I love New Years! Mind you, it is not New Year’s Eve that I enjoy. This introvert does not enjoy the gluttony, excess and lateness at my age. I do enjoy the start of a new year. New Years is a time to reflect on where we have been and where we and especially I am going. At our first staff meeting of the year, the whole staff will get together and define Guardian Animal goals. Of course, I already have some.

I am proud of what we accomplished this year. We are continuing to do better and better, more advanced dentistry. Proper dental care allows pets to live longer and do better. Next to vaccines and preventing car accidents, dental cleaning may be the most beneficial thing for quality and quantity of life. Stephanie is good enough with the digital dental x-ray sensor and software to allow her to take an image of my tooth when the temporary crown was too tall on one side. I am signed up to take a new class on dental radiology to find more subtle pathology this spring in addition to the monthly dental masterclasses I attend. We also have a new oral camera coming. Steph and I are still finishing up our intensive online advanced dentistry course.

Many people have experienced some of our afternoon staffing issues. Quality staffing is getting harder to find and keep. People do not want to work as many hours or the after school hours. We are trying to alleviate some of the client issues with technology. Texting in for refills or using our app can allow us to prepare them for quicker pickup. But texting on the way in after 4:00 pm, probably won’t mean your script is ready when you get here fifteen minutes later. As always a morning appointment is more likely to be seen on time than an afternoon appointment. Growth is good, but it does require work. And in a market where businesses are closing because they cannot get qualified staff, I think we are doing okay. One of our goals for 2019 is to improve our online pharmacy. This may include a new partner pharmacy.

Client communication is a repeat focus area this year. Look for reminders by email, text, and postcard. Emails will allow us to do more things that clients have asked for. During the year, 12-24 email blasts will provide monthly reminders for heartworm and flea medications, Fourth Thursday events and brief pet information.

Another goal is to complete a mock AAHA inspection this year. The American Animal Hospital Association is a voluntary organization of hospitals who agree to meet higher standards and be periodically inspected. It is not our year to get inspected, but medicine and standards change quickly. The huge value of AAHA is not the inspection, but the introspection that goes into preparing and making sure that we really are state of the art.

We are going to work more with some of the veterinary school programs. We are working with a technician/nurse program and for veterinarian students. We have worked out some housing possibilities and other details. We also will be getting checklists for all positions, so we can work with some local special needs students. Meanwhile, I continue to be in contact with the young doctor at The Big Fix in Africa to provide some mentorship and friendship.

I am also starting out the year with two speaking engagements in January. I will be talking at the Boyd County Bee School. Then I will be talking about my recent trip to Africa working with a vet clinic to help stop the rabies epidemic.

In the writing department, I have taken a couple of years between It’s Not Just Puppies and Kittens books. I actually have 3, 4, 5 and 6 in extremely rough draft form. These books seem to be well liked, but I need to work on getting more exposure. Formatting has been a big problem, but the template should work for the other books. I need to have a higher priority for In Defiance of Tradition about my time in the Coast Guard Academy. I am thinking published by my 40th reunion (2020)!

As in many years, Some of us will go to the Ohio Mid America Veterinary Conference. I would also like to try to go to another national conference and take someone with me. I don’t know if it will be the AVMA in Baltimore or a different conference. There are several webinars that I have already planned and paid for next year. I don’t know if a dog sled volunteer position or a trip to Africa or something new is in 2019, but I want to do something.

On a personal level, I want to use the climbing wall more often, garden, walk in woods weekly, and work on having a life. I have a virtual reality PS4 that has not even been set up. It has been suggested and is entirely possible that I spend too much time at Guardian Animal. A practice manager should help that. In the meantime, we have split up the duties. It seems that even a portion of what I do other than veterinary medicine can be overwhelming for one person.

I think that New Years is an exciting time of year! Every year I, and by extension GAMC, have progressed. Not that we are perfect. No one ever is. But that it is exciting to sit down and contemplate the tremendous possibilities for the New Year! And I am off to a good start. I even drank 18 ounces of water today!