When to Hire a Relief Vet

July 2022 |

Whether it’s for you or your team, temporary solutions can help with work-life balance.

As a veterinary practice owner, you may have difficulty finding time for continuing your education, taking a vacation or spending more time with your family.

You’re not alone. U.S. workers rarely take all their vacation time. And when they do, they often check in at work, even when they are supposed to be on vacation. American workers have a history of passing up rightfully earned time off, as taking it seems to go against our urge to be productive and prove our worth. However, that approach can be detrimental to your health, as well as the health of your practice.

Studies show that taking adequate time off provides measurable cardiovascular health benefits, including decreased risk of heart attacks in both men and women. And taking a breather can actually help you get more work done—a study by the Boston Consulting Group found that upper management professionals who took more time off were significantly more productive than those who worked more.

Vacation Solutions
Convinced that time off can be used to your advantage but not sure how to pull it off? The solution could be a relief veterinarian. Relief veterinarians can help you and your associates take much-needed time off, and they may even bring an outside, fresh perspective to your practice.

Besides that, if you have a “busy season” that overwhelms your team but you worry that you couldn’t keep another doctor busy all year long, relief veterinarians can help you grow your business without making the full-time commitment of hiring another veterinarian.

Where to Look
Locally, the best way to find a relief veterinarian begins with your colleagues. Reach out to neighboring practices and ask for recommendations. Also, check with your local veterinary medical association for relief veterinary postings and referrals. Or consider relief veterinary services such as RSVP, a PSIvet vendor partner. (See box.)

Interviewing Candidates
As with any new member of your team, you’ll want to hire a relief veterinarian who understands your practice mission and philosophy. For a solid starting point, use interview questions based around your core values and openly discuss your practice’s mission. Bring the candidates into your hospital to meet members of your team and tour the hospital. Check references thoroughly and provide any hired relief veterinarians with an orientation to your hospital flow before setting them loose on the schedule.

Price of Relief
The cost of a relief veterinarian varies greatly, based on region and demand. One thing you can count on and should budget for is a higher hourly rate than the full-time veterinarians you already employ. You can also expect a higher shift differential if your relief veterinarian is covering overnight shifts, on-call or holidays.

Don’t let extra costs deter you from keeping your practice running at optimal levels. As independent contractors, relief veterinarians are responsible for their own insurance, licensing, professional membership dues, continuing education and income taxes, so remember to factor that in when comparing your associates’ hourly rates to that of a relief veterinarian.

Get Started

RSVP (Relief Services for Veterinary Practitioners) can assess your practice needs to help you find matching candidates based on your practice size, appointment pace, client demographics and the personality and culture of your team. Contact your PSIvet Practice Consultant.