I’m a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager and I’ve been doing this for more years than I care to admit. I’m knowledgeable in most of the well-managed practices, I promise. You want to talk about my ACT or have me list my ABC products? Let’s do it – but there’s one exception:

Hi, my name is Meghan and I’m a bottle shaker. I always have been and probably always will be. I know I shouldn’t be, but I can’t help it. For years now, at the very top of my to-do list, has been inventory. It mocks me and up until recently it’s been my dirty little secret — a flaw I’ve tried to hide.

One of my 2019 to-dos is to let the guilt go; I’m going to embrace being a bottle shaker. I suffer from Impostor Syndrome and I’m tired of it. I’m done with focusing on what the industry might deem a weakness and I’m ready to celebrate my successes.

But, to set the record straight, I’m a very capable bottle shaker. It’s not like we’re running out of things. It’s just the stigma of not having a structured inventory system that makes it seem like I don’t have my act together.

Here are my excuses: our software is notorious for being difficult with inventory, so right off the bat I don’t trust it. And I like knowing where things are. I like knowing what arrived and what is on backorder. I like the tactile reminder that it’s the holiday season and I need to stock up on GI meds. I like knowing that everything is in its place. I find peace in the process and that, my friends, is priceless. So here it is, and I’m going to shout it from the roof top: I’m a bottle shaker and that’s ok!

I envy people that can order once a month. It seems like such a novel concept. Or what about those people that order through their software system. Those people are modern-day miracles.

Trust me, I know how inventory works. I know why a streamlined inventory system is so important. And yet I continue to shake bottles. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried ABC lists and I’ve done reorder cards. I’ve gone to CE and I’ve even brought “Inventory Gurus” into the clinic.

But here’s what I’ve come to understand over the last few years: do what works for you, do what works for your clinic. Knowing how to do something correctly and doing it well isn’t always the same thing; and doing something “correctly” may not be the best fit for your clinic but knowing that is half the battle. I’d rather have the knowledge of how do to something correctly and do it my way than try to force an industry standard to work at my clinic.

I actually find peace coming in early and going through inventory. I update prices, make sure everything from my last orders have arrived and been stocked properly. Within 15 minutes I know what we need, how much we need and I have an idea of what’s going on in the clinic. It’s a system that works for me and it’s a system that works for my clinic.

Admitting I know I’m not doing something the “right way” is freeing. I’m no longer embarrassed by it because I know I’m doing inventory proficiently. It no longer looms over my head as something I can’t seem to accomplish or that I’m failing at. And taking this daunting task off my list freed up a spot for something I could accomplish, like becoming the first Fear Free Certified Clinic in Texas.

As the new year approaches, I encourage you to accept the things you can’t (or don’t want to) change. Think about how much you can get done when you’re doing something you want to be doing instead of something you think you should be doing. Industry standards don’t have to define your successes.

No one knows your clinic better than you. It’s time we embrace our knowledge and embrace our uniqueness and be proud of our daily accomplishments instead of comparing ourselves to the clinic down the street or the ones we see online.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.


Meghan S. Bingham, CVPM, is the practice manager at West Alabama Animal Clinic, a 10-doctor small animal clinic in Houston. She has worked at the clinic for more than 20 years and jokes that she’s held every position except veterinarian! Meghan earned here CVPM certification in 2017, was elected Veterinary Hospital Managers Association Emerging Leader and is currently up for DVM 360’s Practice Manager of the Year. Meghan is passionate about hip-hop dancing with her five-year old son, taking naps and French fries – in that order!