Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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62 Today's Veterinary Business VetPartners Corner When I was an associate at a multidoctor practice, we would take turns for time off. While we were excited for our own time away, col- leagues' vacations meant extra work for those left behind since the same number of cases would get divvied among fewer vets. To release added stress, funny pranks were often played on the returning vacationer. Here's an example of the first line of a poem written on one such occasion: " While you were enjoying the sand and the sea, " We were dealing with vomiting, diarrhea and pu/pd." This goes on for several more stanzas, but you get the gist. Hiring a Relief Vet Makes Sense That type of vacation coverage strategy creates a cycle of burnout and resentment as associates feel overworked or guilty for having taken time off. Patient care and client satisfaction also suffer under these circumstances. Hiring relief vets to mind the practice while owners or associates take hard-earned vacation, per- sonal days, sick days, maternity or paternity leave, or a sabbatical is a wise investment in the health and well-being of the business. Relief vets are well worth the cost as they help maintain work flow and keep clients happy, pets cared for and the staff sane. Like bees picking up pollen on one flower and taking it to another, relief vets are conduits of knowledge exchange. Working across multiple practices of vary- ing sizes and styles, relief vets pick up a range of case-management approaches, treatment tips, com- munication strategies and organi- zational techniques. This informa- tion is absorbed and then passed along, adopted or repurposed to the benefit of other clinics. Our practices benefit from sharing the collective knowledge stored in the community of veterinarians, nurses, assistants and receptionists. Jump in the Pool Since I live in a beautiful coastal town in Florida, we see a large sea- VetPartners Corner Does anyone remember the McDonald's advertising slogan "You deserve a break today"? The jingle frequently dances through my head as I think about my career as a relief veterinarian. The veterinary relief, or locum, niche is becoming ever more important in our profession. The need for this business-to-business service is growing along with the exploding pet population. Practice owners and associ- ates are being stretched thin as they serve ever more clients and pets. With this added demand on veterinarians, there is a greater justification to share the workload, allowing time for recuperation from job stresses. By Cindy Trice, DVM Fill-in veterinarians are well worth the cost. They help maintain work flow and keep clients happy, pets cared for and the staff sane. sonal increase in our population as the snow birds migrate south for the winter. This creates a lot of extra traffic on our roads and in our practices. Relief vets are perfect for this situation because they don't have the commitment and associated costs of a full-time vet. Some relief vets are willing to travel or live part time in different parts of the country in pursuit of lifestyle and seasonal work, so your relief vet choices might not be limited to a local pool. Perhaps your clinic is expe- riencing steady growth but you aren't sure if the practice is ready to support another full-time veterinarian. Hire a relief vet for a few months to test the viability of another doctor and evaluate any additional staff needs or work-flow modifications required to accom- modate the change. Having a pool of local relief vets with whom you are familiar can be helpful if you find yourself with unexpected absences and need to quickly fill shifts. While working relief, I was asked to stay on as a full-time vet. Due to my husband's work, we had been splitting our time between Florida and Montana. After my husband's seasonal job came to an end and I knew we'd be staying in Florida for a while, I agreed to sign on as an associate. This turned out to be a win-win. Some veterinarians work re- lief as a career choice. For others, relief work is a means to test the cultures of various practices to find one that fits their style and career aspirations. These relief practitioners may or may not be forthcoming about their inten- tions since they want to see the clinic in its day-to-day behavior and not just when it is actively recruiting vets. If you are looking for an associate you may want to "foster" a relief vet to see if an opportunity is present for a "forever" home. Alternatively, relief vets can provide coverage so you can take your time and find the perfect associate. Oh, what a relief it is

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