Welcome to summer, and veterinary medicine’s notoriously “busy season.” But, since the emergence of the pandemic puppy and COVID kitten, we’ve been through a nonstop busy season for the past year. Now that summer is upon us, how are exhausted veterinary teams supposed to survive? Here are five tips.
1: Open one hour later once or twice per week
It might not sound like much, but getting to sleep in a little extra one or two days a week can be a glorious thing. Or, maybe instead of sleeping in, you can spend some quality time with your kids or work in your garden. Even this small change will feel like a huge reprieve to you and your veterinary team.
2: Close one hour early once or twice per week
Why not? Close at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m., and get yourself and your team home with three hours of daylight left to go to a ball game, watch Netflix on the couch, or get in a nice walk.
3: Partner with another veterinary practice and close for an entire day
It’s time to come together and support each other. Thanks to the patient volume overload practices are experiencing, the guy or gal down the street isn’t your competitor anymore. Collaborate with another practice so they cover your emergencies while your practice takes a Friday off to enjoy a three-day weekend once a month, and then return the favor.
4: Extend the refill requirement
Somewhere it became some sort of rule that patients needed to have a wellness exam every 12 months to qualify for medication. In my state of Colorado (please consult your state’s Veterinary Practice Act at the DORA website), the language is vague and says an exam is needed “in a reasonable period of time” to prescribe. There is nothing really magical about 12 months, so when you are slammed and the client is requesting a refill of thyroid medication for their pet, consider extending the exam requirement to 18 months.
5: Hold a vaccine clinic
I know… you might be dying reading this, but give me a minute to explain. When I graduated veterinary school in 1996, vaccine clinics were phasing out as the wellness-exam style of vet med emerged. But, our predecessors may have been on to something as solo practitioners serving the masses in their community. With so many puppies and kittens out there right now, consolidating these visits into a clinic may save your sanity. You could take it one step further and have “Doodle Day” or “Frenchie Friday,” where you invite all the puppies to come that day for a technician-driven vaccine clinic. You could pair it with a free one-hour Zoom class that week for the doctor to host and share an educational presentation so you are contributing to the development of the veterinary-client-patient bond.
If we have learned anything over the past year, it is that the times are changing. There is no time like the present to try something new—or old—to take care of yourself and your team.