We are all living through practicing during COVID. It’s an adjustment and we are all a little extra stressed throughout the day. But there has been a growing trend of burnout, negativity, and overall unhappiness seen in the veterinary clinic and it definitely is having a huge effect on everyone. To me, every day is a new day for something good to happen. I try to remain positive at work, which then impacts my team and the work they do daily. Here are some of my daily tips that can lead to a less stressful day and might help you become more productive.
1. Arrive early!
Nothing makes a day more stressful and irritating than arriving to work and already having several rooms waiting for you. You pretty much have already started your day in the mindset that you are behind and will always be behind. Continuing this pattern leads to burnout and an unhappy work environment. Setting your morning alarm an extra 15-30 minutes early will allow you time to get to work before appointments have started and give you the opportunity to get ready for the day. You can assess the appointments coming in, look over your messages and respond as needed, and review any lab work that you may have sent out. This leads to less stress at the end of the day as well since you will have taken care of most of your messages and calls to owners.
2. Pack your lunch the night before.
It sounds so simple but honestly, this can make or break your lunchtime. Having an already packed lunch means you don’t have to waste time looking at menus, ordering food, waiting for the food to arrive and stressing about the delivery potentially being late. You will also feel better with a self-packed lunch versus spending unnecessary money on greasy takeout. Obviously, you may want to treat yourself from time to time but in general, having a pre-packed lunch means less stress for you.
3. Learn how to multi-task efficiently.
You are a veterinarian which means you already know how to multi-task. You have done it throughout your entire schooling and continue to do it to this day. But there is a difference between multi-tasking and efficiently multi-tasking. Trying to see three rooms at once only helps if you can switch your focus easily. If room 1 needs blood work then have your technician get it running, write down your notes and switch to room 2. While your technician is discharging room 2 you can write your notes and then move onto room 3 while still remembering that lab work is running on room 1. But if all three rooms require large workups it’s not efficient to try to take on all three at once. Pick your battles and learn that trying to do it all can actually slow down your efficiency.
4. Leave your home life at the door.
One of my technicians states that her child tells her to take off her work coat when she gets home. It’s a cute way of saying, mommy separate your work life from your home life. I know it’s hard – your staff is like your second family. But if you continue to come into work upset about what may be going on in your home life, you are just going to spread that negativity throughout the day. Spending 15 minutes complaining about how you have so much laundry to do at home means you just wasted 15 minutes that could have been used to write notes, call owners, or finish an exam. We all need a little time to vent but if that negatively continues to make your day worse, then it really isn’t helping you decompress.
5. Utilize your technicians and staff.
Your staff is the lifeblood of the clinic. You need to trust them and trust in them to help you with tasks. Don’t be the doctor that refuses to allow their technicians to get blood or urine themselves. If you are worried they will miss something on ultrasound when obtaining urine then teach them what to look for to sharpen their skills. If you have technicians that monitor your hospitalized patients, trust in their skills of observation and let them guide you to change or keep certain treatment plans. Train your staff to feel comfortable going over lab results with owners and discussing the doctor’s plans. The more you use them the less stress on your plate.
Take a few moments to just breathe, decompress and assess the situation. You are the doctor, you are the rock. If three emergencies come through the door and you have frozen, then the rest of the staff will panic. Know that if you push through with a positive attitude it will be easier to get through those unexpected rough moments. Yelling at the staff, blaming the staff, or getting mad at the circumstances of the emergency will never help you in a time of crisis.
I’m not an expert but I know what has helped me the most over the last several years of practice. Walk into work happy and ready for the day and likely you will leave work a happier person as well.