Can you hear that? That music? Suspenseful, unforgettable…the theme music from the movie Jaws from when the shark is sneaking up on you…
I hear it anyways, it’s the sound of another AAHA evaluation coming up (we get evaluated every 3 years, and have been certified since the practice opened in 1994). It’s not happening for a good year, but we are a hospital of type-A nerds who want to do well on the test, so we start early with the studying and getting ready.
AAHA is the only organization that accredits animal hospitals in the US and Canada (I lifted that statement from their website). They are sort of like ISO Certification for animal hospitals.
They have a list of over 800 standards that vet hospitals have to meet in order to bear the label “AAHA Certified”. It’s 100% voluntary.
So AAHA certification is about the only objective way out there to ensure that a hospital is a good one just by what you see on the web or on paper (as opposed to going in there and checking the place out and talking to clients). In order to meet all their stringent standards, you (as an animal hospital) need to be doing a pretty decent job with the many things they judge you on.
AAHA doesn’t judge just on simple stuff like…I dunno…”feeds patients and keep them clean”. They are highly anal-retentive and want to make sure you have enough modern equipment, facilities, super-attentive patient care, highly educated and skilled vets, great client service, advanced diagnostic capabilities, etc.
The high inquisitor (I am currently reading the 5th Harry Potter book to my son, so I’ve been reading about Dolores Umbridge, the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts)…who, incidentally had a personality similar to said Ms. Umbridge (but you didn’t hear that from me), spent the whole day at AMCOP last time we were inspected. She all but put on the white gloves.
We passed though, earning our right to keep our “AAHA Certified” status for another three years.
Now, there are plenty of excellent hospitals out there that are not AAHA certified, but at least certification gives you, Joe Public, a way to easily assess the quality of a potential new vet.
So anyhow, I just printed our list of those many, many standards and will set about going through our hospital with a fine-toothed comb to make sure we are up to snuff.
A year in advance.
Ask any of my vet school classmates…I’ve always been a nerd.
But we all know the truth: all vets are nerds (just some more than others)