VCA Next


The Top Ideas From Round 2 Have Been Chosen for the VCA NEXT Championship:

Over the past month, approximately 60 VCA employees who made it to Round 2 presented their ideas live to local leadership across the United States and Canada. All of the judges were impressed by our VCA employees’ creative ideas, and the top idea from each region, along with three additional wild cards, were selected as our top 12. In June, these 12 VCA employees will be flown to Los Angeles, where they will present their ideas to top doctors, executives, and VCA’s founders for a chance to be crowned the winner of VCA NEXT 2017.

PAWSITIVE Attitude and Well-Being Support

Dr. Robert Lawrie

Medical Director | VCA Old Marple Animal Hospital
1st place

PAWS for a moment and consider what are two of the biggest problems facing VCA and the veterinary industry? 1) Mental health/compassion fatigue, and 2) New-graduate turnover. The PAWS initiative is the proactive solution. Employee well-being and mental health issues are often overlooked or ignored due to societal taboos and embarrassment. Compassion fatigue is rife within the profession, and the resultant employee turnover is both distressing and costly.

PAWS is a company-wide initiative to provide basic well-being and mental health support through online and in-person training to identify those most at risk of compassion fatigue and to provide the resources and support to help them stay in the profession. It would teach basic coping strategies to all veterinary staff and create an opportunity for those most at risk to reach out and seek anonymous help and guidance. The PAWS symposium would be a yearly VCA conference organized for graduates with less than 2 years in practice. It would provide practical training and support to help them cope with the stress of their daily roles, and by bringing them together with their peers, they will build a sense of camaraderie that makes them feel Valued, Connected, and Affirmed. The conference would afford the recruiting and HR teams the opportunity to discuss how the graduates are coping and learn what is necessary to retain employees in the current climate. It could identify problems with certain hospital cultures that could in turn be used to improve doctor and technician retention. PAWS is key to a healthier future.

Doggy Influencer

Julie Turner

VP Marketing | Camp Bow Wow
1st place

Social media plays a huge role in building brand awareness, influencing purchase decisions, and driving brand engagement. In today’s digital world, word-of-mouth extends beyond just friends and family and into the realm of influencer marketing. Influencers on social media rival friends in building user trust. While 56% of social media users rely on recommendations from friends, 49% rely on recommendations from influencers. Instead of hiring an influencer, what if we created one? The idea is to host a contest to become VCA’s “spokesdog.” VCA would create and own the social media accounts, but give creative control to the winner. The prize is a one year contract for $50,000, all pet care services, and all expenses to execute campaigns. The total cost would be ~$100,000.

To apply, a user must submit high-quality pictures, sample posts for each platform, and a video explaining why their dog would be the best spokesdog and why they have potential to be an influencer. The contest would create a lot of user generated content that could be used for marketing purposes, and it’s likely to receive national media coverage. The media value of one national TV segment would be greater than the cost of the entire campaign. The on-going value of the influencer campaign shouldn’t be ignored. Influencer campaigns receive $6.85 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media. That’s great ROI!

This campaign leverages our loyal customers, brings national awareness to VCA brands, and extends the reach of our social presence while building trust.

VCA – The Leader in Launching Credentialed Technicians

Heather Andrews

Referral Advocate | VCA Animal Specialty Group
3rd place

Our profession is starving for Credentialed Technicians. Credentialing can be daunting, and VCA could be the wind beneath the wings of these candidates! Leading the nation in DVM training is underway. Instituting a VTNE Review Program is the NEXT step in VCA's leadership in the veterinary industry. The groundwork is done, the curriculum in place, and the survey says … VCA Specialty Hospitals Tech Managers are on-board with the program! It is the ultimate win-win for VCA!

Currently, VCA offers a referral bonus of $750 for one Credentialed Technician. For close to the same money, VCA can assist 60 or more Technicians in their credentialing process over one year! The VCA organization wins, the entire veterinary community wins, the newly Credentialed Technician wins, the VCA specialty hospital wins, the clients win, and the patients win. The only one who doesn't win … the Atlanta Falcons.

