Resolutions for the New Year

Tips for veterinarians, business owners and pet owners

Did you welcome in 2018 with New Year’s resolutions? The AVMA issued a press release last week reminding pet owners to include pets in their 2018 New Year’s resolutions, and we also have some ideas to help veterinary professionals thrive in the coming year. For veterinarians, veterinary business owners, and other members of the veterinary care team, here are suggestions to help jump start your success in 2018.

New Year's Resolution Take Ownership of Your WellbeingResolutions for veterinary wellbeing

Like other caregivers, veterinary professionals face challenges to our personal wellbeing and sometimes struggle to prioritize our self-care. But there are simple things we can do every day to reduce stress, alleviate worries and improve our own wellbeing. We can all resolve to take ownership of our self-care in 2018. Here are six areas where you might focus:

Regular exercise –
Exercise is one of many components that contribute to physical wellbeing, along with getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, and more. Physical activity can boost your mood and reduce stress, and good physical health will leave you feeling better in the long term. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you “should” be doing to stay healthy. The key is to choose one activity, and set a clear and realistic goal that you can stick to. And don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Just reassess your goal to make sure it’s still achievable, and pick up where you left off.

Financial health – Finances can be a great source of stress, not just for veterinarians but for anyone. Taking ownership of your finances means setting and sticking to a clear budget that will keep you on the path to success.  Use the AVMA’s budget calculator to track your expenses and set a personalized budget that will help you grow your savings, pay off debt, and reach your financial goals. Already have a solid budget? Find other financial tools in the wellbeing pages of our website.

Work-life balance – Assessing your wellbeing is key to prioritizing goals and working toward better work-life integration. You can start by taking this self-assessment, which will give you insight into three critical areas: compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue.  Learn strategies to improve work-life balance here.

Workplace wellbeing – A positive workplace culture – including positive emotions and responsive communication – has been shown to reduce stress, compassion fatigue and workplace burnout among employees. Whether you are a team member, clinic owner or office manager, here are five things you can do to create a positive workplace environment centered on wellbeing.

Know when to ask for help – Knowing when to reach out for help – and doing it – might be the most important part of your self-care plan. This state-by-state chart of wellness programs for veterinary professionals is an excellent resource to locate a mental health program or peer assistance contact in your state. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with this information before you need it and keep the page handy so you can access it quickly, should you – or someone you know – require support.

Learn how you can help others – The AVMA offers a free training program that teaches AVMA and SAVMA members to identify the signs that someone may be considering suicide, establish a dialogue with them, and steer them to get professional help. The training, called gatekeeper training, is offered online, free of charge, and can be completed in 60 minutes or less. Make a commitment to your colleagues and sign up to take this life-saving training.

Resolutions for veterinary business owners

Economics take center stage in the role of veterinary business owner and practice manager. Here are three resolutions to boost your practice’s success in 2018:

Seek untapped opportunities – The reality of any business – including veterinary hospitals and clinics – is that if you don’t take advantage of undiscovered opportunities in your market, someone else will. Stay ahead of your competition by actively seeking new opportunities, even ones that may seem unconventional.

Look to the balance sheet – If you are using only an income statement to assess your business’ financial health, you’re missing half the picture. Your balance sheet provides critical information on things like asset value, return on investment, fixed costs and more – things that aren’t captured on your income statement. To more accurately determine your practice’s financial status, be sure to look at your business’ balance sheet along with the income statement.

Usethe standardized chart of accounts – The recently revised AAHA/VMG Chart of Accounts is an essential tool for small animal practices to classify and organize their finances – including revenue, expenses and balance sheets. This standardized chart of accounts is available for use by all veterinarians. It enables you to perform an apples-to-apples comparison of productivity, costs and profitability, and will give you a clearer assessment of your hospital’s finances.

Resolutions for pet owners

If you’re a clinical practitioner, be sure to remind your clients to include their animals in their New Year’s resolutions. Here are the resolutions we’ve suggested to pet owners to help their pets lead happier, healthier lives in 2018:

Exercise More – Keep your pet healthy with regular exercise and activity. Consider taking your dogs for more frequent and longer walks, or visiting the dog park to get some more active play. Cats also can be encouraged to move with new toys and games.

Eat Healthier – Improve your pet’s diet by eliminating table scraps and high-calorie snacks. Also keep food treats to a minimum and don’t give in to those sad, begging eyes at the dinner table.

Schedule a visit to the vet – Just like with people, one of the best ways to keep pets healthy is to catch illnesses and injuries early before they become a bigger problem. Resolve to take your pets in for regularly scheduled wellness exams to keep pets as healthy as possible.

Whether for pet owners, veterinarians, or other members of the veterinary team, New Year’s resolutions are rooted in prioritization and personal accountability. The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to take stock of your daily behaviors, and commit to owning your decisions. For more inspiration and ideas to take control of your wellbeing, visit To learn more about practice management and enhancing your business’ performance visit Together, let’s work to make 2018 the healthiest year yet!

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