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Reaching out to other practitioners can serve as a valuable tool for your practice and clients. Sharing ideas, offering advice and seeking or providing specialty services not only benefits the practices involved, but the clients reap the benefits.
Passing it On
Referring a client to a specialist or seeking the advice from another veterinarian should not be viewed as a threat, Dr. Latta says.
“In the consulting business, most of us are busy and don’t view seeking advice from a colleague as a threat to losing a client,” he says. “If we can truly view other veterinarians as colleagues and reach out to them, there’s no end to the benefits.”
For this reason, Dr. Latta’s practice developed an alliance with five other practices about seven years ago, forming Veterinary Research Associates.
“We do some large scale research, but our main concept was a colleague concept,” he says. “We have annual and semi-annual visits and meetings to discuss our real issues. Everyone agrees not to be embarrassed about problems we may face. We bring the ideas to the table and discuss them. It’s been a great concept for us.”
When a practitioner realizes his limitations and calls on the assistance of another—either within or outside of his practice—he builds confidence within his client, Dr. Latta says.
“For example, when working with a feedlot manager, if I get stumped and say I’m calling on the help of another veterinarian, I have another set of eyes looking at the problem,” he says. “This builds great confidence in your client, because he knows you are willing to do whatever it takes to solve the problem. If you don’t know what’s going on, you are not serving your client’s best interest by not seeking advice.”
Dr. Blankenship’s practice often receives bovine referrals, often including C-sections or special procedures, from practitioners in the area.
“We are a benefit to other practitioners in the area, as they can ask us to perform procedures they are not comfortable with, as they only run into these situations a few times a year,” he says.
Referrals can benefit both practices involved, Dr. Blankenship says.
“If it’s the referring practice, the clients understand the practitioner’s limitations and know he has the cow’s best interest in mind,” he says. “Therefore, the veterinarian builds confidence in his client; and, it benefits the referral clinic because, simply, we’re getting more work than we would get otherwise.”
And, of course, resources within a clinic are also great assets.