VCA is nationally recognized as a leader in raising the bar in veterinary medicine. Credentialed Technicians are the ones holding up the bar. The VCA VTNE Review Program is the NEXT BIG THING.

PAWtners in the Fight

Dr. Alison Book

Medical Oncologist | VCA Aurora Animal Hospital
4th place

No child should feel alone in his or her fight against illness. No family should feel alone in their fight for a beloved pet. PAWtners in the Fight is a special outreach program connecting children undergoing treatment for a serious illness with companion pets suffering from a similar problem. Offered in children's hospitals nationwide, it would grant children the opportunity to have a VCA patient "pen-pal" with whom they could exchange letters and pictures, giving support to each other during difficult medical journeys. The pets would write back through the vessels of their veterinarian, nurses and family. A special online training program would be developed for employees wishing to participate, helping them to choose appropriate patients and write positive and encouraging letters at an appropriate level for a child. Parental permission and a waiver would be obtained from families. There would be a plan in place to minimize instances in which, but also protect the child, if a pet passed away during the time the child was undergoing therapy.

We all know the tremendous health benefits of a strong relationship with an adored pet, both for people and animals. Pet owners love to feel that their family member has made a future difference through their health struggles. Veterinary professionals are increasingly suffering from mental health issues and need a way to feel the positive emotional impact of the everyday good that they do. The world needs more kindness. VCA has the reach and people power to make a huge difference.

Right Pet, Right Treatment, Every Time

Cynthia Pearson

Practice Manager | Kelley Animal Hospital PC (CAPNA)
5th place

What if we could be as precise with our animal care as we are with our product inventory? We can with barcoded ID neckbands. At check-in, every patient dropped off would be assigned a neck band and scanned into the software with a handheld unit like the "Symbol" used in many businesses like CVS to account for inventory. Ideally, when you assign the neckband to the patient, the software would upload information, such as vaccine/drug allergies and other pertinent information. You could create menu options such as: surgery, treatments, vaccinations and services, and census.

Anytime the a patient is brought up for vaccines, surgeries, or treatments, the Tech or Doctor would scan the ID band to make sure they have the correct patient, are alerted to any allergies, and are performing the correct treatment. Once the treatment is performed, the scanner would alert someone if they try to scan the same patient in for the same treatment so it cannot be repeated. The Tech would scan each pet before administering medications to boarders or hospital patients. The kennel would scan every patient at the end of every day to perform the census, and the Receptionist would scan the neck band to check the patient out of the hospital. These practices ensure all pets are treated and accounted for properly, so you have the right pet and the right treatment every time with the click of a button.

Pet Passport, Microchip and Virtual Passport Identification and Medical Record Retrieval

Dr. Ken Langelier

Medical Director | Island Veterinary Hospital

In a triad of products: 1) VCA ISO microchips, 2) VCA Virtual Passports, and 3) VCA International Passports, the family of VCA hospitals can provide branding and added value to their patients, thereby enhancing loyalty with easy pet identification, documentation and medical record retrieval. What better repeat branding than pet identification, medical record retrieval and health passports?

VCA Pet ISO Microchips can be scanned, and the reading goes directly into WOOFware to pull up the patient’s file. Although manufactured for VCA, they are ISO chips and can be read by any microchip reader. Any VCA hospital can retrieve information about who the pet’s caregiver is, should a lost or injured pet be presented to them. Other agencies and veterinary hospitals can also scan the microchips, and will direct them to a VCA hospital for returning the pet home.

The VCA Virtual Pet Passport App stores the microchip number as a barcode to identify each pet. The app displays the microchip barcode that can be scanned into WOOFware for medical record retrieval.

VCA International Pet Passports have a barcode of the microchip inside and can be scanned into WOOFware to pull up the pet’s file. These official documents are produced by VCA with the appropriate VCA USA or VCA Canada logo identifying country of origin. The vaccine stickers and signed, dated information inside provides the pet caregivers with the documentation they need to produce for border security, kennels, and other types of scenarios.

