Do you remember why you love veterinary medicine? Is it the satisfaction you get from seeing a pet owner learn their pet will be OK? Warm puppy snuggles? Or, do you struggle to remember why you became a veterinarian?
Unfortunately, between long hours and cranky clients, you may have forgotten your “why.” According to a 2020 VHMA study, 28 percent of practices reported increased veterinarian hours, and 49 percent reported increased support staff hours. You know that working 50 hours, or more, per week, is a fast track to burnout, but do you struggle to find ways to get home on time? You deserve to get home on time. You deserve to remember why you became a veterinarian. You deserve joy.
Identifying ways to decrease stress and burnout can help you rediscover the career you love. Many resources to save you time, ease your daily burden, and make practice easier are available. These five tips will help you use readily available tools to increase efficiency, decrease stress, and enjoy practice again.
#1: Keep track of each patient’s status at a glance
Keeping track of each patient’s status can be overwhelming. Between asking, “Where is my patient?“ or “Has that treatment been administered yet?” disorganization can leave you harried and on-edge. Instead of trying to interpret a messy white board, use your practice management software’s dashboard to see where each patient is, whether they have received their latest treatment, and which patient you should see next. Your software should display all patients currently in your hospital on one user-friendly screen, so you won’t waste time figuring out what to do next. Also, designations such as “In review” and “Lab pending” can ensure you don’t forget to go back at the end of the day and finish up a medical record, or review lab results.
When you know exactly what is going on with every patient, rather than feeling frantic and panicked, wondering whether a patient received their insulin on time, for example, your stress levels decrease, and you can enjoy practice again.
#2: Make medical record keeping less stressful
Do you struggle to organize important information in your digital medical record’s inconvenient line-item format? A SOAP-based format can help you better organize your notes for each appointment. Use drop-down menus that make inserting patient problems, diagnoses, and prognoses as simple as a mouse click, which will save you precious time during each visit. Instead of typing the same thing over and over—you can describe superficial pyoderma only so many ways—take advantage of customizable templates that help you breeze through records for routine appointments. With the time you save creating complete records with a few clicks, rather than hours of typing, you can move on to more important things, and take home stories at the end of the day, instead of stress.
#3: Let technology make client communication easier
Client communication is key to ensuring your patients receive the care they deserve. Use technology such as two-way messaging, discharge instructions, and automated reminders to provide your clients important information, with minimal time and effort on your part. Instead of getting pulled into lengthy phone conversations, use two-way messaging, which allows you and your team to answer client questions with a quick text message. Instead of typing discharge instructions for each patient, let your veterinary software build personalized discharge instructions from customized notes for each service you enter. And, use automated reminders for routine services, such as wellness appointments, blood work, and vaccines, to eliminate repetitive tasks such as reminder phone calls and sending email reminders. Time saved on these simple tasks can ease stress for every team member—from CSRs, to veterinary technicians, to veterinarians—and make the overall work environment much more enjoyable and rewarding.
#4: Ensure your invoices are complete
Forgetting to enter charges is a universal source of stress—and lost income—for veterinarians. Lost income drives veterinarians to work longer and harder, and may eventually cause you to resent the career you once loved.
Automatic charge capture ensures that a charge automatically appears on the invoice for each service you enter in a patient’s medical record, making forgotten charges a concern of the past. A better bottom line will help reduce stress, while not having to enter charges can let you focus on your “why”—your patients.
#5: Tighten your protocols
Inefficient processes slow down your day, cause frustration, and prevent you from getting home on time. While I am not suggesting you institute military-grade protocols, you can likely think of a few pain points that bog down your daily workflows. Once you identify the problems, such as an old microscope that needs refocused before each use, or a server that repeatedly crashes, brainstorm time-saving solutions. Repairing your microscope can save you minutes with each use, and a cloud-based system can save you hours on the phone with customer support. Efficiencies quickly add up, and can translate to less wasted time and frustration, and much more joy.
The best veterinary software can help you incorporate many of these stress-reducing tips in your practice. At Shepherd Veterinary Software, we believe that intuitive, efficient, user-friendly software can eliminate many of the stressors that lead to burnout, and help you remember your “why.” Schedule a demo to reclaim your joy, and remember how much you love being a veterinarian.