in veterinary medicine it really is a healing trilogy (animal, owner and the veterinary team).

Has your hospital missed the mark when it comes to viewing the relationship with the person?

The focus, the reason veterinary hospitals exist, centers around healing the bond, and this is done by healing the animal. This truly defines the human-animal bond.

Yours in Healing the Bond,

Rebecca Rose, CVT