CSR and CareClub Regional Coordinator/Trainer

Cassandra Peirano

Hospital Manager | VCA Madera Pet Hospital

The CSR position is often overlooked and undervalued. This role is actually one of the most important positions in our hospitals. Our CSR teams are the first faces and last faces of every visit. They are tasked with everything from being experts on prevention products to understanding the basics of veterinary medicine. A strong CSR team can make the difference in a healthy practice. This position is often filled with people who may not have a great deal of experience in veterinary medicine, if any at all. With all of these expectations, why wouldn't we have a regional person/team in charge of making sure every CSR is set up to be strong and successful?

This team would be able to travel to different hospitals in their area to help support the leadership team in training new team members or even be available to help train up existing team members who may need a little extra help. This position could also host regional trainings for team members and leadership teams to help identify issues that are prevalent in the field or new initiatives. There are so many possibilities for this position and the value is immense. Having strong CSRs with an understanding of the industry is a huge benefit for hospitals. Why not take it a step further? We could also have the same idea for VCA CareClub support. Having a regional CareClub Coordinator could really help to ensure that CareClub is being utilized well and consistently. Think about it!

Voice Activated Artificial Intelligence Inventory

Stan Smith

Operations Manager | VCA Mueller Pet Medical Center and Pet Inn

A great solution for any veterinary hospital is higher efficiency, allowing staff to focus more time on the pets and exceptional client service. Artificial intelligence can help us achieve these solutions. Artificial intelligence or AIs are agents similar to Alexa in an overall concept, but they differ in performance. These agents are designed to interact with us and/or our clients. Their job is to “Automate the Repetition.” This means they could do things such as document SOAPS in exam rooms, calculate drug injections, remove stock items from inventory, run analysis reports, communicate updates to our clients, or basically anything that we find repetitive and remedial.In some cases, an agent can even surpass our abilities. For example, they can provide an emergency drug calculation before you even locate your emergency drug chart. This technology has boundless opportunities and can grow alongside our company. In this day and age, staying ahead of technology is a must. Instead of catching up with technology, let’s be innovators!


Ibrahim (Abe) Al-Murjan

Mobility | Support Office

It's a common fact that we strive to remain connected wherever we go. We have all been there, getting ready to capture that perfect shot, video, or snap only to find that our smartphone is on its last leg. “No! My phone is about to die!” Face it, who has a charger in the middle of hike, or by a tree in the park, and does anyone wants to lug around a spare charging unit? It makes us look desperate.

ChargeLeash provides that reprieve and more! By incorporating flexible solar panel lining into a flat leash or retractable unit, we can easily provide the opportunity to recharge your smartphone before it’s too late. Solar charging options are abundant in today’s market, making it the perfect opportunity to seize this technology and incorporate it to one of our favorite pastime with our extended family. More so, by lining the leash with energy efficient LED lights, we can provide a sense of safety/security to late night walkers.

Virtual Interactive Surgery

Dr. Craig Martin

DVM | Liberty Animal Hospital PC (CAPNA)

I have a neighbor, Drew Deaton, who worked with another friend of mine, Brent Ponce (an orthopedic surgeon), and together they developed VIPAAR, a virtual interactive presence device that can allow a surgeon (or any other person) to help another surgeon anywhere in the world in real-time through an online overlay device on a computer or laptop. I think it would be a great training tool with many applications.

Here are a couple of links that help to explain the product better than I can:

Bandages: Keeping it clean or time for a change?

Joyce Rene Wells

Co Hospital Manager | VCA Woodbridge Animal Hospital and Critical Care Clinic

How many times have patients with bandages placed returned for a follow-up visit and the bandages have been smelly, wet next to the skin, or absolutely soaking wet and dripping water (or urine)? Prevent urine scald, secondary skin infections, and always know when your pet's bandage has become wet by utilizing the same technology used with infants and toddlers - create bandage materials that can notify clients that the bandage is wet and needs to be changed! Cast padding could be impregnated with the ability to change color when they become moist, or outer materials (vet-wrap for example) could either change color or have an image or phrase appear when it becomes wet to alert the pet owner that there is an issue with the bandage and that proper healing is compromised.

