AVMA, AAEP release veterinary team, client relationship resource for equine practitioners

When equine veterinarians were asked what the single most important thing that would help them stay in equine practice would be, one answer that came through frequently was creating better boundaries with clients to help achieve a healthier work-life balance.

One respondent to the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ 2022 Equine Medicine Salary & Lifestyle Survey, an equine practice owner for 23 years, said, “I set boundary lines many years ago so that I would be able to enjoy my family time."

The Effective Equine Care Guide, developed jointly by the AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)
The Effective Equine Care Guide, developed jointly by the AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), gives veterinary teams and clients the guidance they need to communicate effectively and build strong partnerships.

In response to sentiments like these expressed by equine veterinary professionals, the AVMA and AAEP partnered to create the Effective Equine Care Guide, a free resource that veterinary teams in equine practice can use to develop healthy lines of communication and positive partnerships between staff members and clients.

The guide can be printed out for display purposes or provided to clients as a tip sheet and outlines descriptions of the complementary behaviors and treatment veterinary teams and clients can expect from one another to foster mutual trust and respect.

“We’re very excited to launch this new resource aimed at strengthening the bond between veterinarians, their teams and horse owners,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, president of the AVMA. “The Effective Equine Care Guide is all about building respect, trust, and open lines of communication, which are key to ensuring the best care for our horses, and reflects the AVMA’s commitment to making every veterinary visit a positive experience for all those involved.”

For example, the guide says all clients can expect to be seen on time, or be notified of any delay, with the understanding that life-threatening illnesses or injuries will be prioritized over routine appointments. In return, clients are asked to “be ready on time with your horse appropriately restrained for your appointment, or call ahead if you’re going to be late or need to reschedule or cancel.”

By clearly identifying expectations for communicating boundaries, scheduling, care options, service costs, and record keeping, the guide helps create strong partnerships between the equine veterinary practice and clients for the benefit of all horses.

The guide is modeled after last year’s Positive Pet Care Guide, which outlines shared expectations for veterinary professionals and pet owners. Both resources encourage an environment where each interaction is rooted in a supportive environment for all involved.

These resources are also part of the AVMA’s reputation management toolkit, made available to veterinary professionals across the industry.

Equine practitioners can also find a wealth of resources from the AAEP's Commission on Equine Veterinary Sustainability, which is dedicated to developing strategies to retain and recruit more veterinarians to this area of practice. The commission and its subcommittees are focused on topics such as compensation, emergency coverage, and practice culture.