ladysprite: (steampunk)
A client of mine wrote a beautiful piece about her experience with in-home euthanasia.  It's eloquent and heartbreaking and lovely and I can't say how grateful I am for her words, or her support.

And the blogging site she writes for decided to highlight it as one of their feature stories.

I am so lucky to have found the support I have in my new field....

https://www.thedodo.com/fog-cat-pass-away-peach-sister-1299716269.html

Milestones

Jun. 11th, 2015 09:15 pm
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Apologies to those of you seeing this plastered across multiple social media sites; sometimes you just gotta crow....

About a year ago, maybe a little more, I read an article about an emerging field in veterinary medicine, and how hospice care for animals was becoming A Thing.  And I thought to myself that if I could do anything in the world - if I had a million dollars and all the time and no obligations - that THAT was what I wanted to do with my life.  That it was the dream I never realized I had.  That, in my perfect world, I would open a hospice practice.

But I also figured that doing something like that would be impossible.  I'd need more money than I could pull together; I'd need to learn so much; I'd need so many resources that I could never manage to get; I'd never be able to afford to try.

Seven or eight months ago, I decided that I had to at least try.  I'd spent so much time daydreaming about it and joking about it and wishing for it, that if I didn't give it a go I'd never forgive myself.  So I started talking to other hospice vets, and to friends with MBAs and law degrees, and finding out exactly what would be involved.

About 3 months ago I opened my doors, metaphorically speaking, and started taking clients.

As of Close of Business today (so formal for 'when I finally drove home from my last house call of the day and opened Quickbooks to record my invoices) I have officially earned back my entire investment in Autumn Care & Crossings.  Every nickel I spent on incorporation and graphic artists and continuing education and web hosting and new work computer and medical equipment.  All earned back.  I have broken even.

I still have ongoing expenses - my therapy laser is lease-to-own; I need to replenish my drug supplies; I pay my crematory and lab monthly.  But from here on out, anything on top of that is profit instead of recovering losses.

In three months.

I have no idea how this happened, but damn is it awesome.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I realized that yesterday was the two-month anniversary of me seeing my first patient through Autumn Care & Crossings, and I figured I ought to take a little time to note how things have progressed since then.  It feels like it's been longer than that, and in a way it's hard to remember that I've only just started doing this.

I didn't know quite what to expect when I started my own practice - how long would it take to get clients?  How many would I get?  How much would I be able to earn?  I figured it would take a while to get rolling, but I didn't have a mental image of what that while would be.

At first, almost all of my calls were for euthanasias, and I was afraid that that would be all I wound up doing - another vet with a similar practice in Connecticut told me that, while she wanted to do more hospice, it was almost impossible for her to market to people.  But over the past few weeks, that's changed drastically.  I've got at least half a dozen hospice patients already, and I'm getting more and more calls.

I'm already earning enough through hospice that my business is self-sustaining - I can afford all of the supplies I need to continue practicing from the income from house calls.  Last week I earned more from house calls than I did from relief work, for the first time.

Most of all, I'm loving everything that I do.  This is every bit as deep and rewarding and powerful as I imagined it being.  I love going into people's homes and meeting them and their pets, and I love the depth of understanding I'm able to get from this different doctor-client-patient relationship.  I love knowing that I'm helping people as well as pets, in a challenging time.  And even the euthanasia-only patients are more powerful than I ever imagined - I'm able to make something difficult into a more loving and less traumatic event, and I feel like I'm part of a shared ritual instead of just a medical procedure.

I'm not done growing yet, by any stretch of the imagination.  But.... I am so incredibly glad and lucky that I decided to make this leap.  I can't wait to see where it grows from here....

Follow me!

May. 10th, 2015 11:29 am
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So the awesome (and far more tech-savvy than I am) <lj user="jducoeur"> has made an RSS feed for my hospice blog - if you're interested in what I write there, you can subscribe there.

http://autumnvet-blog.livejournal.com/profile

Slowly, this is becoming more and more real....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
In the middle of everything else, I'm still, y'know, starting a practice.  Appointments have calmed down a little after the initial flurry, but that just means I have more time to keep up with continuing education and to write for my hospice blog.

In particular, my most recent thoughts are about aging in animals, and how a lot of problems that are attributed to aging are often treatable conditions - check it out, if you want....

http://autumnvet.com/category/blog/
ladysprite: (steampunk)
It almost feels like that first client opened the door for things to start flowing in.  I'm not flooded with cases yet, but I've had three more appointments this week.  It's more than I had expected all at once, and it's reassuring to me that there is a call for what I do.

Mostly the cases I've seen have been euthanasias, but today's visit was for actual hospice care, and it looks like the approach I planned seems to work well.  We'll see what the client thinks, and how the patient responds, but.... I think this is a good fit.

Things I've learned so far:
-I will not get the easy euthanasias.  While I'm good at this, I'm also going to have to get used to bad or rough deaths, and people and animals that can be challenging to work with.

-Damn, but I was insulated from a lot of fiddly details as an associate.  There's a metric ton of paperwork and grunt work associated with practice that I just let other people do for me.  Drugs no longer magically show up in my cabinet, bodies don't get transported to the freezer by helpful elves, the crematory doesn't just intuit that I need a pickup, and records don't scan themselves into my computer.

