Veterinarian, comedian Fitzgerald headlines CVC Washington D.C.

Veterinarian, comedian Fitzgerald headlines CVC Washington D.C.

CVC Power Hours debut to a packed house.
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May 05, 2011
Washington, D.C. -- "I was so nervous, I was sweating like a FEMA director watching the Weather Channel."

That's how veterinarian and comedian Kevin Fitzgerald opened his talk May 5 during a CVC Power Hour to an estimated 350 veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other team members at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor. CVC Washington D.C., a national continuing education conference, opened yesterday featuring experts in everything from veterinary behavior to endocrinology. Fitzgerald's Power Hour talk was titled "A Privilege to Practice: Puppies, Penguins, and Polar Bears (and Everything In-between).

His key message?

Veterinarians serve a pivotal role in society. The public asks a lot of the veterinary profession, but it remains a privilege to practice. And the public's positive view of veterinarians is one the profession should embrace and foster.

In a 2007 Psychology Today survey, 87 percent of respondents said their ideal job was working with animals. The same survey showed that 97 percent of people thought the pet was part of their family.

"There has been a change. And it's been a big change in the way people perceive animals. They expect more from us. It's a privilege to do what we do. But we can lose that trust and good will very easily," Fitzgerald says.

In fact, Fitzgerald says, veterinarians should get involved in their communities and with veterinary associations at the national, state and local level. "Together, we are strong," he says of the role of organized veterinary medicine in debating legislative and legal issues.

When it comes to client relations, Fitzgerald says, veterinarians should turn into educators. "We have a duty to educate. It's part of our mandate as veterinarians," he says.

To maintain that connection, practitioners should look at all areas that could positively influence pet owner perceptions of the profession. It starts with "your clothes, body posture, hygiene, focus and smile," he says. "The number one reason clients leave a practice is (because of the) inaccessibility of the veterinarian," he adds.

One of Fitzgerald's most memorable healthcare experiences was just before he underwent surgery himself. A nurse walked into the room and said, "'Are you scared?' I said yes. She leaned over and gave me a hug," he recalled. The nurse went on to tell Fitzgerald that she would be there for him. "She said that no one gets scared on my watch." How many of your clients or patients are afraid too?

Show empathy toward clients, Fitzgerald advises. Touch every animal that walks into the exam room. "We have to hit the exam room like dad is home. Take charge. You have to put your game face on every time you go into the exam room." Some of Fitzgerald's other tips:

* Record the name of children and their birth dates in the record, and mention them if appropriate.

* Tell waiting clients you know they are there.

* Offer hospital tours for new patients.

* Offer a drop-off service.

And most importantly, Fitzgerald told attendees, remember that veterinary medicine is a team sport. Give lots of praise. And share your criticisms in private.

CVC Washington D.C. is debuting six other Power Hour sessions this week. Powered by dvm360.com, DVM Newsmagazine, Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Economics and Firstline media brands, the sessions feature thought leaders within the market to address multiple areas of practice and medicine.

The Power Hour sessions include:

Dr. Marie McCabe, "Responding to Disasters," 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 6.

Shawn McVey, "Muscle Up and Achieve More with Stronger Personal Leadership," 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

Dr. Gary Norsworthy, "Chronic Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats: It's Really Not Hairballs or Worms," 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. on Friday, May 6.

Dr. Marty Becker, "How to Reach the Summit of Veterinary Medicine -- Without Falling Off," 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Brian Conrad, "What Do Clients Really Think of You?" 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Scott Shaw, "Ten Things I Learned the Hard Way While Practicing Emergency Medicine," 4 to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6.