Dr. Kathleen Deckard DVM, is a tenured Veterinarian of 24 years in practice. She has built her career on a foundation of high quality pet medicine, with a special focus on patient care and owner education. Her practice, Pets R Family Veterinary Hospital is designed and operated with these key areas of focus in mind. But it doesn’t stop there. The “Added Value” efforts of Dr. Deckard are pathway drivers in our industry, as she endeavors to influence and propagate the same quality medical focus in the lives of others aspiring to be in our industry, as she provides for her patients.
In 2014, Dr. Deckard began to lay the plans for a new state of the art medical practice to be built just a few miles from her home here in Saint Johns County. Dr. Deckard’s dream was that this new facility would be second to none in focus on the total client experience and quality pet medicine. The design was created with pets’ and owners comfort in mind. Her practice focuses on small animals and exotics. There are two lobbies, one for the Hospital medically focused clients, and one with a focus on the services offered such as boarding, grooming, Pups N Play daycare, and spa bathing. The Hospital features a spacious lobby, offering a canine and a feline waiting area with ample seating for up to 20 clients and their pets.
The 7 exam rooms feature 2 large dog rooms with lift tables and extra space, and a feline only exam room, which is part of the Gold Standard Feline Certification awarded Pets R Family by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
The hospital lobby is accompanied by a large half round customer service desk, and a separate “Pharmacy Pick Up” desk, offering our 4 person customer service team the ability to meet, greet and assist clients and their wonderful pets.Meanwhile on the Boarding side, an additional lobby with three customer service team members are greeting and caring for the service focused pets coming to our facility.
As the design moves to the Hospital Treatment area, the twenty-five person hospital technician team is organized by position. The pharmacy is staffed by 2 full time pharmacy technicians, the lab is managed by a lead lab technician, while each DVM has assigned to them two room technicians for the day, to meet with all clients and manage all treatments. PRF has dedicated drop off technicians focused on those pets left with the practice for the day, who need treatments and work ups.
Our Hospital technicians manage as “traffic controllers” for all details coming and going through the hospital, including all medical pre and post surgery, as well as medical boarders. Dr. Deckard’s two, on-duty, hospital managers are focused on all client contacts, surgery focused details and DVM and hospital team needs. There is a dedicated surgery team of technicians, who are focussed specifically on our two surgical suites, and the CT Scan room to allow our daily surgery DVM to remain with a dedicated team for all surgeries, dentals, CT Scans, Fluoroscopy scans, ultrasounds, and other surgery focused procedures. This Hospital positional design is unique to Pets R Family, and is one with proven results, as designed by Dr. Deckard.
When setting a plan for her DVM Team, Dr. Deckard wanted to ensure two key elements. First, she wanted to have a team in place to focus on patient care, while being very involved in client education. Secondly, she wanted to allow a congruent level of DVM care, that allowed clients to have limited need for “my favorite Doctor”, as they are supplied with the same high level of medical care across the team. Dr. Deckard works diligently to keep all of her Team up to date and on the same page when it comes to all medical protocols, products to be used, most effective drugs and treatments, and client and patient care techniques. Our medical DVM leaders at PRF are constantly on the leading edge of the most up to date medical treatments, drugs and procedures available in the industry.
The amazing passion of Dr. Kathleen Deckard is not only for high quality pet medicine and the client experience. She also recognizes the real need for her industry that is in a very high DVM attrition rate, with a huge influx of new pet owners. Dr. Deckard has always had a strong desire to share with others the opportunity that this industry brings in career. She has designed a program specific to Pets R Family called “Vets N Training”. This program is for young students, ages 6-12, who have a desire to see what it is like to work in the Veterinary Industry. The classes take place every Tuesday after school at the PRF practice. Classes vary from “Bandaging and First Aid” to “Parasites and Vaccines”, but all curriculum is written and designed by Dr. Deckard and her daughter, Abigail Deckard. The goal of this teaching of young students is to grow the desire and understanding of the industry for application in studies and focus as the students move toward High School and College course structure. To date, Vets N Training has taught and guided hundreds of students through the program.
The school system in Saint Johns County is known for it’s leading edge “Academy” focus at the High School level. In addition to many other professional focused academies, the newest academy to have opened just a few years ago, is the Academy of Veterinary Medicine at Beachside High School, which is the only Veterinary focused Academy in the country. Dr. Deckard was instrumental in lobbying for this Academy to begin while still in the ideation stages. She now serves on the academy’s Board of Directors as a voting member and supporting curriculum professional. In addition, Dr. Deckard has hired several of the Academies students to begin their industry work at Pets R Family, and has approved many other interning students who are beginning their hands on experience in the industry where they hope to dedicate their careers. Certainly training, guiding and directing this age group will be a catalyst to feeding undergrad and postgrad focus in the veterinary field of study.
Dr. Deckard recognized that there are many outside the veterinary industry who have the desire, drive and passion to work in it, but have never had the opportunity to submerse themselves into a veterinary practice setting. Our military branches are full of individuals who have served their country for a number of years, and are then preparing to leave that career and move into civilian life. Dr. Deckard was instrumental in approving and managing the ramp up of the “SkillBridge” program with the United States Military, at our practice. Pets R Family is the first and currently the only Veterinary Practice approved by all branches of the Military to administer training to personnel preparing to retire from their military service and enter a professional position in the field of veterinary medicine. Pets R Family was approved by the US Military branches in 2022, and has 4 current military members actively being trained at the PRF Practice, with 4 prior graduates completing the approved training program. Each candidate receives an interview at the conclusion of their training to potentially be hired to become a full-time employee at Pets R Family as their first position in the industry. Dr. Deckard is involved day to day with the training protocols, scheduling and ongoing medical input for these candidates.She has stated that these are some of the most passionate, determined and results driven people she has ever had the opportunity to work alongside.
Dr. Deckard has not only had an amazing impact on her local community with her passionate focus on quality pet medicine and client care, but she has also continued to focus on the future of the veterinary industry. Her desire to see professionals trained and prepared for a career in the field she has loved for over 24 years, has led her to design pathways for entry, and impact those with interest. Dr. Kathleen Deckard is an innovator in an industry built on new ideas, with a fresh outlook on bringing dedicated professionals to it.
St. Johns Magazine