Formula One vets
I was ruminating the other day how running a vet practice is very much like being the principal of a Formula One race team.
Let me explain what I mean. You have the vets – your race drivers – highly skilled precision workers who constantly think on their feet and make moment to moment calculated decisions which can have life or death consequences. Much like the racing car drivers, their personalities set the tone for every consult and their experience feeds into their every decision. They are the Louis Hamiltons of the group – smart, focused and have to show nerves of steel no matter what the situation.
But everyone knows that Lewis Hamilton could not win in a race car without a highly trained and dedicated pit crew capable of ensuring that everything is ready for that speedy turnaround. The veterinary nurses are the pit crew. They provide the vets with the tools they need when they need them and contribute rock steady support so that the race can be won. Their organisation must be perfect, their attention to detail must be spot-on because if one bolt is out of place, the wheels falls off the car.
They are hardworking, team players who look at the job from a very different position than the vets, and can therefore contribute greatly to a wider field of view. As with the pit crew and drivers, the nurses work in symbiosis with the vets. One could not succeed without the other, and they must be focused on the same result to get to the finish line.
The receptionist is like the person who speaks to the driver through headphones. They deliver information to make sure the vet is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. They know just how to calm down a fractious or worried client, and maintain an air of control no matter what is going on. I have said many times, the veterinary receptionist has one of the hardest jobs in the whole clinic and yet they do it with kindness, compassion and a no-nonsense approach.
Every role in the veterinary clinic is vital to success, right the way through to the cleaning staff who turn that race car out looking shiny and slick and make sure there are no oil leaks. It’s an attention to detail game – if everyone pulls together and does their part anything is possible.
My job as the principal is to make sure everyone has the tools and the time they need, to make sure they know their job and can execute it flawlessly every time. I help to keep their mental wellbeing on an even keel and mentor when needed to avoid burnout. I make sure we have the perfect team, a well-oiled efficient combination, balanced and focused on the job so we can deliver the highest possible quality of service every day. With this type of race car you are guaranteed to take the checkered flag, but it’s a wild nail-biting ride and a whole team effort without a doubt.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda