Summer 2019

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Kara M. Burns MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), VTS-H (Internal Medicine, Dentistry), Editor in Chief, Director of Veterinary Nursing

Kara Burns is an LVT with master’s degrees in physiology and counseling psychology. She began her career in human medicine working as an emergency psychologist and a poison specialist for humans and animals. Kara is the founder and president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians and has attained her VTS (Nutrition). She is the director of veterinary nursing for the NAVC as well as the editor in chief of Today’s Veterinary Nurse. She also works as an independent nutritional consultant, and is the immediate past president of NAVTA. She has authored many articles, textbooks, and textbook chapters and is an internationally invited speaker, focusing on topics of nutrition, leadership, and technician utilization.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
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“Unity is strength … when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.’’
— Mattie Stepanek, author of Journey Through Heartsongs

The veterinary healthcare team is just that—a team. As the author, speaker, and leadership expert John C. Maxwell has said, “The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement” (johnmaxwell.com/blog/one-is-too-small-a-number).

Each member of the veterinary healthcare team plays an important role that is critical to the overall success of the team and, subsequently, to the overall wellness of the patient and success of the hospital.

Think about your hospital—does it feel like a healthy working team? Or is the feeling more in line with a work group? Individuals who are responsible for a specific portion of an overall process comprise a work group. Roles and limits are known by each individual and performed accordingly. Is this your hospital’s philosophy? To me, this is not the team concept that I envision.

As members of the veterinary team we understand one another’s roles and skills, and each individual skill complements other individual skills. There is a sense of shared accountability. Credentialed veterinary nurses bring knowledge and a skill set that when utilized properly complements the other members of the team. This is true of all members of the veterinary team—reception, veterinarians, veterinary assistants, practice manager, kennel assistants, etc. When we work together, it is in the best interest of our patients and we also improve ourselves individually. In addition, when each member of the team is maximizing his or her skills and knowledge, individual and team morale improves, and turnover is reduced. This is the goal we should strive for every day.

Why not make this way of working a reality? I have seen this in action and have been part of a team-oriented veterinary hospital. Teamwork divides the tasks and multiplies the success!

Those who know me know that I am a dork, and I love quotes, such as the one on this page by Mattie Stepanek. But they also know I wholeheartedly believe what I am saying—or quoting. We work in a busy, exciting, fast-paced medical environment. We chose this profession, so I believe our philosophy is to provide the best medicine to our patients. Working together as a veterinary team allows each of us to do just that every day—provide the best veterinary care for the pets that come through the door!

This was our dream when we first embarked on our careers. Let’s continue to follow our dreams—together.

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