PCWN – 030 – Dr Megan Alderson – The Strand Veterinarian – her journey to implementing mental wellness in her veterinary clinic
This transcript has been created using really smart AI – but sometimes it doesn’t always pick up the kiwi accent so some of the words may be a little out of context.
Julie South: 0:00
Welcome to Episode 30 of Paws Claws and Wet Noses, the podcast celebrating all creatures great and small, and the fantabulous professionals who look after them all. I’m Julie south, your show host. If you’ve been listening to the last two episodes, you’ll have heard veterinarian, Dr. Francesca Brown of Otago Polytech share her research and recommendations about how to have healthy staff and. A healthy bottom line at your vet clinic.. If you haven’t listened to those two episodes, then my suggestion is that you go back and listen to them because they’ll give you context for today’s show. You’re looking for episodes 28 and 29 at Paws Claws Wet Noses dot fm. This week, Dr. Megan Alderson of The Strand Veterinarian in Parnell in Auckland Godzone Aotearoa New Zealand generously. And I mean, generously, shares what she’s done, including her budgets, dreams, her strengths and her weaknesses so that you too can have a healthy and a flourishing team as well as a healthy and a strong bottom line. The Strand Veterinarian is a fully locally owned and operated independent companion animal clinic. Dr. Megan Alderson. And I have spent quite a bit of time on the phone as well as quite a few emails and messenger chats. So I felt like I kind of knew her, but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for her generosity, with the information she shared in this episode. We talked about her clinic’s journey over the last few years, her trials and tribulations that she went through to get The Strand Veterinarian where it is today, she held nothing back. And I mean that she shared different parts of her business’s budget. She talked about what worked and didn’t work about what to do and what not to do about her personality type, which is a bit similar to mine about her personality type and how it got in the way in the beginning. And then how she manages that really important and valuable strength of his today. I feel really humbled by Meagan’s generosity. And I think that this is one of those episodes that’s so jam packed for a valuable information that a couple of lessons will be required. So make sure you’ve got some way of taking notes because I think you’ll want to. Megan. And I caught up a few weeks ahead of this episode going to air So there’s a bit of a gap between recording this episode back then, and me doing all the post production work necessary to get the recording to air writing up my notes and all the stuff that takes place behind the scenes. It was later. While I’m recording this. It was later well after she and I recorded that, I actually had time to sit down and truly listen to everything that she shared. And that’s when I realized just how generous she was. As I said, just now this is one of those episodes. I think you’ll need to listen to a couple of times, because do you use current parlance, Meagan drops, value bombs throughout, listen to it once and then listen to it again and take notes because it doesn’t matter whether you’re a principal or an employee. Megan, shares plenty of action points for you to be able to make a difference in your clinic. And then it will make a difference on the bottom line. I’m interested to hear what you think about what Megan shared. So please let me know in the comment section, wherever you’re listening to this podcast, or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org And remember that if you haven’t already click the follow button on your favorite podcast channel, so you don’t miss out on future episodes of Paws Claws Wet Noses. It doesn’t cost you anything to follow a podcast when you click.
Bryan Gregor: 4:41
An old vet told my father when he was a student in Glasgow. He said, if you want to be a success in veterinary practice, just keep the bowels open and just arrested. God. Nutrition is not an opinion. It’s a science. They called me that weird herbal needle that, and I just remember thinking. Well, I’m still gonna do it because I know it works. And I’ve got the research to back it from reminiscences of the real James Harriet son to P nutrition, to acupuncture the podcast, discusses current animal health issues from around the world on veterinarian, Brian greeter from New Zealand, just search for the vet podcast, wherever you get your podcasts from
Julie South: 5:23
paws, claws and wet noses is sponsored by vet staff. If you’ve never heard of it, staff it’s new, Zealand’s only full service recruitment agency. 100% dedicated to the veterinary sector. Fitz staff has been around since 2015 and works nationwide from Kate, rehang it to the bluff and everywhere in between as well as helping Kiwis fit staff. Also helps overseas, qualified veterinarians find work in Aotearoa New Zealand vetstaff.co.nz.. Can you please, Megan, tell me as a woman, a professional veterinarian, a business owner, a wife, a mother. What does. Wellness and or wellbeing mean to you?
