Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists: a disruptive veterinary hospital that everyone should know about

Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists: a disruptive veterinary hospital that everyone should know about 

We all know that veterinary technician retention is a huge challenge in veterinary medicine. This is nothing new. Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists, a new hospital and trailblazer in Denver, is tackling retention and many other challenges in veterinary practice by implementing a new, sustainable veterinary hospital model. 

Mountain Star Veterinary Specialists was opened by Dr. Matthew Chavkin, with the mission to “provide the highest quality of care by focusing on clinical excellence, effective communication, and healthy practice culture.” Of course, in theory, that should be every veterinary hospital’s goal. So what exactly is so unique and innovative about Mountain Star? 

Mountain Star Veterinary Hospital has successfully secured experienced, outstanding veterinary technicians by creating a safe and supportive work environment, and big surprise, by paying them a living wage! According to Dr. Chavkin, each technician is paid at least $30/hour, which equates to $60,000/year. Mountain Star determines their pricing model based on their priority of ensuring staff members’ wages afford them financial independence. An average new patient exam at Mountain Star, inclusive of diagnostics, is $550.

The premium price for care at Mountain Star does not come without elevated, advanced healthcare. As Erin and I toured the space, we saw the high-level technology, hospital equipment, and special attention to inclusion of the client in the care of their animal. In fact, contrary to most veterinary hospitals, you could see the entire floor of the hospital from the lobby. Clients are in the room during their entire appointment. Adding this engaging element to the client-doctor experience is a premium that loving pet owners can justify. 

Not only did the attention to detail elevate the experience of the client, but also the everyday workplace culture for technicians. Everything down to the employee bathroom ensured that technicians are cared for in this practice. 

In addition, each new hire has been personally recruited by a current member of the Mountain Star team. This was a detail that was emphasized by Dr. Chavkin, with the intention of holding a high-level of excellence in their staff performance and encouraging a safe, cohesive environment between employees. Contrary to the usual young workforce of veterinary technicians, the average age of non-DVM staff is 39 years. Talk about experienced technicians! 

So what exactly are attainable elements of Mountain Star that you can implement in your practice now? For starters, pay your technicians a living wage!!! Celebrate your employees’ achievements, give them agency over their schedule (we all have personal lives), successfully delegate tasks, utilize your technicians, check-in with your staff, and empower employees by literally giving them the power! Once the power shifts into the hands of the employees, the impact across their practice and own ability to perform is sustainable and huge. 

In an anonymous survey given on the first day of work, employees identified their top reasons for choosing to work at Mountain Star as the following (in order): “Feeling Valued, Practice Culture, Team, Great Patient Care, Supportive Doctors, Learning Environment”. Would your hospital’s team say the same?

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