Hey Siri, find the best veterinarian near me! There are frequently so many great options when looking for a vet clinic. So, how is a dedicated pet parent to choose?
The Basics of Finding a Local Veterinarian
After a quick online search for nearby possibilities, start with the basics. The location and hours. Think about if they are really going to work for your schedule, job, pet daycare and home location.
Ask friends and even friendly strangers who they use and why. Ask those same people the best things about their favorite clinic or doctor and some of the challenges they have had there. Think about reaching out to other pet owners who share your values around how the pet will be a part of the home and family. Consider weighting their opinions a little more in the list of candidates.
The next step is trying to call the clinic and ask about the availability and cost of a new patient appointment. You don?t have to book it right then, but your goal is to get a sense of the manners and helpfulness of the front desk as well as the actual availability of their services.
After you narrow your down your search to a few practices take the time to stop by the offices briefly to get a sense of how they feel on the inside. There will likely be differences in the set ups that may make your choice much easier.
Corporate Ownership of Vet Clinics – The Pros and Cons
Part of the consideration for you may be influenced by your feelings about corporate ownership. This means that the vet clinic is owned and the business aspects are handled by a larger group than the veterinarians who work there.
These corporate owned clinics come in many different styles and philosophies. They may vary quite a bit in the benefits to the clients and the veterinarians they are a serving.
Some of the pros to using a corporate owned clinic is a more consistent standard of care between doctors and clinics in their group, flexibility around records transfer between those clinics in the same group, their standardized payment options, and a more structured approach to scheduling.
The cons may be that their vets have less flexibility in their creative approaches to your pet?s medical needs depending on the philosophy of the larger group. They can occasionally be prone to emphasizing profits more than smaller individually owned practices.
Neither the pros or cons I have listed is universal for every corporate group and the reverse is not true of every small practice. There is a movement to increase medical flexibility and autonomy in patient care within corporate medicine as well as movements to teach small practice owners more business savvy so they can increase their profits, attract talented colleagues, and have more progressive medical technology.
Back to you and your beloved pet…
Questions To Ask
After asking around, looking online, and doing a quick phone call and/or peek inside the clinic you have narrowed your options down to a few that seem like they may work. What are some other questions that might help you get a sense of expectations and your fit with a vet clinic?
Here are a few to think over:
- Ask how they handle emergencies?
- Can you request a specific veterinarian?
- What happens when that person is unavailable?
- Do they work with a pet insurance provider?
- Which one do they like?
- How soon can they get your pet in for an appointment usually?
- What sort of cases to they refer out to specialists and how does that work?
- Do they have specialists they like for certain types of problems?
I particularly enjoy hearing how each clinic feels about external referrals. Even smart and hardworking veterinarians will have cases they need to seek outside resources to help.
Their answer and comfort with this topic might give you a great sense of how much they enjoy helping their patients as they reflect on some of their tougher cases and their collaboration with other colleagues.
Drilling them or their staff with all of these questions right off the bat may be uncomfortable for the front desk to handle on their own or for the vet to do in the middle of a busy day full of incoming sick patients.
But you can use these to help think about what questions are meaningful when trying to find a place you will enjoy taking your pet and chose a few to spend time on.
Follow Your Gut
Finally, follow your gut and go where YOU feel most comfortable. If you are relaxed then your pet will notice.
If you are not really vibing on the relationship with your vet and their office after a few visits, it?s OK to change doctors or clinics. Veterinarians want you and your pet to find the perfect fit.
If you believe that everyone is working together then you will be more likely to seek out their educated and experienced opinions when those inconvenient health troubles visit your pet. It is easier to find success with a great team helping you navigate the tricky times and applaud your victories along the way.