Megan Alderson: 6:21
I think it’s been a journey and I’m a grandmother now. So we’ll add that. We’ll add that to the list. It’s really been a journey as a woman, especially because I do feel as a healer, as a veterinarian, I have X of service, quite high on my list and family, client, patient business. Self, you know, that pretty much the order. Okay. And I think wellness is how you feel, maybe physically, mentally, emotionally, that wellbeing is bigger than that. So wellbeing, I think I do believe it’s made up word the uh, the Modi concept of. You know, building your house came to me in a dream. I think it was basically, I thought about it for my patients, my little four leaguers, and I thought yeast they’re bright. Okay. We do need to look at walls. We need to look at our roots of tentative fitter Benoa and we need to, we need to vote. Uh, a strong house, which is not just physical, not just emotional, not just spiritual and not just our family, but we need as woman as a profession is a wife, a mother, a grandmother. I need to look at all of those things and I need to look at myself first. So. The love, it was a very long answer, but wellness and wellbeing, a similar, but not the same. So wellness is feeling great. Being able to tune up for work and not having the cold or flu, you know, being mentally able and emotionally able to do things that wellbeing encompasses everything. And I think. No a spiritual part of that is for me messing. So I’ve been down this track for a long time. Um, I’m a avid self-help book reader, and it’s only really recently that I’ve feel like, um, I’ve had my sort of distinct moment to feel like I’m, I’m actually really starting a new path to myself.
Julie South: 8:30
Now, can I throw a question that you weren’t expecting? You’re married to a professional. Do you think it’s the same for men as it is for women?
Megan Alderson: 8:44
Very good question. And that I, I, I struggled with, um, I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression. Suicidal thoughts that, you know, like I’ve, I think I checked all the boxes throughout my career. That’s a 30 year career. So anxiety set with me for a very long time and it says the it’s Michelin. I have to deal with almost on a daily basis. And my husband is the opposite. He has the nothing box sorted. He can come home after a very tough day and he does. A very hot dog pizza either. He’s a surgeon and, you know, he had some tough cases and he can just be in that nothing box. And he breathes what I’ve recently found out. And I think very recently and I’m, and I videoed it to put on getting a essentially solutions, hide a Facebook page because it was such a mind mindblowing thought that. Every day, he de-stresses throughout the day. And this is what mindfulness based stress reduction is helping me with is every day when a, when a problem occurs, he, he breathes, he works through it. He saw it, he moves on. And I think that’s the difference with me and my monkey mind. I’ve got monkeys that come out of my head, um, on a regular basis. I meditate now and those monkeys that were always. Pulling around India. I’m fairly happy with that. Yeah, he, he, he definitely has an easier time, all that. Now, I don’t know if that’s male, female, or gender fluid orientated, but it definitely feels like. With my experience with women, I’ve got a team of 22 women that we all experience the same thoughts and the thought are a problem for us. So I think he just is always dealt with a better, he’s also learning how to breathe as a young man or child cause he had asthma. So he, he actually learned how to look after his parasympathetic nervous system very early on, which is also like a trick as an asthmatic myself. I always get a tie chest, struggled to breathe, never learned how to belly breathe until very recently. So that’s made a huge difference to me.
Julie South: 10:59
My husband is. Well, so had childhood asthma, he’s a professional, very high stress job for him. One of his key phrases is Julie panic slowly just got, and if you’re going to panic, do it slowly.
Megan Alderson: 11:18
And I think it is, it’s just, um, yeah, they just, they just live their life like that. So, yeah, it was so interesting. Isn’t that? Neuroscience.
Julie South: 11:27
Let’s talk about wellness and wellbeing in your clinic, because from the outside, looking in, you are one of the leaders, if not the leader and the New Zealand veterinary sector, that is. Able to enhance done adopted wellness into your clinic, and it has made a positive difference. Firstly, when did you decide that you needed to make a difference as the woman and business owner inside your business?
Megan Alderson: 12:06
I started my business back in 2009, and I had no idea couldn’t get near it, but, uh, you’re running a business different story. So I’ve done a lot of learning. And I went to an ice house course, which is a think tank company up in Auckland and got some government support for them, went to an ice house course on how to run your business. And they talked about, you know, what, what are the most important things? And what came out of that was when we did this exercise and it was all business owners in the room, it came out of it that working on my business and a good working life was the most important. Thanks for that business owner. It’s taken me years to achieve that. When I did the same exercise with my team, we had a big jump from a 52 square meter, very botique subtle railway shed and to a big building, 300 square meters and terrifying. It was back in 2007, 2015. And what I asked them was the same question and what came out of it was that looking after the team was going to be the biggest. And most important thing and profitability and growth factor for their clinic moving over the road. So I took that to hat. That’s put it always, all my people, performance indicators as a business owner, I’m like, right, this is the targets every year. So it was always on the left, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I see. What about we put it on the top of the list. What about if we read, basically make this the most important thing we reflect on when we make business decisions, how will that look? And we did so, and it showed amazing results, you know, incredible. I’m just gobsmacked. You know what that team-based solution has done forever.
Julie South: 13:56
Do you have a regular standard operating procedure, singly or plural? That is your clinic. Everybody knows. This is what we do.
