This August marks twelve years since I started at Wilderness Animal Hospital. It’s been great. I can honestly say I couldn’t have imagined a better career path. When I graduated (30 years ago!) I never thought I’d own a practice. I just wanted to follow in James Harriot’s path and work on every type of animal. So I started doing a combination of ambulatory mixed animal practice and small animal practice. I also filled in at a local emergency hospital. I ride horses for my hobby and it was impossible for me to go to a horse show and not have to work on a sick horse. So, I decided to go into small animal medicine to separate my personal from my professional life. I worked at some great practices, small animal exclusive and small animal and emergency. I always worked closer to Seattle and commuted, but when Wilderness Veterinary Clinic went up for sale, I took a chance and I haven’t looked back since. Working in the community where I live is the best case scenario. I really enjoy being part of the community events like the Farmers’ Market. And I love working with Marie Page and her FFA classes. It’s great to see the students’ enthusiasm for agricultural science and it rekindles my passion for my profession.
Wilderness has continued to change and grow during my tenure. We changed our name from Veterinary Clinic to Animal Hospital when the sign needed to be replaced. For many reasons, but a big part of it is that it is easier for a receptionist to say “animal” than “veterinary.” We have increased our hours of operation, and the number of veterinarians at the practice. Maple Valley is full of commuters and we really wanted to be open when people are home. We are a Gold Level Cat Friendly certified practice and all of our doctors and support staff have gone through Fear Free training. In 2016 we expanded into the space next to us, adding two exam rooms and a cat waiting area. I especially love the wall behind the reception area, it is a happy accident. I ran out of money, so my friend and I (Jo Haverfield- DIY guru!) put up cork on the wall. And if I do say so myself, it looks great. An added bonus is that we can pin things, like Christmas cards, to the cork.
I’m especially proud of our most recent accomplishment. When I purchased Wilderness, I wanted to make the practice AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited. Unfortunately, the scrub sink was in the surgery suite, and AAHA would not consider Wilderness until we remodeled, and moved the sink out of surgery. What does AAHA accreditation mean? To become accredited, we were evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence. These standards are above and beyond basic standards set forth by the state’s practice act. The standards include patient care and pain management, surgery, pharmacy, laboratory, exam facilities, medical records, cleanliness, emergency services, dental care, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, and continuing education. The entire team worked hard to prepare for the evaluation, and I couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment. We now proudly display the AAHA logo on our front window and our website. For more information on AAHA accreditation you can visit:
Last and most importantly, I have been so lucky to work with such amazing people. I am constantly impressed by past and current employees. The high school kids that work as kennel assistants that are so hungry to learn, the compassion and dedication all the support staff has for every pet that comes through our doors, the enthusiasm they have for incorporating Fear Free and Cat Friendly handling (when you come to visit, your dog will get the cutest bandana that also will help reduce their anxiety!)
Every doctor I have worked with at Wilderness, past and present, has challenged me to keep learning and do the best medicine possible. It is such an honor to be surrounded by these people and have them represent Wilderness Animal Hospital.
So… what’s next? Well, I am an agent of change and will continue to keep growing and improving. Keep an eye on us, you never know what we might be up to next!
As usual, go to wildernessvet.com or our Facebook page to keep up with what is happening. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.