Several weeks ago I presented you with the challenge of tackling the elephant in the room for inventory management and asked if you would take a quick survey on what frustrates you. The results are STAGGERING, to say the least. 95% of you (out of 63) told me that your position as an inventory isn’t respected, and you are not given dedicated time to managing inventory. That is not only frustrating but shocking to me! I’ve noticed an interesting trend where either the inventory manager or paraprofessional is dedicating so much effort to improve profitability and efficiency with inventory, only to be met with resistance from hospital administration. Or, on the flip side, hospital owners that truly believe and see the value of managing inventory and how it affects success, patient care, and team morale. In this open letter to your hospital administrator, I’m going to discuss the former… we’ll get to the latter soon. Feel free to pass this along to your hospital owners, practice managers, or other administrators. What do you think about this? I want to know… leave a comment below, or feel free to contact me directly!

If you are interested in taking the super short survey, click this link. All results are anonymous and kept private with me; only general information will be shared.

Dear Hospital Administrator/Manager/Owner,

Thank you for allowing me to take a moment of your time to read this letter. Recently, I polled an audience of 63 and a very large number (95%) of paraprofessionals do not feel like their role as an inventory manager is respected. I wanted to take a moment to speak to that. Inventory management is the second highest expense in every practice, although if you aren’t careful, it can become the first highest! Even for a well-managed practice, inventory costs hover around 20%. That is a huge number, and if left unchecked can quickly eat away at your profits. For example, let’s say your practice has a annual revenue of $3,000,000.00, and if your costs are 10% higher than they should, that equates to $300,000.00 of missed opportunity for profit! What could you do with an extra $300,000 in revenue?

You can easily see how quickly costs might add up for mismanaged inventory. Now, let’s talk about WHY inventory management is important. First and foremost, you cannot appropriately treat and care for your patients without it. An adequately stocked hospital is critical to your hospital’s success and achieving the high level of care that your patients deserve. Although it might not seem like an important task because the inventory manager is not directly caring for a patient, it might not be as helpful as holding for a blood draw or assisting with an aggressive patient. But, when that inventory manager is performing her inventory duties, she is, in essence, caring for every patient in your hospital by providing the tools, supplies, and medications to provide the highest level of quality care.

It is critical that her role as an inventory manager is respected, and given the dedicated time she needs and deserves. We know that you became a veterinarian for a multitude of different reasons; most likely to help, treat, and care for your patients. Let your inventory manager assist you with that. I talk with many paraprofessionals on a daily basis that are spending energy, time, and resources to improve YOUR hospital. Their desire to improve something so critical to your success is commendable. If your inventory manager has ways and ideas on how to improve the profitability, efficiency, and clarity; listen. Let them help; and be an encourager of their initiative and passion. Their role as an inventory manager can be very stressful. Think about the backorders that happen on a daily basis, the opioid shortage, and other factors that drive us crazy but we have no control over. Think back to the last time you thanked them for having the appropriate supplies in stock, or for spending tireless hours counting pills, unpacking boxes, slinging bags of dog food to ensure the success of YOUR hospital?

I say this all out of respect and maybe a bit of tough love because I want you to succeed. I want your practice to be as wildly successful as you want it to be. But, if 95% of inventory managers don’t feel respected, that can quickly lead to burnout or compassion fatigue, or even mental illness. If you have an inventory manager that is willing to put in the time, energy, and dedication to be a leader for your hospital- help them, respect them, and understand that she only wants to help you and your practice.


Nicole Clausen