Megan Alderson: 14:09
What I also found out about was, uh, um, it wasn’t if it was with the team, we did strength finder. And what I found out about myself was that number about 54 is consistent theme for me, SRPs are a real challenge. Um, I. Let’s try that. And it wasn’t until my business partner who I just absolutely adore and love came along in 2015, Dr. Justine alley. So when she came along, I knew that was something that was very high on history. So we were very good yin-yang partners and we’ve been now able to actually implement more standard operating procedures as an independent business that we also are very fluid to feedback and change. So. It wasn’t evolution for sure. You know, we would try this, see if that worked, if that didn’t work, try something else. And I think what. That’s sort of the question that we always came back to our core values and culture. So we, we developed a brand, we did brand work and decided who we were our, our it’s really interesting because it’s a word that comes very close to me and it’s hot or And then that means a lot compassion, sympathy, empathy. It encompasses a bigger meaning. And our core values within the business is stepping into your shoes. Treat them as your own and also grow, grow, grow big because we’re having an open mindset. And that, that those three values, um, were equally important to team as they were to patient and client. And we had to teach each other that. So. We refer back to those values. We don’t have a standard operating procedure. As far as the welding seat is concerned that. We have a lot of feedback from the team, listened to it and we change and we evolve every year and we get better. That’s that’s, you know, it’s really been a five-year journey to get where we are. And I guess now we’re ready for sharing.
Julie South: 16:23
Perfect seague. What did things look like on, at the beginning, in your first year of business around wellnesswhen you were my, my top strength on the strength finder is ideation. So I absolutely relate to you being all over the place because that’s, you know, I’m ideas and following systems and procedures does my head in. So what did, what did things, what did your business look like? From a wellness perspective in the first year to where it is now, because I’m sure that there are lots of listeners who will be in that first year. We’ll be able to recognize that first year.
Megan Alderson: 17:08
So, yeah, I’m a ideation too. And that drives your own crazy with that. I’ve got an idea, you know, I’ve got a great idea. What if we try this? What if we try that? Exactly. So I’m always very enthusiastic about my next idea that they don’t always fly. And I think we started with meetings. So really lots of feedbacks. So huddles protocols meetings. So that’s, I think how it all started. Five years ago, we looked at meetings on a regular basis every single day. That was. The tape and it was a solution place meeting sometimes gets a bit sort of, you know, we have to remind them of that. It’s not the problems. That’s a solution that you’ve come out with to the problems that you bring to the meeting. So we hit that every single day, you know, and they, again, they railed against it. Now we could be singing current and this time we could be doing something else or prepping for our surgery, et cetera, that every single day, the teammates and we talk about. The business and what we’re going to do and how we’re going to improve it, customer care. And in team care, et cetera, then. That sort of evolved into having a 10 minute or 15 minute session to ourselves. So we would turn the phones off. I know really, it was really hard, but turn the phones off. So we hit a 15 minute huddle and we talked about the day. Problems solutions. Then we had 15 minutes to ourselves and a client would have to sit and wait. The phones would be off. If the chain that we’re in a team meeting and those 15 minutes we started to enjoy or sit out that day is something special just for us. And then that I liken it to wandering Jerry. Once they introduced it, they wanted more and lucky everything. We had a bell-shaped curve, you know, we had like the early adopters and the people that really supported the, this change in mindset. And then we had everyone else who were quite happy just to go along so they could sit in there 15 minutes break. The end thing we had, people that didn’t want to be actively were destructive about those meetings. And we’ve shifted the curve. You know, far to the right now where every single team member enjoys them, sees the benefit of them has started bringing their own ideas to the meetings. Simple little changes like that will change the veterinary industry. I believe those who didn’t see the value in the beginning, those that were, I guess, the antagonists. Are they two questions? Are they still on your team if they are, how did you get them from where they were to being adopters of it? Yes, they still, all my team we’re really lucky to have. I’ve had a couple of. Nurses leave to get pregnant. And I just have to let them do that. The we’re looking forward to them coming there and we try and re try and create the space for them to be working. Mothers is a hard career for that, depending on where central city Auckland. So there’s always travel time to consider. And we, you know, we we’ve managed to retain our staff in. I think for me, it was really about just, you know, stay staunch, stay in it. And what started to happen as they heard the message, the seed was there and they heard the message and they started to comply and then they started to ask for it. It was like they would flicker, they would reflect those core values. That to me, it was just, again, it was just a slow creep. The weeds in my garden, which we talked about, you know, desperately said, euthanasia the client, guilty, guilt trips, those, all those weeds they have, you know, they’re still there. They’re going to be there every day. But the acceptance happened through, I did a sort of an eight week. Program which turns into an eight month program based on, you know, how we get into sit down, dairies, the give outs outs, then to brace, understand the importance of Greece. It was is really about exceeding what the veterinary day looked like every day, which has. Rollercoaster disaster, all sorts going on client complaints, thing, members, all sorts of things. But yeah, we just, we just grow with it and they could see that this is a place they never wanted to leave. And that’s what they say to me. I’ve ruined them. Absolutely ruin them. They can’t work anywhere else. So, and that’s, that’s across the board 100%, you know, my people that didn’t know weren’t a part of it. And now a big pat of it
Julie South: 21:50
That’s good to hear, because I’m sure that, you know, there’ll be principals and clinic managers listening to this thinking. It’s not gonna work here.
