Jul 07 2014

Vets and Clients and a Relationship Laundry List

Most worthwhile relationships in life require some work; marriage, friendships, work relations and family relations. They all require something of each party in order to be sustained. And each participant within these relationships have expectations. Without effort to reasonably meet those mutual expectations, they disintegrate.

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A strange epidemic involving eye-ball and tongue abnormalities is sweeping through our hospital. “Dr. Steinebach can you help us?”

The same is true of the veterinary-client relationship. I know that my clients have expectations of me whether they are able to innumerate them or not. And perhaps my clients might be surprised that I have expectations of them. Here is what I believe and what surveys indicate that clients want and expect from me and a few of my expectations in return….

1. You want me to listen to you, hear your concerns for your pet and reasonably deal with these concerns (or at least have a plan to) before you leave the hospital.

2. I (your veterinarian) will listen to you and in addition to putting a plan into place to solve your current pet health concerns will also find all other reasonable issues associated with your pet’s health and make you aware of these (and include a prioritized action plan to ensure these get dealt with).

3. You want me to value your time. That means I (by this, I mean my staff) will realize that your time is valuable and your schedule is also busy and full just like mine. You don’t want to be kept waiting and you want me to deal with your pet’s issues in a timely fashion.

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Our doctors are clever lot. They regularly engage in post-graduate training in order to solve your pet’s problems.

4. I (your veterinarian) won’t choose the time for grabbing a coffee or microwaving my hot-pocket to coincide with your appointment slot. I will endeavour to stay on time. This, of course is predicated on things I can’t control….and this leads to my next point.

5. I (your veterinarian) will ensure that when your pet is in desperate need (i.e. medical emergency) I will give you my full and immediate attention and everything else will take a back seat. I would expect that those who are kept waiting will be patient and understand that if some day their pet needs me, I will ensure that they get my full and undivided attention. I appreciate the understanding and patience as do those who need me most in those moments.

6. I (your veterinarian) won’t ask for much but I do appreciate it when my clients are on time for their appointments (and if they cannot be on time, phone to let us know). If you apply the Golden Rule (“….do unto others….”) to point #3 above, this will be self-evident.


This is Jeffrey. He has an abscessed tooth. These Macaque monkeys make terrible pets but still need care from our doctors from time to time. It’s our honour to help them.

7. You are paying me for my time and you would prefer that this interaction is pleasant, warm, friendly and professional.

8. I (your veterinarian), regardless of the emotional trauma that I may have been involved with prior to your appointment, will endeavour to muster all of my efforts to be a warm and friendly face. I will recognize that your time with me can also be a difficult one too, so I will do everything in my power to make it as pleasant as I can.

9. You would like me to be reasonably fond of your pet. After all, you do believe them to be awesome.

10. I (your veterinarian and our staff) went into this racket because we love animals. This means that we will assume your pet will welcome our attention. Some don’t and express this with growls, scratches and bites. We are not anymore fond of any of these than you would be. We expect that you would understand this. This however, doesn’t reduce our enthusiasm for creatures of all kinds.

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Dr. Steinebach using just one of the fancy gadgets that we have invested in to help solve your pet’s problems in a timely fashion

11. You expect that I will bring intelligence, insight and current training to bear when solving your pet’s medical problems.

12. I (your veterinarian….and our staff) will always stay on the forefront of veterinary medicine by undergoing continual training and upgrading whilst also keeping our hospital amongst the best equipped anywhere. Just because I graduated with my medical degree in 1994 doesn’t mean I will give you 1994 medical information. When you come to us, you will afford yourself the best opportunity to have your pet’s problems solved.

13. You want to have your pet’s medical issues solved while not having to sell a kidney to bankroll the endeavour.

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We love what we do and who we do it for, and we believe it shows

14. I (your veterinarian) will do everything within my power to offer you options for your pet’s care. Sometimes there is only one option. This may be a problem beyond my control. If you will remember that medicine is (unfortunately) expensive, but that compared to human medicine, dentistry and nearly every other profession, veterinary care is actually an amazing value, then I will do all I can to work within any financial constraints you have in the best interests of your pet. I do expect that you would understand that for all of the people who work within the walls of this building, this is our passion, but isn’t our hobby. We do this to pay our way through life just like you do with your job at the grocery, high school, law office, trucking company, hospital, police station or wherever.

I look forward to a long and enduring relationship with my clients and their furry family members. Let’s work on this together.

Submitted by:  Dr. Mark Steinebach

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