How many times has a dog soiled his own bandage when going outside to eliminate? How many times has a cat dunked his bandaged foot into a water bowl? How many times were the initial issues compounded by urine scald or skin infections because the bandages remained in place for days in that condition? If there had been some sort of external indicator present, these issues could have been prevented, and everyone involved would have had a more pleasant experience.

Pawsome Packages

Kara Auriema

CVT, Tech Supervisor | Bayview Animal Hospital

How awesome would it be to receive a personalized, species-specific "Paw-some Package" to your beloved fur-baby once a month? It would incorporate Never Forget, Hills/RCVD/Purina nutrition recommendations and treats, chronic medications, preventative care, supplements, Veterinarian-approved toys, dental care, coupons/brochures/rebates, VCA branded bandanas/water bottles/food bowls, and more. The possibilities are endless!

It is an all-in-one package that covers preventative care, wellness, and fun! The packages would be divided by species and age groups, such as Junior, Adult and Senior. The packages would be ordered through Home Delivery and shipped automatically every 30 days.

Next step

Over the next few weeks, each of these employees will partake in presentation prep and mentoring sessions as they prepare to present their ideas in front of local leadership.


Thank you to our VCA NEXT 2017 Judges who read and scored every idea submitted by our VCA employees. All judges were only given the Idea Name and Description provided by you. Their job was difficult and were amazed by the unique and creative ideas that came from our own VCA Teammates!

Stefan Horsky
Canada: VCA Canada
Daryl Verbeek
Canada: VCA Canada
Robert Pakai
Canada: VCA Canada
Tracy Heyland
Canada: ROD in VCA Canada and VCA NEXT 2016 Finalists
David Ridgey
Northwest: GVP Northwest, Northern California & Hawaii
Joey Mistler
Northwest: RVP
Leilani Way
Northwest: MD at VCA Alameda East
Dr. Bob Doak
Southwest: GVP Southwest
Sandra Seamans
Southwest: Sr. VP, COO - CAPNA
Elliot Fields
Southwest: ROD
Dan Paxman
Southwest: ROD
David Ridgey
Northern California & Hawaii: GVP Northwest, Northern California & Hawaii
Diana Duncan
Northern California & Hawaii: ROD
Dr. Nancy Rinkardt
Northern California & Hawaii: RMD
Cameron Eastin
Northern California & Hawaii: ROD
Dr. Kari Moore
Northern California & Hawaii: RMD
Kaitlyn King
Northern California & Hawaii: Area Manager and VCA NEXT 2016 Finalists
Dr. Andrew Triolo
Southern California: GVP Southern California
Phillip Christian
Southern California: ROD
Brandon Matsui
Southern California: LMM
Dr. Todd Lavender
Southeast: GVP Southeast
Sue Black
Southeast: ROD
Todd Hazay
Southeast: ROD
Jennifer Scott
Southeast: LMM
Dr. Mike Barnett
Mid-Atlantic: GVP Mid Atlantic
Lisa Hewlett
Mid-Atlantic: ROD
Angela Perez
Mid-Atlantic: LMM
Dr. Larry Cohen
Northeast: GVP Northeast
Monica Dunn
Northeast: HM at Manhattan Veterinary Group
Dr. Joyce Wagner
Northeast: MD at Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center
Joshua Jasper
Northeast: Area Manager
Erika Ervin
Northeast: Area Manager and VCA NEXT 2016 Finalists
Garrett Lewis
Central: GVP Central
Keri Horn
Central: ROD
Dr. Anthony Guerino
Central: RMD
Sarajenie Smith
Central: LMM
Lorrie Nimsgern
Central: ROD
Ellen Wullbrandt
Central: RPRD


Your next opportunity to participate in the annual VCA NEXT program will take place in 2018, so start brainstorming now!

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