Megan Alderson: 21:59
Yeah. Baby steps, preventative care, baby steps. When did you realize that things were changing? What were you measuring? I think know, I think. No, we just tracked along and I’m still a working veterinarian and I’m on the floor about between 30 and 40 hours a week, still class management with my business. So I do. Give myself a break and say, you can’t do that. I think when we actually developed a practice management team, which has six of us that run the business now and they are, and that’s true of personality, types, skill sets, capabilities, and the front of house customer care coordinators, as well as it may take some dictionary nurses. As well as veterinarians So we have a management team and that’s when we really started to gain some traction because I, I guess I, I grabbed that skill seat of someone who could actually crunch data, was happy to sit there and, you know, and work on an analysis of, okay, how many sick days, how is our happiness at work scale? Doing. Opposite to compassion, fatigue. Um, how’s our burnout looking. So we actually started to use just really simple tracking techniques and we’ve got a year’s worth of data and we could see, we could see that we were actually making purchase. So, so that last, of course, that the dollars of down the bottom of the practice, you know, turning a. Couple of, to, you know, when we were trying to grow into our business from, I think it was that four or five staff members moving over the road in 2015 to 20 toe, you know, there’s like a growing pains of our business, the rain to feet track. We really started to see some positive profitability change. And then now I can honestly say that we’ve got to really stand out practice.
Julie South: 23:54
What things do you measure? If that’s not commercially sensitive.
Megan Alderson: 23:58
Well, we’re going to, I’ve talked to my team about how, how do they feel about sharing what we’re doing, you know, throughout the industry, how do they feel about sowing the seeds of change? And they have always been a hundred percent on board with it. So obviously we keep all, all details and private there that we’ve looked at and what the vets look like, what the nurses look like, what the front of house looks like. And I think we really worry during COVID that was a deep stress or for me, how, you know, it’s so much anxiety within our team. Just the, because we’re a woman narrate professionals and I say, veterinary professionals and anyone who’s working in the veterinary industry, I was so worried about it. I’m like, right. We have to track, you know, gave me the kick I needed to say, right. We need to track. We need to track these people are in trouble. Yeah. It was just squishing is so a pro quo, which is professionally quality of life survey through this asking online on the veterinary essential solutions page. I asked who’s using what got an answer for that. Very simple survey. They were, they agreed to do it because then you, the purpose of it was for me to look after them and the practice management team to look after them and look after them to the best of our ability. Yeah. And then we just looked at, it seemed to sit days over, over rostered period. We just looked at quarters, uh, and that’s been tough. Okay. So I’m not seeing a lot of success in this last quarter because I think there’s a hell of a lot of adrenal fatigue at the end. I think the best quarter we ever had was during lockdown. So we did see, we did see fantastic results during lockdown and our health figures. It’s low sick days and it’s just all sort of came to a grinding halt at the end of last year. And I think the last cautious thing, probably the worst group was saying, yeah, you know, that’s something I reflect on and say, well, how can we do better? You know? So how are we doing theaters? It’s taking that a path and maybe going back into nutrition, how do we nourish the team? How do we make sure that it’s sleeping properly? Where are the boundaries having half hour breaks at lunchtime? I think show that they, they do take their breaks, get outside, you know, stroll don’t scroll these. These are all these initiatives that as a business owner, I have to keep on working on and, you know, I’m, I’m always gathering ideas from them too, and saying we have an individual development review. I sit down with every team member every quarter slash a little bit over a quarter, given my time commitment. And I talked to them about what they individually names. Now hope that’s going to make a big difference to their health wellbeing, longterm. A of course, if they stay with us and continue to do the amazing job they do on a daily basis, if there’s somebody listening to this thinking, I cannot be my team’s mother. You know, personal responsibility comes into this. How do you reconcile in yourself with being. The business owner and, you know, health and safety at work and all of them. And also it’s, you know, your teams, your team, as an adult though, each member as an adult, personal responsibility does come into it. So how do you reconcile that yourself? And the veterinary industry that we can do to have a really thriving, viable business, create jobs, keep people, attract people. And I think that as as you said, self comes first. So that’s the flower that I talk about in my weedy garden on veterinary medicine. Mindfulness based stress reduction. As my, as my wandering jew, coming into the clinic and know helping to cover those weeds, you know, they’re always going to be there that self responsibility, self compassion, self care as a problem for us as stationary professionals. I think we have to accept that we are all responsible for doing something about that first, instead of like, I had to see that one more patient. If someone was sick, I had to come in, you know, like I’ve had to really step back and say, well, you need to practice what you preach a little bit more making. You’re not their mother, but I am in some ways it’s usually