The IndeVets Happy Hour is our bi-monthly podcast of clinical and not-so-clinical issues in vet med — best enjoyed with a beer in hand. The IndeVets Happy Hour is co-hosted by IndeVets Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marisa Brunetti and Chief Growth Officer Dr. Andrew Heller. Read more about why we started The IndeVets Happy Hour here — and tune in to all episodes here.
In episode 1, Drs. Andrew Heller and Marisa Brunetti welcome you to their new podcast where they discuss the every day issues that general practice veterinarians deal with, both clinical and not so clinical in nature. We hope you enjoy being part of the conversation!
DR. ANDREW HELLER: I want to welcome everybody to the first ever IndeVets podcast! My name is Andrew Heller and I’m here with my co-worker and co-host Marisa Brunetti. We are with a company called IndeVets — and most of you out there are probably listening to this as IndeVets, but if you’re not, we want to welcome you too.
I thought we’d start out just by telling you a little bit about our company and who we are so that you can understand where we’re coming from. IndeVets is a team of associate veterinarians and we’ve set out to professionalize relief staffing, and in many cases, even semi-permanent staffing for veterinary practices.
We’re made up currently of about 80 veterinarians, and we are currently helping almost 700 veterinary practices out there. We are located mainly on the east coast at this point. The states included are New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and recently we added Florida, Georgia, and coming soon to Massachusetts. Eventually we’ll be making our way across the country to all of the states, hopefully. Right, Marisa? [Note: see a current list of states here].
Dr. MARISA BRUNETTI: Hopefully. And where in Massachusetts, did you say?
DR. HELLER: In the Boston market.
DR. BRUNETTI: Excellent!
DR. HELLER: Good chicken, I hear.
DR. BRUNETTI: Yeah, I was gonna make that joke, but then I was like, “Does everyone get that?”
DR. HELLER: Let me introduce myself. I’m Andrew Heller, and I’m a veterinarian. I’m also the Chief Growth Officer at IndeVets. I specialize in general practice; I did do an internship, which set me off in the right direction. I learned a little bit about emergency medicine, all the major specialties, and I did pursue a general practice career.
I’ve been with IndeVets since Day One — actually Day Negative One — so I consider myself IndeVet #1 number.
DR. BRUNETTI: … the co-founder!
DR. HELLER: Yes, the co-founder. We’re here in Philadelphia now, but like I said, IndeVets is over the east coast.
Philadelphia is not where I’m from — I’m actually originally from Europe: born in London, raised in California in the San Francisco Bay area, went to college out in the midwest, moved to New York City, and then I went to vet school down in the Caribbean at Ross (which was amazing), before I came here to Penn. Then did my internship around here as well and stayed. What about you Marisa? Introduce yourself.
DR. BRUNETTI: Thanks Andrew, my colleague, my officer friend.
My name is Dr. Marisa Brunetti. I am originally from outside Philadelphia, so I’ve only left Pennsylvania for a few years: one time to go to Syracuse University for undergrad, where I studied journalism and public relations, before strangely heading to vet school at the University of Pennsylvania. So I did get to come home to West Philly, which I love.
I went directly into private general practice after my vet schooling. I’ve worked in Bucks County, PA; I’ve worked in Montgomery County, PA as a general practitioner; I’ve also done shelter work and high-volume spay neuter; and most recently, before I joined IndeVets, I worked as a Regional Medical Director for cool, new, up-and-coming corporation called Thrive Affordable Pet Care — they are awesomely our partners now, so we still get to be a part of that — and then I moved back from Texas.
And that’s when I found out what Michael [Raphael, IndeVets CEO] and Andrew were doing: this really cool company called IndeVets. I joined 6 months after you started, and I’ve been here ever since. I started in June of 2018, so I’ve been here 2 1/2 years and I am now currently the Chief Medical Officer. I still do practice usually about once a week in our different partner hospitals, just to keep my hand in things and and see what’s going on out there.
So really excited to do this podcast with Andrew! We used to have a podcast daily.
DR. HELLER: That’s true! We just didn’t record it.
DR. BRUNETTI: Yeah we just didn’t record it, but we our desks were back-to-back in our office, and now with Covid we haven’t been able to hang out with each other all day, and so this… I can really just launch into “what’s this podcast?,” you know, why are we doing this?
And I think, from my perspective, a couple of things: (1) we should have been recording all of our conversations since day one! We’ve seen a lot; we’ve done a lot; we know veterinarians really well; we know the industry really well in general practice, and we we have a lot of conversations… and so we think that vets would really benefit from from what we’re talking about.
We hope to to actually have a few different audiences: obviously my job is to take care of our veterinarians, and so veterinary medicine and clinical perspectives are really important to me. But also — work-balance, that unicorn that we talk about all the time as well as mental well-being, is really important to me as well. I think also our partner hospitals: we we have great relationships with them and we’ve learned a lot from them, and so I think a lot of people can benefit from the different topics that we’re going to talk about.
