How Do You Find The Right Veterinarian?
Finding a veterinary hospital in your area with a health care team that’s right for you is an important task and it is best to do this work in advance before an emergency strikes. It is stressful enough dealing with an ailing pet so you don’t want to be calling around at the last minute.
How do you determine which clinic is a “best fit” for you and your pet(s)?
• Ask family, friends, and neighbours to refer you to a clinic where they have had a good experience with quality service and patient care.
• Visit clinic websites to read about what they offer. Are there other resources or services available to clients that will help support optimal pet health?
• Are there client testimonials available?
• Make a consultation appointment with your first choice practice and visit the practice to meet the office staff, animal health technicians and veterinarians. If possible, arrange to tour the facility and ask questions to help you determine whether this is the best clinic for you and your pet(s).
Each person has individual needs, so the best practice for one is not necessarily the best for another. To help you decide whether a particular clinic is the right one for you and your pets, consider the following questions:
• Do you feel comfortable when you walk in the door? Are you warmly greeted when you arrive?
• Do you feel at ease speaking with the staff?
• Does the staff seem knowledgeable?
• Do they communicate with you about how your pet is recovering from a procedure or about unanticipated matters so that you are not surprised by costs?
• Do you sense a caring, empathic, professional environment and a kind attitude towards patients?
• Do you feel rushed, or are you allowed plenty of time to address your concerns?
• Are things explained in terms that you can understand? Do you understand what you are paying for?
• Do they allow you to see a regular veterinarian or do they insist on a team-practice approach?
• Are the facilities clean, odor free, safe and professional in appearance?
• Do they value you as a client?
• Do they make it easy to renew prescriptions and book appointments (telephone or online)?
• How does the practice handle after-hours emergencies?
• Are educational handouts available for clients?
• Are average waiting times for appointments appropriate? (Note: emergencies will sometimes affect scheduling, and client patience is needed on those days.)
• Are the hours of operation convenient for you?
• Do they offer house calls?
• Do they offer other services like a pet store where you can easily pick up prescription diets?
• Is the location reasonably convenient for you? Is there ample parking?
• Are detailed quotes and invoices provided?
• Are they quick to refer you to a specialist, which often comes at a much higher cost, or do they have experience and expertise to handle most concerns?
The biggest mistake people often make in choosing the right veterinarian is to select based on price. Price shopping is common in the veterinary field. A client will phone a number of practices and ask them to quote on a procedure and then select the practice offering the cheapest quote. Price does not always equate to quality or value. It is hard to compare prices between practices because different services are bundled within package quotes, and different depths of services are offered between practices. Ensure that you are comparing “apples to apples”. It is important to remember that practices are businesses, and overhead costs, staff wages and equipment costs are considerable. Charging reasonable fees helps a practice to thrive and provide optimal patient care, by being able to hire the best staff, afford the best equipment, and offer continuing education to staff. This in turn means that they can offer you the best service possible.