Justine’s the mother. I’m where the father stick, you know, mindfulness based stress reduction is. Is a philosophy that John Kebet very smartly created. He was a, uh, he was a doctor in working with patients with cancer, depression, and he developed a program that would help them with the pain. And that’s emotional pain as well as physical pain. What we’re now doing is, you know, saying to every team member that you are, you know, you are responsible for south. I, you know, W we we’ve, we’ve grown as leaders in the business and we’ve said, look, I can’t look at the view. I actually had to look after self. So I had to build this and I need to have enough chips to give to you. And in order to do that, I need to know peel back by onion, rang of surface to family and clients and patients and team and business. And look, what is my core. Needing to enable me to actually give what I want to give every day to you or so that’s a second thing is I think as a business, you know, we are responsible now to really put wellbeing of staff and team first, there would a foundation of a business. Based on wellbeing and stuff of the team and what we need to do as, you know, practice what lot the practices. There’s no point putting that up on the wall. You know, how about you go and do a webinar or a weekend course you need to be doing. Everything. Okay. So, so 20 things every day in the game, infiltrating the business with foundation of wellbeing 14 first, because we have to look after the tiers in order for the cures to carry on. And it’s busy out there. We all know where I’ve got a bit shorter or I’d say professional shortage I find of have now. But yeah, like it, it is crazy out there. And if you don’t. Peel back and go. We have to look after team first, the businesses it’s never going to be here. The, the team meeting that you talked about earlier that you have every day, what time of the day do you have there? We mucked around with us. There’s never a good time. That’s what we decided. I need some people who could make it because everyone’s busy or not. I like, it was really hard to gather a team and it’s got harder, you know, there’s no such thing. I remember starting out and we, we used to have morning tea to get when I was in tomorrow, my first job, I don’t know, have a half a tea in a discussion. It was, it was really interesting. We foundduring Covid We would make first thing in the morning. That was 8:00 AM in the morning. What we found is that there actually is the best time to meet every day and not put that first appointment, not, you know, have that client drop off. We make our team come first. And then once we’ve had that meeting and sometimes we’ll get a few phone calls then because we liked the phones over and we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, you know, book some agents for the day, et cetera, that then we can actually turn the phones off because we, that those phone calls, we can turn the phones off the, and if I see a client coming in, they’re just have a. You know, we’re in a, we’re in a team meeting, we will be ready to go at eight 30 and I explained to them what that’s about. And they are a hundred percent on board that. Why we’re actually in that meeting and how precious that time is instead of for us just to start the day. Well, instead of looking after the names, the is thing, nobody who actually has demanded service. And if there was probably I’d tell them to go somewhere else, If they can’t look after us, then you’re not going to look after them.
Julie South: 32:08
For somebody who’s listening, who thinks that team meetings are a bit too soft and fluffy, and definitely explaining that the team is in the soft and fluffy team meeting to a client. How do you explain that? So that the clients actually get it?
Megan Alderson: 32:29
Oftentimes we’re lying down. Like, uh, oftentimes we’re meditating. We do dim the light, you know, the team fed little blankets. Sometimes we’ll be doing yoga. Sometimes we’ll be doing something fun, like dancing around the back to you, music and unusual clothing. They get it, like, because it’s not like just we’re having a chat or actually doing something. So we are bringing a lesson to them and most of them will say to me, I wish I read in the workplace. You’re very lucky to be doing this. And I say, yeah, yeah, because it’s not just a veterinary thing, isn’t it. No, of course, I think before COVID hit the 2020, we would health organization report was saying that, you know, mental health is an out the new pandemic before the next pin in it. And then mental health will go back to being the primary pandemic, for sure, because of the anxiety around having a flu virus repair on the world. But yeah, it is, it is actually. The most dangerous thing to our profession is not looking after our mental health. How do you look at coming through how you grow those frontal lobe muscles? Like any kind of sports person would say you can’t, you can’t be run that marathon without actually doing some form of training and you can’t be training unless you’re actually doing it on a daily basis. So mindfulness is also with that sort of thing. You know, plucked out of the air and spread through every marketing avenue all over the world. Everyone’s getting on the mindfulness bandwagon, but doing an eight week course, we did a day retreat last weekend, a silent retreat with half the team. And this is going to be really interesting to compare it to the other half. So we have some exciting information that we hope to collate and put to back to the profession as. You know, it’s, it’s the key to our future. And I, and I truly believe there has been Salomon passionate about it. Yeah. I’d like to, I’d like to see that we can make a difference as a clinic got 22 Guinea pigs that are volunteering. So I have to say a big shout out to them. We’ve put up with my wild ideas and they accept it with forgiveness and grace. I think, yeah, that’s a pretty, pretty lovely thing to be a part of.
