Fear Free Practice Certification

Taking Fear Free to the Next Level – Fear Free Practice Certification

Practice Certification takes Fear Free implementation to the next level – from an individual to a joint effort that requires the entire practice team to work together to safeguard the emotional wellbeing of their patients, clients and team members. Fear Free Certified® Practices will represent the pinnacle of care in the industry and will be highly sought-after by pet owners who are realizing the importance of emotional wellness for their pets.

Certified Practices will have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business. To meet this level of commitment and implementation, practices must measure up to the Fear Free Practice Certification Standards. Mandatory standards are pass/fail; optional standards are weighted, and the practice must achieve a minimum score to pass each category. Once a practice has successfully completed their online self-assessment of the standards, an onsite visit will be scheduled with a Fear Free Practice Certification Veterinarian. The results will be submitted to Fear Free for review and final determination of pass or fail.

Find out more about certifying your practice below!

Note: At this time, Practice Certification is available only in the US and Canada. We encourage our international professionals to seek individual certification and keep their certification status active by renewing and continuing to take advantage of our ongoing CE offerings.

Note: Only Group Leaders have access to the Practice Certification process.

Step 1: Apply

After logging in to your account, access the Practice Certification Application by navigating to Veterinary Professionals > About > Practice Certification. Verify your pre-populated information and download the .csv file. Enter your entire employee roster into the .csv file, noting the instructions at the top left. When completed, upload the file, acknowledge the Terms & Conditions, and submit. Your application will be reviewed by Fear Free within 2 business days and you will be notified via email of its acceptance or if any changes are needed.

Step 2: Register

When your application is accepted, you will receive an email with a link to register for Practice Certification. When you register, you will pay the $500 deposit that will be applied to your total Practice Certification cost. Registering gives you access to the online self-assessment via the Practice Certification Dashboard.

Practices will have a 90-day grace period between the time of registration and the submission of the online self-assessment (Step 3) in that, if during those 90 days any of the 25% of certified staff’s membership(s) required to be eligible for Practice Certification expire, it will not affect the eligibility for Practice Certification. Additionally, if any of the aforementioned 25% staff have left the practice, they do not need to be replaced by another certified and active team member.

If a practice submits a self-assessment more than 90 days after registering and any of the aforementioned 25% of certified staff’s membership(s) have expired, the membership(s) must be renewed. Additionally, if any of the aforementioned 25% staff have left the practice, they must be replaced by another certified and active team member.

Step 3: Online Self-Assessment

The Dashboard houses the standards and supporting examples for practice certification. When you have completed your self-assessment, as indicated by your progress bars turning green, submit it for review.

Step 4: Review of Self-Assessment

Fear Free will review your self-assessment within 3 business days. You will be notified if any clarifications need to be made via email and a call with the Practice Certification Manager will be scheduled. Self-assessments must be approved by Fear Free before an onsite visit can be scheduled.

Step 5: Onsite Visit

On the first Friday after your self-assessment has been approved, you will receive email notification with at least 3 days to choose from to schedule your onsite visit. At least 1 date offered will be within a 60-day window.  You have until the following Tuesday to select a date. You will receive a call from your Practice Certification Veterinarian (PCV) within 7 business days following your selection. The visit should take 2-4 hours.

Your PCV will need someone to accompany him/her throughout the visit, observe at least 2 patient visits, review at least 3 patient medical records, and may take photos to help support scoring of your standards.  After your onsite visit, you will be notified within 3 business days if you can now call yourself a Fear Free Certified® Practice!

To be eligible for Practice Certification, the following requirements must be met: 

A minimum of 25% of staff must be Fear Free Certified and have active memberships.

The 25% must include:

  • 100% of onsite managers and leadership
    • e.g. Owner, Practice Manager, Supervisor, ‘Head’, ‘Lead’, etc.
  • 50% +1 of all FTE veterinarians
    • Round up non-whole numbers (see FAQ below for details)
    • NOTE- if you are a specialty practice with multiple departments e.g. Internal Medicine, Surgery, Dentistry, ER etc. you must have at least 1 FT DVM from each department Fear Free Certified and have active memberships

All team members of a Fear Free Certified® Practice are awarded a Fear Free Practice Certification Membership, which includes:

  • Certification courses
  • Any complimentary CE offered by Fear Free, such as Module 8 and the podcast series
  • Educational Library
  • Toolbox
  • Online Store
  • Preferred Product Program
  • A closed Facebook group

Other benefits:

