To apply and qualify for Practice Certification, a minimum of 25% of the entire staff must be Fear Free Certified and have an active Fear Free membership. The 25%* must include 100% of onsite leadership/management (e.g. Owner, Practice Manager, Supervisor, “Head,” “Lead,” etc.) and 50% +1* of all FTE** veterinarians. Eligibility is determined via the APPLICATION for Practice Certification.
*round up non-whole numbers **FTE = 35 hrs/wk
REGISTRATION AND DEPOSIT
When a practice’s application is approved, a link for the practice to REGISTER will be emailed to the Group Leader. A non-refundable deposit of five hundred (500) USD dollars is due at the time of Fear Free Practice Certification registration. When the certification process has been successfully completed, said deposit will be applied to the total final cost of practice certification.
Upon registration, the practice will have access to the online SELF-ASSESSMENT (via the Group Leader’s Practice Certification Dashboard) for one (1) year. Fear Free reserves the right to update the standards that comprise the Self-Assessment annually. Updates will be launched the first business day of every April. If the self-assessment is submitted more than 1 year after the registration date, the most current Self-Assessment must be completed and submitted for review.
ACTIVE FEAR FREE MEMBERSHIP GRACE PERIOD
Practices will have a 90-day grace period between the time the application for practice certification is approved and the submission of the self-assessment for review. A practice will know the application has been approved when the link to register is emailed to the Group Leader. Upon request, the Group Leader’s Veterinary Membership may be extended through this 90-day period.
If the practice submits the Self-Assessment for review within the 90-day grace period and for whatever reason no longer meets the practice certification eligibility requirements, the practice will NOT be required to get additional staff members Fear Free Certified and/or renew any staff members’ accounts to meet the eligibility requirements. Members with expired accounts will not have access to the website.
If the practice submits the Self-Assessment for review AFTER the 90-day grace period and for whatever reason no longer meets the practice certification eligibility requirements, the practice WILL be required to get additional staff members Fear Free Certified and/or renew any staff members’ accounts to meet the eligibility requirements.
COST OF PRACTICE CERTIFICATION
For practices with 1-14 FTE veterinarians, the annual fee is five hundred $500 USD + $200 USD per FTE veterinarian. For practices with > 15 FTE veterinarians, the annual fee is $3,500 USD.
SCHEDULING ONSITE VISIT
The onsite Practice Certification visit can be scheduled within sixty (60) days* from the time Fear Free determines the practice is eligible for said visit. Fear Free will provide the practice with a minimum of three (3) dates from which to choose for their onsite certification visit. Dates will be provided to the practice via email by 6 pm ET Friday. The practice must respond with their date of choice by 9 pm ET the following Tuesday. Failure to do so could result in release of offered dates and generation of a new set of dates. The new set of dates is not guaranteed to be within the previously specified sixty (60) day window.
*Does not apply to Canada. Fear Free will make every effort to schedule Canadian onsite visits as soon as possible, but at this time cannot guarantee it will be within a 60-day window.
ONSITE VISIT: PHOTOS
Your Practice Certification Veterinarian (PCV) will take pictures to support scoring of the standards and to share with Fear Free for review. “Best Practices” photos may be shared with the Fear Free community, unless you request otherwise.
ONSITE VISIT: PATIENT VISIT
Your PCV will be observing at least 2 complete patient visits. On the day of your onsite visit, please try to keep your appointment schedule as normal as possible.
ONSITE VISIT: MEDICAL RECORDS
Your PCV will be reviewing medical records at random to support scoring for the standards. S/he will only review medical records from the date you registered for Practice Certification forward. Any medical records that precede your Practice Certification registration will not be subject to review.
RESCHEDULING/CANCELLATION OF CONFIRMED ONSITE CERTIFICATION VISIT
If a practice needs to reschedule or cancel a confirmed onsite visit, the practice will be charged a $250 USD fee to cover all travel-related change fees for the Practice Certification Veterinarian scheduled to perform the onsite visit. The onsite visit is considered confirmed when the practice notifies Fear Free of the chosen date.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF CERTIFICATION
The Practice Certification membership starts the date the remaining annual Practice Certification fee ($200 USD/FTE veterinarian) is paid.
CERTIFICATION PERIOD AND RENEWAL
Practice Certification is valid for one (1) year and is subject to an annual renewal fee. The annual renewal fee is based on the FTE veterinarian count at the time of renewal. Practices can apply for renewal by filling out the application on the Renew Practice Certification page. Once approved, Fear Free will email the practice with a link to pay the annual renewal dues.
At the time of the first Practice Certification annual renewal, the practice must have at least 75% of its employees Fear Free Certified. The 75% must include:
- 100% of all onsite leadership/management
- 100% of veterinarians
At the time of the second annual renewal and on, the practice must have 100% of its employees Fear Free Certified. Employees who have been with the practice for fewer than 90 days are exempt from this requirement.
Every third year, a self-assessment and onsite visit are required to maintain Practice Certification. The onsite visit must be completed prior to the end of the third year. For example, if the practice was certified on October 1, 2018, the onsite visit must be completed prior to October 1, 2021.
Failure to renew one’s Practice Certification on or before the annual renewal due date will result in the practice’s immediate removal from the Fear Free Certified Practice Directory. Team members will also lose access to the Fear Free website (fearfreepets.com). If the Practice Certification renewal fee has still not been paid 30 days past the due date, all team members will be removed from the Fear Free Certified Professional Directory and the Fear Free Certified Professionals closed Facebook group.
If payment is received within 12 months of the missed annual renewal due date, the directory listings and team members’ access to the Facebook page will be restored. The annual renewal date will remain unchanged. For example, if the practice was due to renew on May 1, 2019, but did not renew until June 1, 2019, the next annual renewal is still due May 1, 2020 (not June 1, 2020).
If payment is not received within 12 months of the missed annual renewal due date, the practice must re-establish their status as a Fear Free Certified Practice by successfully completing the process from start to finish: apply, register, online self-assessment, and onsite visit. The practice must complete the self-assessment within 30 days of the application being approved. At least one potential onsite visit date will be offered within 60 days of approval of the self-assessment.
In addition to the annual Practice Certification fee of $500 USD + $200 USD per FTE veterinarian (capped at $3500 USD), there will be a $750 USD fee for the repeat onsite visit.
Please note that Practice Certification standards are expected to evolve and change as Fear Free develops additional educational opportunities and improves processes. Any changes will not affect a practice’s current certification status but could impact renewal requirements.
FAILURE TO PASS CERTIFICATION
In the unfortunate event that a practice completes all the required steps, including the onsite visit, and is determined not to have met the standards for Practice Certification, Fear Free will provide support to said practice to continue working toward Practice Certification. A second onsite visit may be required and will be handled on a case-by-case basis. If a second onsite visit is required, an additional $500 USD fee will apply.
UPDATED JAN 2020