Looking for a New Associate Veterinarian?
Don’t Snipe One!
We recently saw on a Veterinary Practice Management Forum a question regarding searching for an Associate Veterinarian. The question posed was something like “how do you feel about sending out letters to other local veterinary practices’ associate veterinarians, informing them about a position you have open?” As you might expect, there were several responses very quickly regarding this. Most expressed something to the effect of “don’t be ‘that guy’” or “that doesn’t sound very neighborly” or even “I hate them”.
We did chime in and express similar feelings, but we thought there was more to it than just how it comes across to the veterinary practice receiving the letter. Particularly, the owner or manager of that practice. We thought the best way to illustrate our thoughts was with an analogy.
Suppose you are dating and you find someone that you really hit it off with and it turns out that they are married, or at least in a serious relationship. If you don’t stop as soon as you find out that person is “taken”, they are “cheating” and you may need to re-evaluate what you’re looking for in a relationship.
If you ultimately continue to date that person and they eventually leave their spouse or significant other and end up in a serious relationship with you, you may always question your relationship. You may genuinely be in love and it may seem perfect, however, you may find yourself questioning that person every time there is even the slightest indication they may be “cheating” on you.
Even when there is nothing to be concerned with, you may find yourself questioning things; seeing things that aren’t really there, or even just having doubt. You may think something like “they left their last relationship for me, when are they going to leave me for someone else?”
Ultimately, they may end up searching for another, or leaving you all together, not because they stop loving you, but because they grow tired of having to defend their actions. Ultimately, they leave because of your actions, and not their own.
Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the same thing might happen with an Associate Veterinarian if you “sniped” them from another practice? If an Associate left their practice for yours, wouldn’t you constantly wonder when they were just going to do the same thing to you? Even if they are way happier at your practice than they ever were at their last one, you may always have the small level of doubt in your mind. Whenever it comes time to renew their contract, you may go into it thinking the worst, and may even see things that
aren’t there. The end result could be that they wonder why you are worrying and may ultimately leave because you actually dove them off; your actions, not theirs.
Additionally, they may never feel completely committed because they can see and feel the stress or doubt coming from you. As a result, they may actually start looking for another position.
If an associate is unhappy where they are, they will see your ad when it is posted and will seek you out based on that ad; provided they believe your practice may be a good fit for them. If they ultimately end up at your practice, you won’t have any doubt in your mind why they chose to leave and come to your practice. Things may be the same, but you won’t have to deal with any anxiety about why they chose your practice, why the left their last position and if they will ultimately leave yours.
If you have an Associate Veterinarian, make sure to have discussions about their feelings regarding their employment, and what can be done to keep them happy. And, if it is within reason, do so, and you won’t have to worry about them receiving these “sniping” letters because you know they are happy where they are. They will likely view those letters the same as you, a nuisance.
For those that are not currently searching for staff, you may not be aware that times are very tough right now when it comes to finding staff, including Associate Veterinarians. As a result, we would suggest you focus on keeping staff happy and excited about where your practice is and where it is heading. It is far more difficult and stressful to find someone for your staff versus keeping your current staff happy.