Would my clients maintain their confidence in me if they knew the motives and principles used to derive my fee structure?
Would they find that my fees are primarily designed to generate adequate hospital income to provide an appropriate standard
of care for my patients, or would they find that my fees reflect preoccupation with personal profit?
Would they find that I am a proponent of a prevailing philosophy of charging what the traffic will bear with the underlying
motive of personal monetary gain?
Would they find that I have a balanced view of money in that I use sound fiscal principles to optimize business practices
with the goals of allowing long-term employment of adequate numbers of properly compensated personnel with contemporary training,
and of maintaining up-to-date facilities, equipment and medical supplies?
Would they find that I have used the need to sustain the financial health of my practice to justify performing unnecessary
diagnostic tests or treatments on my patients? Would my actions show others that the humane elements of veterinary practice
are as important to me, if not more so, as financial considerations?
It is essential that we talk with our hospital staff about our clients on numerous occasions. Would my clients maintain their
confidence in me if they knew what I was saying to others about them?
Do I talk about them in a way that I would want them to talk to others about me?
Does the information I share with others about my clients leave me with a good conscience?
Will my conscience allow me to make exactly the same statements with the same tone of voice and body language in the presence
of the client about whom I are speaking?
Do I practice the principle that my words (as my treatments) should first do no harm?
Won't you agree that when we "bad-mouth" our clients behind their backs and "sweet-talk" them to their faces, we are at risk
of undermining their confidence in us?
Would my clients maintain their confidence in me if they knew the level of satisfaction I derive from being a member of the
Would they maintain confidence in me if they knew the criteria I use to measure success?
Are my actions and decisions as a veterinarian primarily based on a service or a profit motive?
Does my success formula encompass a heartfelt desire to contribute to the health and welfare of animals?
As veterinarians, one of the most important tools in our armamentarium is client confidence in our competency and character.
However, we cannot buy that confidence; we must earn it. Doing so is an iterative process, requiring repeated evidence of
our competence, responsibility and caring.
In today's climate of ever-increasing distrust, what basic ethical principle can we rely upon to help us gain and maintain
our clients' confidence?
What basic ethical principle can we rely upon to help us formulate diagnostic and therapeutic options in such a way that we
will serve the best interests of our patients, clients and ourselves?
What basic ethical principle will help us to choose the best course of action when existing rules and guidelines do not seem
What ethical principle can we rely upon to help us maintain our professional and moral integrity?
The answer is the familiar Golden Rule: Do for others what we would have them do for us.
Perhaps the most important question for us to contemplate daily is, "Do our actions reveal that we are committed to putting
the Golden Rule into practice?"
By taking the initiative to apply this ethical gold standard to the care and welfare of our patients, we can be confident
that it will help us gain and sustain our client's confidence in our character and professional competence.
(ADAPTED FROM AN ARTICLE BY THE AUTHOR IN THE 1999 ISSUE OF JAVMA VOLUME 215, PAGES 1238 – 1239.)
Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department
of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.