Sniffing Your Way to Better Hospital Experiences – Materials

2 - The Sniff Test

The Sniff Test

Let’s do one more quick exercise before we nose dive into this learning module. I’d like you to take an olfactory inventory of the different zones of your veterinary hospital. This can be an enlightening experience.

As you sniff your way around, try to organize your observations for the following areas:
  • The Animal Zone – Which includes kennel, grooming areas, dog wards and cat wards.
  • The Pet Owner Zone – Including the lobby & waiting area, bathroom, retail area and exam rooms.
  • The Staff Zone – Including the laboratory, laundry, conference room and pack/scrub and treatment areas.

For each of these areas, consider how your clients, your staff and your patients experience your hospital by simply using their sense of smell.

Start by sniffing your way over to the front counter of your hospital. Pay close attention to the smells as you navigate through the hospital and make note of the differences you encounter. Now, kneel down on the floor and take a good close sniff of the floor and walls at the level in which your patients experience your hospital. Did you notice anything? Did your clients think you were crazy? Or did you perhaps explain that you were doing some research as part of your continuing veterinary education? You probably noticed something new about your hospital. Was it fresh and clean? Or was it stale or worse yet, kind of stinky? Just imagine what your patients and clients experience when they step into your hospital. It could be overwhelming to their senses and stimulate their emotions and behaviors in both positive and negative manifestations. Remember, what you smell could be amplified by as much as 10,000 times for the scents picked up by your patients.

For the dogs who spend their first holiday away from home boarding at your hospital, what are the smells and sounds they experience? How many patients rotate through each exam room daily and how many different foot (and paw) prints mark the area around your front desk and lobby area? Imagine how many different odors and scents are introduced into the hospital environment every day. Understanding smell from your patient’s perspective can provide you important insights into how they experience your practice. In this learning module we will explore the form and function of the amazing olfactory sensory system in pets and provide suggestions for ways to implement hospital enhancing solutions that will surely heighten your patients’ and clients’ hospital experience.