It’s not your fault! How to lighten your load.
Burnout is a work-related problem, created by the workplace. And unsustainable workloads are a key culprit. Research by Gallup has shown that the risk of workplace burnout increases significantly when employees work 50 hours or more a week.
Wendy Hauser, DVM and president of Peak Veterinary Consulting, suggests how to get started easing your team’s workload:
1. Reduce medical record inefficiencies. In human studies, for every hour that inpatient physicians spend with clients, they spend two hours updating medical records, filling prescriptions and communicating treatment plans. Medical record inefficiencies can be lessened by the use of dedicated exam room scribes or voice-to-text tools, the use of electronic medical records and using standardized examination templates created within the practice management software systems.
2. Use a team-based model of care. When team members are leveraged to work at the top of their license, it helps to share the workload. When the right work is done by the right team member at the right time, efficiency is improved, as well as team member engagement. One way to help relieve stress and workload for veterinary technicians and assistants is to stop using them as janitorial staff and hire an outside cleaning service. The cost savings to the hospital is significant in two ways: It reduces overtime hours paid when the staff needs to clean at the end of the day, and by treating our technicians and assistants as the professionals they are, it helps foster a professional identity.
3. Block appointments for ill or injured animals. Chaos fueled by inefficiencies further impacts workplace processes. Some ways to reduce the “out of control” appointments that are prevalent in veterinary hospitals include blocking appointments in the schedule to accommodate ill or injured animals. These appointments should be booked only the same day they are available to ensure they are reserved for needy patients. You might also want to build extra capacity into your schedule in the form of a part-time or relief doctor who sees only urgent-care appointments.
4. Define last-minute care policies. Create clearly defined policy for owners who call toward the end of the day for care. Can your team realistically provide thoughtful service to them after working all day? Is it fair to the client, patient and team members to expect employees to stay late to service these emergencies? At what point is your front desk team empowered to refer clients to emergency hospitals for care?
Try to align employees’ work to what motivates them. Studies show that physicians who spent more than 20% of their time doing the work that was most meaningful to them experienced lower rates of burnout.