Implementing a feline preventive medicine program
Entire staff needs regular training to produce successful outcomes
May 01, 2003
Educating staff members is the key to any successful clinic program. The receptionists, technicians and kennel workers should all be informed about basic hospital policy. Together, they form a client education team with the veterinarian as the leader of the hospital team and principal educator.
Taking the first steps Staff education is best accomplished when guidelines and hospital policies are specifically delineated. A clinic text of routine protocols provides an easy reference for employees who are trying to hold volumes of information in their memory banks. Remember, you had years of training to learn this information, so make it as easy as possible for your staff to learn about clinic health care policies. Supply all employees with a clinic manual to ensure a completely educated team.
Outlining protocols To gather the preventive medicine information for your manual, outline what you usually discuss with clients on the first feline visit: nutrition, immunizations, parasite control, behavior and reproduction. Basically write down your examination room spiel. Keep the text simple enough for lay staff to understand, but detailed enough that they are adequately informed.
The text should be a complete guide to general health care for cats. Begin with the basic requirements for life - food and water. Cover proper nutrition for kittens, adults and senior cats. Prescription diets and the diseases that warrant their use should be explained. List all of the diets you sell in your practice so that your staff may readily answer client questions. With the numerous diets carried by most clinics, a chart may simplify the dietary dilemma and serve as a quick reference for staff. If multiple brands are sold, list foods by reason for use.
Include information on reproduction in your preventive medicine booklet. Staff members should be able to explain the estrous cycle as well as the benefits of spaying and neutering. Make sure that staff members know your clinic's opinion on the optimum age for spaying and neutering. Personnel should understand basic pre-operative laboratory workups, anesthetic protocols, recovery procedures, pain management protocols and length of hospital stays for routine surgeries.
A list of parasites prevalent in your practice area should also be included in the employee's preventive medicine guide. Describe the parasite, how it is acquired, how it affects the patient, how it is treated, and how it is prevented. Staff members should be familiar with the parasite control medications used in the practice. With the plethora of internal and external parasite products on the market, a list of products is helpful and again serves as a quick reference.
Survey your drug inventory and categorize parasite control products according to use, i.e. intestinal parasite medications, heartworm preventives, flea control products. Make sure staff members are aware of potential adverse events and appropriate ages for use. Most pharmaceutical companies provide good visual aids for staff education on parasites.
Routine diagnostics play an important role in keeping cats healthy. Technicians are the most knowledgeable regarding in-house testing procedures, but all staff members should be able to discuss which tests are deemed routine at your practice. They should know what tests are performed in conjunction with annual examinations (fecal exam, FeLV/FIV test, feline heartworm tests). They should also know that certain tests are recommended as the cat ages. Develop a senior care program and include the laboratory tests to be discussed during visits with feline patients more than 7 years of age, such as CBC, chemistry panel, urinalysis, thyroid function tests, etc.