January 11, 2018

How to Get Your Staff On Board With Fear Free

Even if you already know you want to implement Fear Free at your practice, says Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, you still need your veterinary staff to get on board.


Even if you already know you want to implement Fear Free techniques at your practice, says Laura Muller, LVT, nursing manager at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, you still need your veterinary staff to get on board.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Something that is really, really important and necessary with Fear Free is getting that staff buy-in, making it easy for people to get into it. We started out in this career because we’re passionate about pets, we’re passionate about good medicine. Taking emotional health into consideration is really good medicine. It’s what people want, it’s what our patients need, it’s what we need to do. So, doing it the old way, it’s worked and we’ve got it done, but we shouldn’t have that ‘get-er-done’ mentality anymore. We should do it in a humane, compassionate, modern approach. And Fear Free is just a title, an umbrella, where all these techniques come together. 

I think getting that buy-in from staff, making sure you have a Fear Free ambassador, or what I call ‘cheerleader’ for Fear Free. We drink the juice on it, but it makes sense, it’s not rocket science.  We want it to make sense and we want our clients to understand it because that shows value in what we do. We also want doctors to get on board. 

Applying Fear Free in your hospital does not just mean valuing safety. Safety is always first. But when you go the hospital, they’re not strapping you down, putting you in a straightjacket so you don’t bite anyone. Sometimes in veterinary medicine we’ve gone astray from making sure that we’re caring about the emotional aspect, and I think implementing Fear Free, calling it low-stress handling, calling it bribery, just doing these things to make it easier for your patients. And assign someone in your hospital that is very peppy, that is really passionate to man that. You can have them host internal CE, you can have them hand out in a part of your staff meeting success stories or client feedback. Staff hates change, but change is for the better sometimes, and even that is hard to accept. So, as long as you get that cheerleader for your practice, as long as you educate your doctors, safety isn’t going to be diminished, you’re just looking for those subtle nonverbal signs and trying to keep that pet in a positive, emotional state of mind. It’s better for them and it’s easier for staff in the long run.”

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