-There will always be another piece of equipment that I need, no matter how well-supplied I feel like I am at any given moment.

-I am going to spend a lot of time looking at people's pictures of their pets.  (NB: I do not mind this at all.)

-Staples is the most awesome store on the planet.

I've hit a bit of a lull after the rush - though by 'lull' I mean 'I haven't had a call that resulted in someone scheduling an appointment since Tuesday' - but that just means I have a little time now to get back to spreading the word again.  I have more flyers to hand out at other clinics, soon I'll have a blog on my professional website to educate folks more about hospice, and at least now I have a little bit of a buffer to hold me until the next visit comes in.

And in the meantime.... it's nice to know I make a difference, and that my clients appreciate what I do.  My first client wrote this amazing memorial after my visit, and if I ever doubt my impact.... I'll just go and read it again.

http://autumnvet.com/memorials/
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I had my first official appointment for Autumn Care & Crossings today.  I guess that makes it real, now - I'm a business, with  clients, and income.

(Yes, I promptly spent that income to buy the last few items I need - a wheeled stretcher and a baby scale - but still.  It's a step in the right direction.)

All in all, it went surprisingly well and smoothly.  It helps that I've done house-call euthanasias before; just never as my own business.  As I get more experienced at this, I'm sure I'll streamline the process of getting charts prepared and invoices printed and my bag stocked and my controlled substances logged and the crematory contacted.  It's a wake-up call as to just how much of the business I was isolated from as an associate and a relief vet; I was used to always having someone else to handle most of the paperwork and the before and after details.  Still, it feels good to have a plan, and to know that that plan works.

And it was nice that the client wasn't a friend - it means that, slowly but surely, word is getting out about Autumn Care & Crossings.  I'm nowhere near self-supporting yet, and I don't expect to be for a long time, but it's still a good sign.

And most of all... it felt good to be helping.  I did something today that made a difference.  Because I started this business, I was able to make a difficult and painful situation better for people who were hurting and an animal who was suffering.

That's why I decided to do this.  And I'm glad to finally be on that path.
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I haven't updated here recently, mostly because my life has been silks and business, and for the last week or so I've been driving myself rather harshly trying to get Autumn Care & Crossings up and running.

I have a website (http://www.autumnvet.com in case you missed it!). And a phone line, and I'm all set up to take new clients.  The only problem?  I don't have any clients.

I've been working obnoxious hours trying to get the word out.  I've set up webmaster tools, and made a Yelp page, and sent out press releases to over a dozen local newspapers, and designed and printed brochures, and spent most of a week driving around handing out brochures and cards to clinics I've worked at in the past.  I've asked folks to spread the word (hey - if you're reading this?  Tell people I exist).

And now.... I wait.  And worry, and wait, and worry.

I know it's been less than two weeks.  I know these things take time.  But I also need income to pay my bills.  And... I've poured my heart and soul (and savings account) into this, and I'd hate to see it not just fail but never even start.

I'll get there.   Clients will come.  It'll just take a while.

I hope.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
All right, then. I've done all the stalling and busy-work and prep-work I can. It's time to actually *do* this thing.

Autumn Care & Crossings is live. I'm ready to start booking appointments. I'll be spending next week getting my inventory ordered, and I may not have the laser at the very start, but if I start booking now I'll be good to go by the time I have appointments lined up.

So. Here we go - now all I need are patients, and, to get those, people to spread the word.

http://autumnvet.com/

If you're local, please feel free to share it around - the more people who know about this, the better.... :)

Details

Feb. 10th, 2015 05:22 pm
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I've been taking advantage of the last few days' downtime by knuckling down and getting as many of the details for my new business taken care of as possible. The challenge is that, the more I do, the more teeny details I realize there are to do.

I have a phone line and number for the business now, and a mailing address (a PO Box; while I need an address for on prescription pads, I don't want clients necessarily knowing my home address). I spent yesterday doing several hours of continuing education on using therapeutic lasers, and today I met with a sales rep to start planning on how to buy and implement one.

I've called my professional liability insurance and car insurance to update them on my new status. I've set up an account with a pet crematory/cemetary, sent in the paperwork to start accounts at two different drug and supply companies, and scheduled a meeting with a third. I've set up my work laptop, started figuring out how to use Windows 8.1, and written my new client intake form.

I'm not done yet - I still need to get my business license and open a bank account; the latter has been stymied by my bank being closed for the past two days. I need to actually buy the laser, and the supplies and inventory. I need my finished logo, I need to set up an account with a medical lab, write up a patient history questionnaire, and figure out pricing.

When I think about everything I still have to do, I feel like I'm doing nothing and never going to finish. But when I write it out like this.... I've gotten a lot done, too....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
And to balance out my challenge of a morning....

I just the official piece of paper (okay, an emailed scan of the paper) signed by the Secretary of State.

Autumn Care & Crossings LLC, is now official. It's real, it exists. I'm incorporated, and ready to move forward.

I'm not ready to start seeing patients yet - there are still a handful of hoops I need to jump through - but I'm ready to get my business license, and bank account, and PO box and phone line and inventory, and set up official relationships with labs and other professionals. All things that I've been planning and prepping for. But most of all...

I have a business. This is real. It's finally here.

I am far more agitated and excited and freaked out than this written bit can ever express....

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