CVA/TTVA Workshop – Getting the edge: surviving in challenging times

On the 1st May 2016 the Commonwealth Veterinary Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Veterinary Association held its inaugural one-day workshop entitled, ”Getting the Edge Surviving in Challenging times”.  The event was convened at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel on the island of Trinidad. While catering mainly to private practitioners of the twin island republic, it was able to attract the CVA councillor for Barbados, Dr David Walton, thus making it a truly regional workshop. Also present was the President of the Caribbean Veterinary Medical Association, Dr Paul Crooks. Though inclement weather dissuaded several individuals from attending, 32 of the expected 50 veterinarians were present to hear discourses by the very competent speakers. There were 15 of the estimated 35 clinics on the island.

This workshop was quite historic in marking TTVA’s first one-day workshop to include four speakers and its first collaborative effort with the CVA. It was also significant, in being the first official national/regional veterinary workshop to focus on pricing and fee issues, as part of clinic management.

Thanks to the significant support of Purina the workshop was hosted at the Marriott.

The presenters were all professionals in their fields. The opening speaker Ms Keri Bailey of Purina was exceedingly helpful as she explored the opportunities for veterinarians to augment income in the sale of pet foods. Her presentation was stimulating as it featured interesting trends in the pet industry and looked at future perspectives.

Dr. Henry Bailey from the Authur Lok Jack School of Business University of the West Indies (UWI), was the feature speaker. His presentation gave much food for thought. His words were insightful, useful and applicable to the situation of nearly all participants. Dr Bailey’s discourse challenged veterinarians to consider the methods by which their fees were set and to determine if they were price takers or price setters. He helped vets to better appreciate how their fees were commensurate with their services, the categories of consumers and approaches to deal with complaints on pricing.

Mrs Ann Marie White a librarian at Cave Hill UWI, gave a most useful presentation on proper data storage and its application in the clinic. She explored the common approaches to storing clinic data, errors in data collection and security measures in preventing data loss.

Stimulating, exciting and informative, could best describe the time of Mr Roger Moore, our closing presenter. Mr Moore the director of Cash Flow Club, explained differences between employees, self- employed, investors and business owners. He also explored the connections between Mission, leadership and teamwork in the clinic.

This workshop gave our vets an opportunity to share lunch and time together. It was a moment to also review the information of the morning and renew friendships. For the recent graduates it was a chance to learn from established colleagues. At various intervals, colleagues were invited to share a poolside snack or drink. Those moments were truly helpful in strengthen bonds developed over the day.

Before completing the day, there was a CVA book distribution. Books were presented by the CVA’s immediate-past councillor Dr Michelle Mellowes, Current Councillor Dr Lisa Benjamin and Dr Karla Georges.

The day culminated with a lively, interactive discussion on the challenges of dealing with individuals masquerading as veterinarians and solutions to this problem. Veterinarians concluded by exploring the worth of their professional service and agreeing to develop the foundation for a common veterinary business venture.

The vote of thanks was given by the president of the TTVA. Dr, Karla Georges, who thanked all participants, sponsors and the planning team. All participants were given parting gifts of non-alcoholic wine. Fruit baskets were also given to all presenters.

I would personally wish to acknowledge the hard working plan committee which consisted of Drs Michelle Mellowes, Lisa Benjamin, Ayesha Alexander, Sabrina Thomas and Mrs Samantha Padilla.