December 2009
PRACTICE ADMINISTRATION DIAGNOSTICS
 
As we approach the end of what many experts feel has been a very difficult and trying year, it's time to start preparing for 2010.  With the New Year just around the corner, it's important to make sure you're "administrative house" is in order.  To help you manage and run your practice more effectively and efficiently, VBA will be introducing a section entitled "Practice Administration Diagnostics" in its monthly newsletter.  Starting in January, each issue will focus on the tools, programs and protocols that every practice owner and hospital administrator should address annually, if not more frequently, to help them achieve their practice goals.  Each month, we will offer tips, advice, guidance and recommendations on how to get your practice in shape and keep it that way.  Some of these tips may require time and energy to adopt.  Others may seem tedious and not worth the effort.  However, if your goal is to develop and sustain the type of practice you want to have, you'll soon realize a little effort today will yield a greater return tomorrow.
 
Below is a listing of some of the topics we will be addressing in future newsletters.  However, if you have recommendations for topics you'd like us to discuss, we'd love to hear from you.  Please submit comments and suggestions for future articles through the "Send Us Feedback" link below and we'll try to address your needs.
 
Future Topics (in no particular order):
- Employment Contracts                  - Employee Files and Documentation    
- Partnership Agreements               - Performance Reviews     
- Business Entity Set Ups                 - Employee Handbooks           
- Buy-Ins, Sell-Offs, ...                      - Investigating Employee Complaints    
- Malpractice Issues                          - Recruitment and Hiring  
- Discipline and Termination            - Financing Construction, Leases, ...        
 

Q:   Do I really need an internet blogging policy?
 
A:   A blog, or a weblog, is a frequently updated personal journal intended for public viewing. Blogs first appeared on the Internet in the mid-1990s and consisted primarily of personal online diaries.  In today's electronic age, most of us either blog or participate in one or more electronic-communications mediums.  However, as blogs have become more popular, the ways in which they have been used and, thus, the difficulty in controlling their usage has expanded exponentially.  In light of their ever-increasing popularity, it behooves every veterinary practice to create and enforce blog policies and protocols to ensure its team members use blogs in an appropriate and acceptable manner.  If your practice, or any of its employees, is blogging either personally or on behalf of the practice, you need to develop a clearly defined and comprehensive blogging policy. To ensure your blogging policy affords the proper protections to your practice, its clients, vendors and other team members, you should consider including the following:  (read entire article)


 
THE KEY TO HAPPINESS
 
According to psychology professor Robert A. Emmons, PhD, University of California Davis, research suggests that becoming more grateful could make each of us 25% happier -- and that being happy is the key to a longer, more successful life.  Our lives do not just seem better when we are happy -- they actually become better, according to a 2005 analysis of hundreds of psychological studies.  Happy people tend to have longer, have more loving marriages... are healthier... live an average of seven to nine years longer than chronically unhappy people... and have more successful careers.  According to one study, happy college graduates had annual salaries $25,000 higher than unhappy graduates 16 years after graduation.

While an endless procession of self-help gurus have claimed to know the path to happiness, psychological studies generally have failed to confirm that proposed happiness strategies actually work.  However, research conducted in the past decade appears to indicate that we can become happier by feeling more gratitude.  Here are some excerpts from a conversation with Dr. Emmons:

What is "gratitude" to a psychologist?
In simple terms, gratitude is our affirmation of a benefit that we have received and our recognition that this benefit has come to us from outside of ourselves.

How do you know that it isn't the other way around -- happiness creates gratitude?
Our research suggests that increases in happiness do not lead to increases in gratitude, but that increases in gratitude do in fact increase happiness.  We designed a study to test this.  Participants were divided into two groups, each of which were initially equally happy.  Members of one of these groups were asked to write in a journal the things that they were grateful for, which made them more conscious of and grateful for the good fortune that came their way.  At the end of the study, the journal-keeping group was 25% happier than members of the group that did not keep gratitude journals.

Why does feeling gratitude make us happier?
It is because gratitude increases our sense of connection to other people.  Having strong relationships is the single best predictor of happiness, and our relationships become stronger when we acknowledge the support we receive from those around us.  Acknowledging the support we receive from others provides us with confirmation that we have value in other people's eyes. Gratitude also buffers us from envy, resentment and regret, emotions that inhibit happiness.

Why do people often have trouble being grateful for what they have?
Lots of reasons.  Most of us are fortunate to have pretty good lives, so our default reaction might be to take the benefits that come our way for granted.  Consumerism and other cultural pressures can foster a sense that we deserve even more than we have.  Our desire to see ourselves as self-sufficient makes it difficult to admit that someone else has helped us. 
 
Can we consciously choose to become more grateful and thus happier?
Yes.  Chronically unhappy people do not greatly differ from happy people in terms of their life circumstances -- they just approach life with a different set of attitudes.  Unhappy people tend to see themselves as victims of their past, and feel entitled or exaggeratedly deserving when good fortune comes their way.  Happy people are thankful that good things happen to them -- even though their lives might be no better than those of the unhappy people next door. We cannot always alter the events of our lives, but we can alter our attitudes.

What can we do to become more grateful?
Make an effort to speak about your life using words of gratitude even if you do not feel very grateful.  Though it seems counter­intuitive, we can become more grateful by forcing ourselves to feign gratefulness that we do not initially feel.  Speak in terms of gifts and givers, not regrets and setbacks.  Refer to yourself as blessed or fortunate, not deserving or lacking. Say that you live in abundance, not in need.  For example, say "I feel so grateful when I can sleep through the night," rather than "Most nights I wake up every few hours."  Incidentally, grateful people sleep better and longer than ungrateful people.  Keeping a gratitude journal also seems to encourage gratefulness.  Every day or every week, write down five or more things for which you are grateful.  Be specific -- "I'm grateful for my spouse" is little more than a cliché, but "I'm grateful that my spouse picked up my dry cleaning this afternoon" reminds us that we are grateful to our partner today for a particular reason.



 

"KUDOS"  
AVMF 
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) is the Veterinary profession's premier philanthropic and charitable organization.  Established by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 1963, and headquartered in northwest suburban Chicago, the AVMF is a nonprofit organization that has helped the veterinary profession meet the challenges of animal disaster relief, animal health and veterinary education.  With its mission "To embrace and advance the well-being and medical care of animal", the AVMF helps fund animal health studies that explore the causes, treatments, and prevention of fatal and infectious diseases by way of innovative medical advancements.  Student scholarships help solidify the future of veterinary medicine. (visit AVMF website)


Veterinary Business Advisors
Countryside Plaza North
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361 Route 31
Flemington, NJ 08822
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www.veterinarybusinessadvisors.com
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