DR. HELLER: Thank you again for that intro. It’s true: you’re working out there, you know, every week and I sort of live vicariously through you in that way.
um come back i know i’m going to be going i’m going to be going back to clinical medicine soon so actually this is a really great way for me to keep learning about what’s out there what’s going on um you know it sort you might see some of the topics we talk about on this podcast that’s things that i’m just nervous about or anxious about that i want to learn better we have such an amazing group of doctors out there and i hope that we can use them as a source of information for this um you know i look up to them in a lot of ways i think that they uh we we hire really well we hire really great doctors and really proud of them um genuinely grateful one of our core values so you know hopefully this is just a chance for me to learn spread some basic knowledge as well um you know there’s hopefully if i’m wondering about something or if you’re wondering about a particular topic others are too yeah and i think what’s really cool is our team though we don’t work together in the same hospital we consider all of our vets associate vets because they are our employees and they work full or part-time for us and we also use teams which i know a lot of you out there are using teams or zoom or google hang and we’re all used to being virtual but what’s really great about our team is that they’ll bring up clinical issues we have a whole clinical channel right and so they’ll bring up things where i’m like huh that’s really interesting you know how how would you how would you educate an owner about this or what would you have done in this case and i think what we’d like to do on some of these podcasts is have some of our doctors on to talk about cases that they’ve had and you know how they ended up or how they worked them up or what they learned from them so i think we’re definitely pulling a lot of clinical stuff from our doctors as well yeah and you know um with 80 doctors you know they’re bound to be mistakes made here and there and um i think we can all learn from each other’s mistakes without having to make them ourselves and i think this might be actually a good venue and a good avenue to to spread that to our to our team yeah and just like hey guys like this issue came up you know let’s talk about this maybe let’s do a podcast on this particular issue and see if if everybody can learn from that you know learn from each other’s mistakes i think that’s one powerful uh thing about indie bets is that yeah we’re not all alone you know we’re not solo relief doctors we’re all part of this amazing company what’s been really great i’ve been a vet for 10 years i think i don’t think we even said you know how long we’ve been vets but i’ve been a vet for 10 years and i’ve seen a lot of change not only in the veterinary community but the community at large to to be vulnerable because it is so powerful and i think you talking about mistakes we’ve made is is really important because vets tend to be perfectionists they tend to be extremely hard on themselves and i think that’s that’s one of the reasons if we don’t talk about it and we’re in our own heads about it and that’s where the decreased mental well-being comes in and so i’m really really good at talking about all the things i’ve messed up well you know the one thing is there’s so many veterinary podcasts out there now like i didn’t realize it and i started looking into it like yeah there’s so many people doing these podcasts and it’s so funny because like they all come from a very like specialized point of view and i think you know what we’re doing here is we’re trying to be like the everyday like pragmatic veterinarian’s voice right and like i think we can i think we can can talk about things that we’re all dealing with on a daily basis not just like these high-end you know in the sky academic yeah the ivory tower which we love you ivory tower we really do i mean we want to keep this fun right yeah but interesting most that’s our general practitioners and i think we’ve always thrown that idea out there that like there’s no general practice internship you know there’s no association of general practice maybe there is actually we should look into that before we start saying things actually we should check we should we should make that if there’s no association of general small animal practitioners we should totally start that organization i mean we’re 80 doctors in i think yeah i think we can get it going yeah so so yeah i think being vulnerable about veterinary medicine and talking to people who have had issues whether that’s with clients or whether that’s with medical mistakes or whether that’s with their own work life balance or their struggles i think is really important um i want to normalize talking about mental health therapy um i’ve been in therapy i think it has helped me as a veterinarian and i know we’ve gotten off topic a little bit but we have so many goals for this podcast right and i think i think there’s so many different things that we could talk about that really aren’t clinical though we will cover clinical things yeah um there are there’s just so much out there i mean we write a blog too and i i can’t keep up with the journals and the webinars and the blogs there’s so much info so it’s like let’s just be real that’s true it’s true maybe you should keep it real keep it real keep it real yeah i mean i like certain clinical topics things that are that i wrote down you know that i think we can we can certainly talk about um you know you mentioned burnout and mental health i think that’s a huge thing i was thinking you know we’ve been talking about this for a long time but like a morbidity rounds like where we talk about a mistake that somebody made and talk about how to avoid that i know we’ve kind of alluded to that um new meds on the horizon right vet hacks like cool tricks and tips for for doctors um and even like job-related stuff right for people that aren’t an indie vet like just ways to broaden your horizons to find a unique way of working maybe maybe being an associate at one particular practice isn’t what isn’t for you and you know and there’s industry obviously there’s relief work there’s joining groups like ours um and we can talk a lot about that in the future maybe interview some of our own team and see what their journey was and i think people would find that interesting yeah or if you do want to be an associate how do you find a good practice like what are the questions that you should ask and what are the things that you should do to to figure out if this practice is right for you because we all know that there are practices out there that look great when you’re interviewing but they turn out not to be great so i think that that’s that’s really important we’ve worked in so many how many practices how many partner hospitals do we have we have almost 700 yeah we have a wealth of knowledge about what’s going on in general practice today whether it’s private or corporate medicine so right so i think those are all great things obviously clinical topics that we talk about vet hacks i love that we have a lot of doctors on our team that have great experience and so we’ll be bringing you some tips and tricks from them also controversial topics like what do you do with an asymptomatic lime positive dog versus you know what do you test for annually yeah um and we’ve seen a lot of different issues with that so i think we have a lot of info to talk about there because we ask a lot of these questions in our interview process and so we hear people’s answers like what are they doing and i think we we can have we have a pretty good sense i mean we’re not like keeping tabs we’re not writing a report on it or anything but i think we know i am and we do have it to compile we have all the data that’s true um also my dog’s head is on andrew’s lap right now i think she’s being like an emotional dog for you right now she has she licked my leg it’s like cold and wet now yeah sorry she’s starved for attention that’s not me or my brother so but yes thank you we are recording this podcast from my house yeah and we’re conshohocken pennsylvania right although andrew only lives 15 minutes from me so we’re still fairly close but our doctors are all over the place and i’m glad that we can speak directly to them thanks for joining us here today please subscribe to our podcast anywhere podcasts are found and if you have any questions or feedback that you would like to give us please just email me andrew indievets.com and again if you need any more information about indie vets please visit our website at www.indivets.com and follow us on instagram and facebook