This month I will have been a territory manager with Avacta for a decade. Driving around the Suffolk countryside on a sunny summer’s day I feel very lucky. Stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts of Dunstable on a rainy winter’s evening a little less so.
It’s been interesting watching the profession change during this time… The rise of the corporate practice and diversification of buying groups, the expansion of the referral practice with all the amazing possibilities it can offer and the corresponding growth of the pet insurance sector.
I’ve also noticed an encouraging shift in attitudes to serology. When I first joined Avacta, IDST was widely accepted as the gold standard, with serology as a decidedly second rate alternative. But increasingly both GP vets and specialists seem to value the role of serology when investigating potential hypersensitivities, either as an affordable and practical first option or alongside IDST to provide a more comprehensive picture.
This is of course only my personal observation, but visiting hundreds of very different practices over a wide geographical area throughout the last decade provides a fascinating insight into the profession.
When I first started a couple of the practices on my patch clung onto their old card filing systems. These offered hand written (often illegible) record of clients and their pets, the fatter ones held together with staples, paper clips and in extreme cases, for those that went back decades, rubber bands.
Practices are getting so much smarter… A dingy waiting room with a suspicious smelling doormat is no longer good enough! Modern waiting rooms are clean and bright and full of eye catching client information. Seasonal displays are particularly popular, be it the dangers of Easter eggs and mince pies, our very own Pet Allergy Week display in June, or tips on of getting terrified pets through an ever louder and longer firework season.
One of the frustrations of the job is making and keeping appointments. It can be very demoralising when a carefully planned day involving hundreds of miles driving falls apart in the space of a few last minute phone calls, and you’re left with an empty diary and a bag of unwanted sandwiches, especially when you know you have some great new tests that the practice would really benefit from. But I’ve seen it from the other side too and I know how busy it can get … How a seemingly civilised ops list can multiply after a few unexpected admissions and a lunchtime appointment with a rep becomes an impossibility.
On the whole the veterinary profession is a pleasure to deal with. Busy, yes, but usually interesting, intelligent and welcoming. I particularly like those who appreciate the need for a cuppa after a long drive. And working for Avacta gives me the chance to sell a range of tests that can offer quick and affordable relief to hundreds of itchy animals. So here’s to the next 10 years!
Written by Nancy Stephenson – Territory Manager (East)
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