  • Monthly webinars on topics such as marketing, communication, implementation, and subject matter expertise as it relates to Fear Free
  • Practices will be listed in their own online directory, both on the veterinary professional and pet owner landing pages
  • Practices will have permission to market themselves as a Fear Free Certified® Practice, which includes the use of our logos on their building, entrance, and any marketing collateral

Annual renewal is required in order to keep a practice’s certification status active. Renewal will include:

  • Payment of the annual renewal fee. The fee will depend on the practice’s number of FTE veterinarians at the time of renewal.
  • Number of certified professionals at practice. 75% or more of staff that has patient and/or client interaction (veterinarians, veterinary nurses, receptionists, etc.) to be Fear Free Certified® and to have an active membership at the time of renewal. Those 75% are broken down as follows:
    • 100% of all veterinarians
    • 100% of onsite management and leadership
    • Remainder to be veterinary nurses, customer service representatives, support staff

To be eligible for practice certification, a minimum of 25% of your entire staff must be Fear Free Certified® and have active (not expired) memberships. The 25% must include 100% of your leadership/management team and 50% + 1 of your FTE veterinarians.

Overview of Standards

Standards are divided into various categories. Some categories include mandatory as well as optional standards; while others include only optional or only mandatory standards.

Categories

  • Physical & Emotional
  • Client Education
  • Medical Records
  • Facility
  • Community Education
  • Culture, training, leadership
  • Patient Observation

Download the Standards

To view and download the Fear Free Practice Certification Standards document, you must have an active Fear Free membership and be logged in. Once you are logged in, the document will be available for download on this page. If you would like to view the document and you are not currently a member, please email wags@fearfreepets.com to request a copy.

Due to renew?

If your Practice Certification is about to expire, it’s time to renew! Click below and follow the instructions to renew now.

Practice Certification Pricing

To adequately reflect the benefits outlined above for hospitals of different sizes, the following pricing structure is being introduced:

1-15 FTE Veterinarians

Base Price: $500

Plus $200 per FTE veterinarian

16+ FTE Veterinarians

Flat Rate: $3,500

Includes base rate

Fees are due annually; proof of % of staff certified plus number of FTE veterinarians on staff are required at time of renewal.
Costs include the on-site visit of a Fear Free consultant. An on-site visit will be required at the time of initial certification, and every three years thereafter.

Since we embraced Fear Free in every aspect of our practice, we have not only seen our client base increase, but our repeat customers, overall satisfaction rate, and maybe most importantly, our staff satisfaction rate. . . If anyone asked me what one thing they could do right now to improve their practice, it would absolutely be starting down the road towards Fear Free Practice Certification.

Natalie Marks, DVM

Webinars on Practice Certification

 Inside Practice Certification

Open to the public

Learn more about practice certification, how to interpret specific standards, and best practices on achieving this coveted certification from our resident expert, Dr. Rachel Abrams.

Watch now!

Making the Most of Your Practice Certification

Certified Practice Members Only 

Take advantage of this exclusive benefit and get access to leading Fear Free experts, learn how to maximize your Fear Free experience, and get your questions answered.

Watch now!

FAQ

I’m interested in Practice Certification, but I’d like to know more. Can I see the standards before I apply?

Yes! When you are logged in, you can download the standards from the Practice Certification page. You can also download the Practice Certification Supporting Examples & Resources PDF and view the Terms & Conditions. If you do not have an active Fear Free membership, please email your request to wags@fearfreepets.com.

My practice wants to become certified, but we have not yet signed up any team members for certification. Can we go straight into the Practice Certification process?

No. To be eligible for Practice Certification, a minimum of 25% of your team must be certified and have an active membership. The 25% must include 100% of your managers/leadership team and 50%+1 of your FTE veterinarians. An FTE employee is defined as working an average of > 35 hours per week.

How many team members have to be Fear Free Certified® before we can call ourselves a Certified Practice?

Having a minimum of 25% of your team (which must include 100% of your managers/leadership team and 50%+1 of your FTE veterinarians) is just the first step to becoming a Fear Free Certified Practice. Practices are required to implement ~50 standards and successfully complete an onsite visit with a Practice Certification Veterinarian to earn practice certification. For additional details about eligibility requirements, click HERE.

To be eligible for Practice Certification, it says we have to have a minimum of 25% of our team Fear Free Certified® and have an active membership. What level of certification is required?

Team members are considered to be Fear Free Certified® when they have completed the Fear Free Certification Program. Your team is strongly encouraged to take advantage of the complimentary CE courses, such as Module 8: An Implementation Guide for Leaders, webinars, and podcasts included in their individual memberships.

