Dr Alexandra McLaughry MVB is owner of BarburVet, a small animal hospital in Portland, Oregon, USA; and is Chief Medical Officer for Vet Badger, a practice management system software provider. Alexandra explains how the experience of owning her own practice led her to develop new practice management software to meet her hospital’s needs, and establishing VetBadger alongside her husband.

Please summarize your journey / biography:

My journey for VetBadger started when I took the giant step of practice ownership. I had worked at a corporation for eight years, learned a lot and had a good idea of what I wanted to advance in my professional life. I took the bold step to take the position as the lead veterinarian in SW Portland at a small independent practice that shared doors with a veterinary cardiologist.

I took the role with passion and vigour and with the help of an amazing team. I struggled with finding Practice Information Management Systems (PIMS) with the ability to communicate with my clients; even with the basics of emailing my clients exam reports and lab results. There weren’t any PIMS that offered these basic tools of making client reports or to email or text clients. I needed a new PIMS for the practice but I wanted one that saved me time and aided client communication. I knew that if I wanted my business to thrive, that my clients deserved better communication than what was available.

Alexandra McLaughry

Stephen, my husband, understood my frustration even when I worked for a corporation, and put together a software communication tool. He added software onto the communication tool to form VetBadger. I soon started to wean myself off the giant lumbering server and switched to VetBadger. My business literally grew and changed with VetBadger. We were both constantly changing and experimenting with our businesses to grow and make my professional life easier and more efficient.

Describe your typical day from waking to sleeping:

I have multiple pets, so I get up a little earlier at 5:50am to feed my pets: tortoise, rabbit, two dogs and two cats, and walk my dogs. I have breakfast with the family and then ride my bike to work while the kids ride to school.

Alexandra McLaughry

My day starts with a surgery/dental patient and my team and I enter details into VetBadger for the drug dosages and exam notes. The surgery/dental patient gets a surgery discharge and exam notes with attached radiographs, lab tests that were performed and an explanation of results.

After lunch my team and I are all on our individual Chromebooks, checking in appointments, entering treatment plans and showing clients estimates during the appointment. After each appointment I email the client an exam report with a text to have them check their email. As soon as I get results of any labs or radiograph reports I email them to the client via VetBadger.

My last appointment is at 5pm and we finish at 5:30pm. I email the last exam report to the client and head out the door at 6pm. After 6pm I put on my bike gear and ride home. Stephen has dinner ready, I shower, eat, finish my charts and watch a bit of TV, read a book and go to bed.

How would you describe yourself in a sentence?

I am always learning, changing and growing and ready for new challenges athletically,

personally and professionally.

How would others describe you in a sentence?

“Dr. Alexandra is a dedicated and hardworking veterinarian who can win bicycle races and teach her teenagers how to bake fantastic homemade bread.”

What has been your top success and what have you learned from this?

My top professional successes have been buying my business and real estate. Always thinking about return on investments (ROI) is important in purchases.

“The Covid-19 pandemic taught me to take a step back so I can take ten steps forward.”

What has been your biggest challenge, setback or failure and how have you

overcome it? How did you grow or change as a result?

My biggest setback was the Covid-19 pandemic. 75 per cent of my staff quit without notice, leaving me to learn all the job roles. It taught me to take a step back so I can take ten steps forward: I decreased my work week to four days, installed my husband as my partner in running my practice and acting as a practice manager, and gave my staff more perks and increased pay (quarterly and production bonuses). I have grown and flourished with a smaller team and even as a solo veterinarian.

Alexandra McLaughry

What compromises have you had to make and what, if anything, could have helped?

A compromise has been changing to a four-day work week and being okay with being a solo veterinarian. It has been great for me personally and for my staff.

What advice would you have given to your younger self, that you would now give to

others wanting to follow your path?

I don’t think I could have done anything differently due to the challenge of initial business

ownership, but I would warn myself that I will need learn and master all the roles in the clinic whether I want to or not.

I couldn’t have got where I am today without…

My husband and family

What are your three top likes?

1. Cycling/hiking

2. Traveling

3. Eating good food and making/baking good food

What are your three top dislikes?

1. People that don’t show up or are constantly late to work

2. People that don’t own up to their mistakes

3. Aggressive dogs/cats

What is the most helpful book you’ve read and why?

James Herriott books – to remind me why I entered veterinary medicine.

Many thanks to Alexandra for sharing her story to inspire veterinary women to aspire and grow into their full career potential.

If you would like to share your story please get in touch at info@veterinarywoman.co.uk

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