Julie South: 34:53
I think also you use the analogy of running a marathon just now, for example, meditation, you don’t just. Well, if you, if you try to meditate for the equivalent of 26 miles, it’s not going to work. You can’t go out and run a marathon straight up. So for somebody who’s listening, practicing, or starting off with just five minute meditation, because all this stuff comes into your head and you’ve got to just play it slowly.
Megan Alderson: 35:25
And I think, um, you know, um, meditation is also something you can do on a daily basis. Okay. So you can meditate in surgery, you can meditate while doing a gene tool. You can meet up, take mopping the floor. I love Techna ham. He’s one of my favorites because meditating is not about, um, you know, sitting in a corner, having no noise, no stress. There were helicopters over here. No bleeding animals running into the clinic. Meditating is, is, um, or mindfulness is a way of living. And you can do that by going for a walk outside for five minutes with your shoes off know grounding, and you can do it, um, just by petting an animal. Okay. That’s meditation or mindfulness. And we do that. We’re lucky enough to get to do that every day. And it’s just about a Wiener. So awareness of the thoughts that go through our head things saying, okay, what emotions are they creating in me? You know, especially in the hard days and things don’t go well. And then what ha instead of reacting and worrying it and ruminating it and just turning it over, like a dog and a bone, we now know how to respond to that, which is self care, self compassion, self responsibility. If you practice that. And you hit a horrible team in a horrible culture that will make a difference in that clinic. It’s just about, you know, Taking that step back and saying, if I can do this, I will make a difference. Good. Yes. The business owners, corporate culture and things, you know, they, they really nailed this down as well. But the thing is that every single veterinary professionals throughout New Zealand can make a difference to fund looking at itself.
Julie South: 37:10
We can’t change other people. We can only change our response to other people.
Megan Alderson: 37:17
I have a, um, you can lead a horse to water and you can’t make it drink poster that had developed just because of it. And I think, um, throughout, um, this COVID year, we, we offered, I love mentors and the coaches and the counselors. I love clinical psychologists, you know, they’re the people that help to support us. But I also had to exceed that. I could offer all of these things as a business signer, but yeah, I can’t make them drink. How is she asked by. You know, being a leader and practicing and the way I practice and how I live my life now, which is really because I think it got solidified by the mindfulness based stress reduction course, because this is the way forward. This is, you know, what I can do. And you guys watch me and follow in my follow in my footsteps as I lead the way, you know, and they did. Yeah, we’ve done it.
Julie South: 38:16
What, what was your biggest. Surprise your biggest, best surprise.
Megan Alderson: 38:26
My biggest, I was surprised because I’m like, nothing to do with work. Well, it is actually, I looked at my 50th and it was during COVID lockdown, you know, I I’m quite an introducer. So I said to my husband, I don’t want a big party and, you know, et trip, but yeah. I did expect there to be more than one person yet, which is him and the dog Dudley. Of course. So there was two of us at the party. Um, anyway, it was a lovely day. I had a lovely, lovely, intricate day and it was just, you know, the sky was that clean. There was goods in the trees. It was, you know, the earth was breathing. I loved it, but my girls. Did, um, I’ve, I’ve got a, basically a passion for what do you hate food? So I’ve got a lot of like Audrey Hepburn sayings that I had just spent at some, all the time. Anyway, we have Audrey words which is basically just ho-hum or basically when people do something else stained. And when we put it on that slack channel at the moment, we have a little Patty and. Wait crowns at feet tra and we, we just really loving light, just really positive. Yeah. I love getting one and I love giving one and they did a lovely Audrey video for me, where they actually all dressed up as Audrey HIPAA. They’re all at home because we were, we were on a split teams. They wished me happy birthday and it was very, very special. My proudest moment. For sure. Oh, my thing emotionally, just thinking about it. I’m like take break. Couldn’t breathe. My proudest moment is the bit near and as a business signer the whole lot, I just loved it. Did you see yourself when you went to this call? Is this where you saw yourself? Yes, I think so. I definitely, uh, like I’ve been put on this earth to make a difference. It’s one of my values, which I just recently found out. Thank you, Brene Brown. One of my, my values was make a difference and I did it for animals. I do it for my father now and now doing it for my team. And I hope that will lead into doing it for the profession. So. I, I did feel always that I had that purpose and it’s been, uh, you know, well, you know, the journey these last 10 years, especially if a business owner, no one prepares you for that, that it’s been wonderful. Yeah. I’m really enjoying the place I’m in right now. Did you always want to be a vet? Yes. I was one of those little girls, you know, if I was walking home from school and I sort of bird did bird on, take it home and give it a proper burial. I think I have a deep animal connection. I love animals. My, my, how to make Megan happy. Two three hours on a west coast beach or walking in Wanaka or with my four legged companions. You know, that is what makes me happy and it fills my bucket and it gives me the energy to help to fill those buckets. So it gives me the chips, but I don’t have that then. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not, not so good.