What does it mean to have an “active membership”?

An active membership is not expired. If you can not access the website, you do not have an active membership. Group Leaders can check their team members’ expiration dates via the EXP DATE column in their Manage My Team page.

To be eligible for Practice Certification, it says we need to have a minimum of 25% of our team Fear Free Certified® and have active memberships. We have 15 team members: Do we need to have a minimum of 3 or 4?

Fear Free will round up any non-whole numbers. A practice with 15 team members would need a minimum of 4 team members to be Fear Free Certified® and have active memberships.

15/4= 3.75, round up to 4.

If a practice has a large leadership team (e.g. multiple owners, multiple managers, multiple heads of departments, etc.), they could end up with more than 25% total people needing to be Fear Free Certified® and have active memberships to be eligible for Practice Certification.

To be eligible for Practice Certification, it says we need to have 50% +1 of our FTE veterinarians Fear Free Certified® and have active memberships. We have 5 FTE vets: Do we need to have 3 or 4 to be Fear Free Certified® and have an active membership?

Fear Free will round up non-whole numbers. A practice with 5 FTE veterinarians would need a minimum of 4 to be Fear Free Certified® and have active memberships.

5/2= 2.5 +1= 3.5, round up to 4.

If you have multiple PT veterinarians, their average weekly hours will be added up and divided by 35 to determine how many FTE they equal.

We have 2 practices, but they are owned by the same people. Do I have to pay separately to get each location certified?

Yes, each physical location must go through the process independently. They must each meet the eligibility requirements, pay the $500 non-refundable deposit, and successfully complete the onsite visit.

Once we start Practice Certification, how long do we have to complete it?

Your Group Leader will have access to the online self-assessment via his or her Practice Certification Dashboard for one (1) year. HOWEVER, if your self-assessment is submitted more than 90 days after your application is approved, you may be required to renew some individual memberships to remain eligible for Practice Certification. For additional information, click HERE.

After my application for Practice Certification is approved, how long will it take to get my onsite visit scheduled?

It will depend in part how far along you are in implementing the standards when you apply. The further along you are, the faster you will be able to complete and submit your online self-assessment. Once your self-assessment is approved by Fear Free, you will be given a minimum of three (3) dates to choose from to schedule your onsite visit. At least one (1) of those dates will be within a 60-day window from when your self-assessment is approved.

We are in the process of getting our practice certified. Why do I keep getting reminders to renew my team’s memberships?

If an individual’s membership expires, s/he will receive renewal notifications via email. If you are in your 90-day Grace Period, you do not need to renew anyone to remain eligible for Practice Certification. Expired members will not have access to the website.

What happens if I submit my self-assessment, but it’s not approved?

Clicking that submit button is a big step! Not to worry, if any information needs clarification or is missing, the Practice Certification Manager will schedule a consultation with you and together you will create a plan to keep you moving forward.

What happens if we don’t pass our onsite visit?

In the unfortunate event a practice does not successfully complete the onsite visit, Fear Free is committed to working with the practice until they are able to implement all the standards and achieve Practice Certification. If a second onsite visit is required, an additional $500 fee will apply.

How much does Practice Certification cost?

The annual Practice Certification fee is $500 + $200 per FTE veterinarian. An FTE veterinarian is defined as working an average of >35 hours per week. If you have multiple PT veterinarians, their average weekly hours will be added up and divided by 35 to determine how many FTE they equal. The annual fee is capped at $3500.

How do I pay for Practice Certification?

When you register for practice certification, you pay a non-refundable $500 deposit via credit card. Once a practice achieves certification, the Group Leader will receive an invoice for the remaining balance of $200 per FTE veterinarian. An FTE veterinarian is defined as working an average of >35 hrs. per week. If you have multiple PT veterinarians, their average weekly hours will be added up and divided by 35 to determine how many FTE they equal. The annual fee is capped at $3,500.

Is there an annual renewal fee for Practice Certification?

Yes. The annual renewal fee is $500 + $200 per FTE veterinarian. An FTE veterinarian is defined as working an average of >35 hours per week. If you have multiple PT veterinarians, their average weekly hours will be added up and divided by 35 to determine how many FTE they equal. The annual fee is capped at $3500.

Once our practice achieves certification, how much do we have to pay for any new team members to get certified?

One of the best benefits of achieving Practice Certification is that all your team members receive a Fear Free membership. The annual Practice Certification fee takes the place of individual membership purchases and renewals.