At VetEvolve, our focus on making pets and their owners happy starts with the happiness of the individual doctors and staff we work with. That’s why Jessica DeCesare, CVPM, has transitioned from VP of Operations to Chief People Officer.
Why the Change in Title?
While the people in our organization will attest that DeCesare has been focused on the development and career growth of our veterinarians for quite some time, this title change only further emphasizes VetEvolve’s people-first philosophy. Jessica’s day-to-day will now be focused not only on supporting doctors within the organization, but also on finding the right doctors to join VetEvolve and creating custom onboarding plans for them. In this new role, she will open communication channels between vets and managers, clients, technicians, and more to ensure everyone on all sides is met with clear and consistent information and treated with empathy, support, and respect.
As evidenced by her Friend of the VVMA award, won earlier this year, Jessica excels at bolstering others’ contributions to veterinary medicine and appropriating the right resources to overcome the day-to-day challenges and alleviate any stress associated with practicing in the medical field. Our veterinarians across the network of VetEvolve practices will feel Jessica’s support now more than ever, helping them deal with the highs and lows that come with working in the veterinary industry.
See Jessica’s take on her new position and how it fits into the organization in this Q&A.
Q: So, Jessica, why are people so important to VetEvolve? Isn’t it all about the pets?
A: As an organization, our future is predicated on how we hire and retain good people, which is why we’re focusing on not only recruiting great people but retaining talent once we have them. Happier vets lead to happier pets, which is why having a point person to reach out and support our veterinarians’ goals, interests, and overall work-life balance will ultimately help our vets focus their energy on excellent care.
Q; How does VetEvolve do things differently for doctors?
A: Oftentimes in corporate consolidator-owned practices, veterinarians may be thrown into their work without much training or support, causing them to become easily overwhelmed. Further down the line, when vets need flexibility that supports their life as it changes, corporate consolidators will usually not be able to adapt their roles and schedules to keep them feeling fulfilled at work and help them to balance life better. At VetEvolve, we believe in creating customized, ongoing training and support plans for our vets that match their lifestyles and goals.
Personalized communication and growth plans are an extension of VetEvolve’s core belief in customized, not one-size-fits-all practice solutions. That’s why my new position will involve dedicating my attention to understanding what people need and making customized (not cookie-cutter) career plans that support their success — and, by proxy, ours.
Q: What does ‘Team’ mean at VetEvolve and how is it so important to how VetEvolve operates?
A: It’s essential for us to make sure that our veterinarians feel supported throughout their careers on both a human and professional level. Creating open communication and feedback loops within practices, encouraging doctors and staff to support each other, and structuring onboarding plans to include mentorship from long-time veterinarians are all ways we build our team.
We ask that our people listen to each other, understand and adapt to different communication styles and unique needs, and take a hands-on approach to their own training and growth as well as that of others. We know that our people are working in a tough, often stressful environment, and they know they can always reach out to our leadership or each other for a simple conversation, advice, or needed career support.
Q: How would you describe the culture?
A: I think our focus on people and our family atmosphere is truly the most notable part of VetEvolve’s overall culture. This is best evidenced by a few recent examples.
One of our emergency doctors recently felt inadequate because no matter how long or hard she worked, even with the practice growing at a rapid rate, the clinic still had to turn away patients. I initiated a courtesy call with her and we had a great conversation. I let our vet know how much we appreciated her and we worked on setting achievable goals for the practice. I empathized with her and we came to the understanding that she couldn’t physically be everything every single client needs at that rate of growth.
In another case, I received feedback that a young veterinarian was struggling in the first three to four months after starting. To put her on a better path for success, we talked one-to-one and I asked what she needed more of in terms of support. After hearing out her pain points, I decided to send her to visit another smaller VetEvolve clinic nearby to see if that environment would be a better fit. After her visit, the vet realized that a smaller practice better fit her skillset, so we got her transferred over. With an improved plan for onboarding and support at her new job, now this vet is thriving and continuing to grow.
Also recently, a long-time doctor contacted me to say she was considering resigning prior to treatment for stage three breast cancer. I advised her that stability and routine during treatment may be worth considering — based on having previously worked with a doctor in a similar situation who gave the feedback that working while dealing with cancer provided a welcomed distraction. After I conveyed how valuable this doctor was both in seeing patients and in mentorship, she expressed feeling supported and cared about, and worked with our team to have the right accommodations to keep a routine that can be flexible during treatment. And that’s support on the human side, not even on the professional side.
Q: What should someone expect if they join VetEvolve?
We’ve found that new veterinarians do well when they are mentored and have consistent check-ins from the start. Our concierge approach to onboarding lets young professionals receive consistent feedback from doctors on how they can manage their time and efforts in order to ensure their success. So our training really does focus on people first.
We try to help new doctors ease in slowly because if they move too fast, they can become overwhelmed or burned out, and it’s harder to pull back from that than to avoid it upfront. I work closely with our practice managers so we stay diligent and deliberate on how they approach onboarding and long-term scheduling to help vets be successful both personally and professionally.
Q: What about students and new grads?
Any student mentorship or internship placement starts with a conversation about what they’re interested in, allowing us to personalize mentorship programs. And if a student doesn’t know what they want yet, we help them gain experience to inform their career decisions, setting them up for post-graduation success. We might send undecided students to three different places for three different experiences to see what they enjoy — and then help them follow it in their career.
Our commitment to mentorship is evidenced by the number of students we’ve taken on over the years. I’ll often share an outline of what VetEvolve has done for another student to give new students a starting point, and to express that we expect to be held accountable to mentees in their mentorship program for truly providing the support and experience that they need to succeed.
Given the global circumstances, today’s students may feel uncertain or underprepared to tackle certain responsibilities due to limited clinical experience as a result of COVID-19 restrictions over the last 2 years. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a support system and successful mentorship program in place. To ensure individual success, prior to full-time onboarding, I ask where vets are most confident and where they’ll need the most support. From there, together, we create an individualized mentorship plan with the ability to personalize it as they progress through the beginning of their career.
VetEvolve Can Help You Focus on Growth
This new position reinforces our foundation noted by our core values — serve, evolve, commit, trust, create, and care. We’re always looking for great people to join VetEvolve. We emphasize putting people at the heart of everything we do, and if this sounds like a culture that is right for you, reach out to VetEvolve today.