Julie South: 41:36
Megan, where would you suggest that? Clinic. Okay. Let’s two questions to two parts to this question. Where would you suggest that independent clinic owners start their journey? And then for somebody who’s listening to this episode and they have no financial vested, pecuniary interest and the business at all, where would you suggest they start to make a difference?
Megan Alderson: 42:07
Business owners especially independents IndieVets. So it’s been a really great collaboration of. Um, visionary minds. And I feel like we needed that. We needed to be somewhere that we could actually talk about ideas and because all of this is on the ether, you know, there is so many people out there and doing so much for mindfulness or throughout the world because we needed to right. Am I, my teacher says. Yeah, the whole of the east have been meditating for so long just to wait for the west to wake up. So there’s, there’s so much out there and there’s lots coming in there and the veterinary industry. So, so definitely online collaborating, connecting, and deviates is a great place to start getting really essential solutions. You know, I’ve always grabbed a lot of ideas from via that. Who’s, who’s the next person that actually. Gonna give me my crazier next good idea. And the in mindfulness based stress reduction courses throughout New Zealand, you know, you got to find a legitimately good one. So I’ve got, um, a list of, you know, good teachers. So, and I do believe that. Is something that will change every beat, every professional’s life. And I am a bit of an evangelist just because it worked for me. Okay. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to work for me anyway, but energy kvetch did a thesis study. You need to have a heroine or show proving that there was a significant difference in the UTC studies, who team, which I was one of them. 15 little Guinea, pigs state near you, Guinea pigs. I women, to me, it was sort of, you know, the professional split. Uh, it made a difference to us all in different ways, but you know, that’s a really good place to start for. The individual, I think is sake mindfulness-based stress reduction course and make sure that those people have the, you know, the high standards of training and personal experience for you. embark on that We didn’t talk about the budget question. How much should you be as a, as a company on this? Because neither been a line and the budget. Oh, I’ve always had, like, I have not. Financially orientated. It’s in the hardest thing to learn. But recently with the practice management team, we’ve split up the budget. So we acute take us to different sections. And I was really interested in that question that you asked. So how much do we see themed on team and how much is reasonable and how does that get distributed amongst the team? So I thought that was a really great question. And I can say that, you know, we looked at our, our budget with 16% of our total operating. Expenses goes to tain. And I don’t know how that compares. I’m interested to hear from other people. All owners of business, you know, actually, do you have a line in the budget for that? A lot of that is going this year to mindfulness based stress reduction course. And we have a team with treat. They like that. Actually we have a retreat day, which is specially for us. Look after us had helped set us up for the next year. So, so a big part of that. Budget goes to there. Then we’ve got DVD, which is a continuing education. And 25% of our team’s budget gets spent on their own personal preference. There might be a personal trainer you’re off to a pottery class, you know? So it is about. Thinking outside the square and saying, okay, well, you know, what’s going to motivate this individual. You know, I’ve definitely found different strikes, different bikes. There’s definitely no one size fits all for our team. They’re all very different because, and you look at the StrengthsFinder, anything will be very similar, but very different. And then the rest is on team celebrations, successes. You know, we have a budget for. People that need extra help. So it might be, um, I feel like, you know, they need to go after the, and that repair or counselor or, and, um, we certainly need to sort of, you know, cause that can get, you know, big chunk of the budget taken away. But we, we, we, we work on that as a team and I think. The rewards we get back from coming to work, being happy at work, creating a wonderful place for animals to heal as well, a hundred fold. Really? So, yeah, I think this year is a really the first year that we’ve actually said here is our how wellbeing that judge. This is what it looks like. You still got to stay in with them at how are we going to spend it? And we do that with the team meeting once a year. And then we look after each team member individually as well. So, so he had a lovely way to think about that. And that was a great question.
Julie South: 46:49
How many years have you run? One day retreats for?.
Megan Alderson: 46:53
Julie South: 46:54
Okay. So this is your first one coming up?
Megan Alderson: 46:57
Last year. Last year was your first one.
Julie South: 47:00
How scary was it to close your clinic for a day?
