Creating Technician Technique: The Efficient, Effective Technician
You enter the exam room. Mrs. Avery’s eyes fill with tears as she places her dog Wrigley on the table. As a technician, you are a critical and integral part of the veterinary healthcare team and you are important to the client and the pet.
Your care for the client, the pet, and the team create a foundation for consistent recommendations and compliant clients.
See the client handout, Understanding Your Pet's Blood Work
This article addresses 6 key techniques of being an efficient and effective compliance technician. You must become the:
1. Educator of the hospital healthcare message
2. Liaison between veterinarian and client
3. Facilitator of pet comfort and care
4. Ambassador of quality of care
5. Team player extraordinaire
6. Knowledge seeker
1. Educator of the Hospital Healthcare Message
Each day several “Mrs. Averys” enter the practice. These clients are trusting that you will use the hospital’s knowledge, skill, and abilities to partner with them to improve their pet’s quality of life. As a technician, you must be a compliance advocate. Are you prepared?
• Do you have a triage checklist for the emergency patient?
• Do you have payment plans to offer?
• How do you communicate with the owner of a sick pet, a pet in surgery, or a hospitalized pet?
• Do you teach clients about what keeps a pet well?
The technician must know how to assist clients with their challenges and concerns without quoting a policy book or compromising trust. As veterinary consultant Louise Dunn advises, this needs to be done for each patient, each client, each record, each time. The exceptional technician uses the programs of the hospital to benefit and solve the clients’ and pets’ ongoing needs concerning long-term animal health.
2. Liaison Between Veterinarian and Client
Because there is no typical day in a veterinary hospital, effective communication is a consistent challenge. However, it’s likely there isn’t a day that a client does not ask:
• Can you help me? I am confused about…
• What would you do if this were your pet?
This is where clear, consistent, and effective communication is invaluable to ensure compliance. The doctor, technician, and all their materials and presentations must be consistent for the client to receive the message and take action.
People have to hear a message 7 to 12 times before to accepting it as a recommendation. Do not be discouraged if, as a technician, you deliver a message and the client says, “No thank you.” Then the doctor appears and delivers the same message and the client says, “Yes.” It is the consistency of communication—in our language, on paperwork, in records, in logs for anesthesia and controlled drugs, and in legible notations about conversations in the record—that gets a client to trust and say yes to workng with the team.
Do you regularly review records for legible communication? (How do you double-check your logs and order sheets? Is that 0.05 mg or 0.5 mg?) The technician must check and double-check doctors’ orders and written instructions for clarity and consistency. Ask a question if concerns or confusions arise:
• Is Wrigley on an NSAID?
• When did Max have his last thyroid medication?
• When would you like to recheck this, doctor?
• When can we refill this long-term medication?
• Has Hot Dog’s weight changed?
• Is Lila’s blood work normal?
• Are there breed risks with this new puppy?
• Has the client received a plan forcontinuing care?
• Can the client give the medications correctly?
• When and how does the owner know if there is a problem?
You may not be able to diagnose or prescribe medications or perform surgery, but your communication builds a bridge between the client and the doctor. In turn, clients become more compliant and pets stay healthier.
3. Facilitators of Pet Comfort and Care
The technician is a principal caregiver in the hospital. Techs anticipate patients’ needs and comfort. Toenail trim on the nervous pet? A technician swings into gear to reassure the pet and to keep the team and animal safe from harm.
• Where is the service performed?
• What restraint is needed?
• How can we make each service better for the client and pet?
Technicians can chart pain scores and maintain comfort, set and record treatments, and know the names of surgical and hospitalized patients so owners can be reassured clearly and quickly when they call. This means that technicians need to understand pet behavior and meet and exceed the clients’ and doctors’ expectations.
4. Ambassador of Quality of Care
Technicians give care, monitor care, and assist with recorded events linked to care. They must constantly monitor and speak to the quality of services given (see the script for Communicating Value). Any indication that the technician is disinterested or lacks empathy for the pet or client erodes the client’s trust. The technician, by consistent professional behavior and dress, delivers a message to clients that this is the right place to bring their pet.
5. Team Player Extraordinaire
Technicians are like the essential rebounders in a basketball game—they have to be in position, watch for passes, and be prepared to act and recover if a shot is missed. This requires good communication skills, listening, and patience. The management of difficult information in a balanced manner is critical to success.
• “Yes, Fido is overweight and we have great programs and a nutritional plan to help him lose that weight. He can avoid complications like diabetes and still have a fun, healthy life.”
• “Yes, I can talk to Marcie at the customer service desk and set up an appointment for you and Fido for next Thursday at 10:30. Then we will recheck his ear to make sure the infection is healing correctly.”
Good technician technique goes the extra mile so the client and team can ensure consistent, timely follow- through on care.
6. Knowledge Seeker
The amount of new information in veterinary medicine is growing at quantum speed. Keep up through webinars, employee training, case-based studies in publications or online, traditional didactic lectures, investigative reporting as a mystery shopper or through a new client survey, and ongoing mentoring programs. Or go back to school and earn an advanced degree and/or pursue a specialty. The options are numerous and the message is: be a lifelong learner. It advances you and everyone you meet.
Time magazine talks about fast-growing technical careers with increasing demand for the future.1 Veterinary technicians are in the top 10 careers set for growth (52%) between 2012 and 2020. No exam room will achieve compliance without efficient and effective technicians and the technique they develop for client peace of mind and compliance. Mrs. Avery knows Wrigley is in the right place and that you can and will be there for her now and in the future. And that trusting relationship brings clients back every time. | EVT
This article is the fourth in the Compliance Superstars series. Visit Team Development Topics for additional articles and training materials.
Creating Technician Technique: The Efficient, Effective Technician
1. Learning That Works. Klein J. Time 179(19):38-41, 2012.