Above and Beyond – Associate Veterinary Clinic Employees Rewarded for Hard Work

Published by VCA Inc. in Associate Veterinary Clinics, Canada, Veterinary Staff January 23, 2017

Associate Veterinary Clinics in Canada (AVC), a member of the VCA Family, knows that at the heart of caring for pets is the employees who work hard everyday. Every hospital has many staff members who contribute to helping millions of animals each year. Front office staff, veterinary technicians and assistants, supervisors, administrators, human resources, finance and more. In partnership with Bayer Animal Health, each year AVC selects a team member (non-dvm) who goes above and beyond in their work and the community. A winner is selected from the East and the West to attend the North American and Western Vet Conference respectively. In 2015, AVC proudly selected the following winners: Laura Wicks (Westside Animal Hospital, www.westsideanimal.ca)  and Nicole Schuster (Riverbend Veterinary Clinic, riverbendveterinarian.com). As AVC prepares to announce the 2016 winners, we look back at the experiences of the two 2015 winners and what it meant to each of them.

Review from Nicole Shuster (West Winner):

When we received the email about this opportunity, a couple of us girls thought, wow that would be pretty cool! But really what are the odds one of us would actually win?  I mean, there will be some really tough competition and not to mention the hundreds of submissions.  Once I found out that my clinic had decided to nominate me I was overwhelmed with joy and even teared up a bit. Still, I was doubtful I would even have a chance given there are so many hard working and dedicated staff in so many clinics. The chance of winning a trip to Vegas to attend the conference… blew my mind.  I still remember the day they would be releasing the names coming and going.  My office manager was out for the holidays at the time so I was extremely happy for whoever had won and just hoped it was someone in Edmonton that I knew!!  A few days later my ROD Ruth called and asked to speak to me.  I can still recall the conversation like it was yesterday.

The exact conversation went:

Ruth-” I have some good news for you”

Me- ” We are getting new phones?! ” (we were having some serious phone issues at the time) Ruth-” No better”

Me- ” I don’t know what is better than new phones?” Ruth- ” You won the Above and beyond award, you’re going to Vegas!!”

Needless to say I started crying and went straight to the back to tell the girls that I had actually won!!

From that moment I started planning which sessions I wanted to attend, what sights to take in and everything in between as this was my going to be my first time being there!

Once in Vegas the conference was like nothing I had ever been to! From the swag to the mass amounts of information!  I had information overload and took page after page of notes to bring back to my clinic.  I learned about fear free visits, keeping the clinic up to date with social media tricks, how to appeal to feline clients.  I even got a little insight to a program called VetStreet! The Vegas conference and the night life for a whole week was just spectacular. I had enough time to see a few sights that I really wanted to see as well!!  By the end of the week I was just as excited to get home to tell everyone what I had learned as I was when I boarded the plane to Vegas.  We have been able to implement a few things to help both clients and pets with fear free visits, as well as a couple other little tricks I learned.  The whole experience was amazing, eye opening and a true privilege.  It was a crazy feeling to be rewarded for doing what I truly love and have a strong passion for and am deeply grateful for the opportunity!

Thanks again,


Above and Beyond Experience, 2015Above and Beyond Experience, 2015


Review from Laura Wicks (East Winner):

These seven days were literally one of the best experiences of my life. Not only in my professional life, but also personally. It started off with me attending three sessions on how to manage our online reputation, how to monitor reviews and how to engage our clients both satisfied and not-so-satisfied. I learned just how important this role of our clinic can be, and how damaging it can be if not tackled properly. This lead to me being properly prepared to learn all about successful execution of our clinic’s social media.

I then learned about how to build and maintain proper communication not only with out own doctors, support staff and management teams, but also with the part of our team that we often forget about, which is our clients. This included the role of the regular meeting, hospital rounds and a regular schedule of performance reviews that were not only once per year. We also had a vast discussion on why opening communication with difficult or “crazy” clients is always better than closing it. Communication has always been something that I am overly passionate about, and this really refreshed that for me.

Finally and the most influential to myself personally was that I attended a two and-a-half-day lecture series on how to improve and excel at the end-of-life experience. This was run by a team of two women who started their own business specifically focusing on this crucial time in the pet and client’s lives and shared so much incredible information on how to excel at making this devastating yet most memorable time. What I brought back from this specifically brought me and our clinic.

I can’t thank my amazing team at Westside, my incredible clients and patients, and AVC/VCA for the opportunity of a lifetime. I feel so much more prepared and fulfilled to bring these practices back to my clinic. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Above and beyond, 2015Above and beyond, 2015Above and beyond, 2015

About Associate Veterinary Clinics

At Associate Veterinary Clinics, pets comes first. We are a growing family of 80 hospitals in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec with over 350 veterinarians and 2000 team members. As a veterinarian-led and Canadian managed company, we offer a unique and collaborative environment focused on what matters; best medicine, our patients and our clients. We have the knowledge, experience and track record to ensure a positive and thriving hospital environment.