Megan Alderson: 47:06
Uh, it was good, but love debt, but had enough, you know, we, we really had throughout and I’m sure every bit new professional listening to this knows this. If one more person says to me, I’d just like another lockdown, so I can have three days off. I’m like, okay, well, we didn’t get any time off. Um, we worked Easter hat and we had during, you know, like. Difficult condition. It say that we had to literally change our lives overnight health and safety, uh, expectations, a huge morale, anxiety levels, all those things we had to deal with and we need to go to race. I think, you know, the team tagged on and they’re amazing everyone. When I asked them to step up, they took two steps forward and I think. Yeah, I just, I’ve lost my track of thought. Now, thinking about that time of the PTSD story, myself, working on that. Yeah. I think it’s been a really hard year and yeah, I think, yeah, all we can do is say let’s put that behind us and actually move on that. Yeah. How are we going to do that? Celebrate the year at the end of the year with a retreat. And I’m a futurist. Okay. Now I think in the picture, I never look at the past. Yeah. We’re looking forward to the next one. How did you decide what a retreat would look like? A mentor that I’ve worked with for a number of years. And, you know, my dream was always to fly everyone down to Wanaka and we had a retreat down. The air-con such, you know, for me, it’s a very special place. She’s and she’s made a huge difference to my life. Everybody needs a mentor or counselor or shrink, whatever you want to call them. You, you need help. Every, every single human being needs help, that might be a partner. You know, that might be a team member that might be, I don’t know your mother or your father. I don’t know that everyone needs, she, she guided me to such a play for, I thought, I think this would be a wonderful thing to do for the team and a really good actually we think to retreat for the first one more light and a massage. This was really. The second one. It was, it was self work. So working on south south compassion, South Korea self-responsibility and in a game just we’d practice for a year of revive or 10 minute, 15 minute session. So they were. You know, they’ll match, fit and ready to do that as a team. And it was an incredible bonding experience. We have quite a few new team members at that stage. And I think, you know, that just, they just jumped right into the team during a hard time when we’re all busy and we hit that one day off. That’s what we came back to reclose the clinic in nobody complained, not one, not one glide.
Julie South: 49:54
How far in ahead, did you plan it?
Megan Alderson: 49:56
Who do it on the fly? You know, I think we just started, I think I had a mad idea in August that we were going to all flash Wanaka. And then the logistics of it, having, you know, going into liberals all the time. And if he isn’t featuring, you know, holidays being scuttled, the front and center, I zip that one up. And then, um, yeah, we basically organized it and probably within about six weeks. And it, and it worked. Yeah, it just worked. It was a beautiful time for us to join as thought out and also bring our partners into the situation for a celebration that evening after our traits and a really special time to be with the team.
Julie South: 50:34
So that was more than just your team then.
Megan Alderson: 50:36
It was, it was everybody that somehow. Associates cause I support as you know, so they have to hear the minds at the end of the day, um, when things didn’t go well, or, you know, someone said something, you know, they’re the ones that are our sounding boards and I equally needed to appreciate and acknowledge theme for what they’ve been through, especially my partner. Yeah. Yeah. That was a lovely way to it.
Julie South: 51:02
So you flew to Queenstown.
Megan Alderson: 51:04
No, we went up to Maharangi east. So we, we drove because it was just. Doable, we weren’t going to get coordinated closure. We could still do it no matter what level we’re in and the ambition this year as Queenstown. That’s the back to the ambition. Yeah, we’ll say it’s um, it’s it’s it is hot of the. You know, out there, putting that thought out, I’m going to make that happen. I don’t want to over promise. I’m just not sure what that means this year. So, but anyway, like that is our ambition to all of us close the clinic and go down there and actually enjoy working together.
Julie South: 51:44
I wish you well.
Megan Alderson: 51:45
Julie South: 51:47
As I said, at the beginning of this podcasts, there are lots of things that you can put into action from today’s episode, whether you’re an employer or an employee that can make a difference to your life, personal and yeah. Professional. If you’re an independent or not operated clinic, please check it IndieVets. I N D I E. vets. I’ll put a link to that on the show notes page for this episode, in the meantime, the a website is indieviets.co.nz. For more info on Indie Vets check out episode 25. That’s where I caught up with Dr. Steve Merchant of indie vets. And as I said before, if you’re the owner or a manager of an independent clinic, then you owe it to yourself. I believe this is life. According to Julie, I believe to check out IndieVets. And today’s show Meagan talked about Ana Djokovic and mindful based stress reduction or put links to Ana’s research and findings on episode 30 at paws claws wet noses. Dot F M for you to check out that as well. Ana and I are currently doing our best to sync our diaries so that she can be a guest here as well. So keep your eyes and ears open for that episode. Next week as Dr. Brian Gregor. Of the vetpodcast. Dr. Bryan is a former clinic owner. Now retired living the good life, getting in as much fishing as he can cheese making end podcast. As I mentioned a. Few weeks ago, I feel really privileged to have Dr. Bryan on the show because I haven’t this isn’t the first time you’ve heard me say this. The vetpodcast is what Paws Claws Wet noses has dreams of being when it grows up. Thank you for listening. Remember to click the follow button wherever you listen to your podcast so that you don’t miss out. Kia monarchy T Artur. Paws claws and wet noses. It’s sponsored by vet staff. If you’ve never heard of it, staff it’s new, Zealand’s only full service recruitment agency. 100% dedicated to the veterinary sector VetStaff has been around since 2015 and works nationwide from Cape Reinga to the bluff and everywhere in between as well as helping Kiwis VetStaff also helps overseas, qualified veterinarians find work in Aotearoa New Zealand VetStaff.co.nz