It’s no secret that the veterinary industry has been struggling with staffing issues for some time now. Between January 2019 and May 2021, six positions were open for every technician and assistant looking for a job. The gap is even larger for veterinarians—for every veterinarian looking for a job, there were 18 open positions. This lack of talent means that practice staff often have to cover several roles in their practices, resulting in them being overwhelmed and oftentimes burned out. COVID-19 has only made matters worse. With veterinarians 2.7 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general public, addressing the grave issues of burnout and compassion fatigue in veterinary medicine is vital.
Combating burnout in your veterinary team
With all the stressors weighing down on veterinary professionals, from veterinarians to customer service representatives (CSRs), you’re likely looking for ways to make day-to-day tasks easier on your team. Banish burnout with the following solutions designed to alleviate your staff’s stress.
1. Encourage self-care
Gently nudging your team to take care of themselves mentally and physically, both in and out of your practice, can help give them the support they need to practice self-care. In the practice, enforce lunch breaks and end each day on a positive note (e.g., reviewing a success story from the day). Outside the practice, encourage your team to leave work at work, and to engage in stress-relieving hobbies, such as hiking or yoga.
2. Automate repetitive tasks
Technology tools are an excellent way to lend a virtual hand to your team, helping to reduce their stress and their feeling of being overwhelmed. Automating mundane tasks, and removing those jobs from your team’s plate, can go a long way toward increased efficiency and job satisfaction. Many of your team’s repetitive (and exhausting) tasks can be handled through automation services like FastClient.ai by VetVet. FastClient.ai reduces time spent on repetitive tasks, enabling veterinary teams to do more with less. The technology can:
● Automate intake, including collecting answers to intake questions before a client's visit
(e.g., symptoms, current medications, diet, etc.)
● Trigger arrival instructions, like curbside service check-in instructions
● Collect contactless payments in the exam room or at home
● Automate follow-ups
● Help you get clients to sign and consent to your terms digitally
FastClient.ai frees up your team to focus on helping pets. The software reduces overall staffing costs, gets patients in and out faster, and is convenient for your clients.
3. Support your team’s needs
Flexible scheduling, a positive culture, and ensuring your team leaves on time help support a healthy work-life balance, which are huge benefits for veterinary professionals. Many people choose jobs based on these benefits, and will often pass up a position with higher pay for one that supports a healthier lifestyle.
4. Schedule regular check-ins
Do not rely on your annual reviews, which are often stretched further than a year, as your sole means of team communication. Schedule regular one-on-one talks with each team member, to see how they’re doing, and what you can do to improve their current role.
Scenario 1: Your busy veterinarian is rushing from appointment to appointment, but is falling behind. They are slowed down by asking the same history questions over and over. Then, they get more bogged down by the chatty client who shares detailed stories about their pet’s every meal, nap, and bowel movement over the past month.
With FastClient.ai: Your veterinarian can quickly review information gathered from the intake questions, and move on to the physical exam. If you consider the minutes saved during each appointment, the time saved quickly adds up, enabling you to—gasp!—actually go home on time.
3 ways FastClient.ai can help your team do more with less
Since we cannot magically produce more team members from thin air, practices must look to increase efficiency to fill the gaps left by staffing shortages, thereby easing the pressure on their teams. By automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks, FastClient.ai can maximize practice efficiency, and help shoulder your team’s workload.
Take a look at how FastClient.ai can streamline your practice’s workflows and help bolster your overwhelmed team:
Scenario 2: A hospitalized patient requires further diagnostic testing, but your CSR cannot reach the owner by phone. Your team is in a holding pattern, and the end of the day is approaching. At closing time, the owner calls back and approves the blood work, which means your team must stay late—again—costing you money, and hurting your team’s work-life balance.
With FastClient.ai: You can send the owner a message about needing additional testing, and they can quickly approve further diagnostics. You can also send the client updated charges, and collect payment seamlessly through the software, even after they’ve left your practice.
Scenario 3: After their appointment, a client joins the long service desk line to pay their bill. Your flustered CSR is doing their best to keep up, but people are getting impatient, and a cat is now swatting through their carrier door at a persistent dog. When the CSR calls for help, a veterinary assistant stops administering fluids to a sick pet to help check people out, and print out their follow-up instructions.
With FastClient.ai: At the visit’s conclusion, the client can be prompted to pay the invoice through FastClient.ai in the examination room, on their own phone. They quickly enter their credit card information, and pay securely and seamlessly. Automated follow-up messages can be triggered, which eliminates the need for printed handouts. Your CSR can focus on answering phone calls and greeting incoming clients, eliminating the crowded lobby and stressed pets.
With FastClient.ai, your veterinary team can do more with less, helping alleviate burnout, and supporting your overwhelmed staff. Schedule a demo to learn all the ways our software can automate mundane tasks to boost your practice’s efficiency and reduce stress.
https://www.inquirer.com/business/vets-veterinarians-school-salary-tech-pandemic-20210711.html. The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2021.
https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-09-15/are-we-veterinary-workforce-crisis. AVMA. 2021.
https://www.merck-animal-health-usa.com/about-us/veterinary-wellbeing-study. Merck. 2020.
About the author:
Melissa Murray is a registered veterinary technician who enjoys living in her rural Indiana home, surrounded by her herd of pygmy goats and pack of dogs. She believes that one of a veterinary technician’s most important roles is educating pet owners on how to help their animal companions live their best lives, and she loves sharing her knowledge with the pet-loving community.