Suffering from a Veterinary Staffing Shortage? 5 Ways to Share the Workload
With the workforce crisis hindering the veterinary industry, it’s tough to find—and retain—good help. Even if you can find a credentialed employee or two to pad your bare-bones team, it may not be enough help to manage your overwhelming caseload. So, what’s a veterinary practice owner or manager to do? By using available resources to help shoulder some of their workload, you can maximize your practice’s efficiency, even if you’re still operating with too few employees. Here are five ways you can overcome your staffing shortage by leveraging effective tools and resources.
#1: Use a practice app to automate tasks and reduce phone calls
If you don’t have a practice app yet, why not? Perhaps one of the most useful pieces of technology available for reducing phone calls and streamlining your workflows, a practice app can be just as good as a human employee. Depending on the app and platform you purchase, you can automate numerous tasks, or put the action in your clients’ hands. Examples of common tasks you can hand off to your app or clients include:
- Appointment scheduling and confirmation
- Health services and appointment reminders
- Prescription refill requests
- Virtual payments
- Curbside service check-in
- Vaccination history requests
Once you have a practice app up and running, you’ll probably be astounded at how much time you save.
#2: Hire an outside phone or triage service to handle client calls
Is your team so overwhelmed with phone calls that they can’t return messages before the end of the day? If so, consider sending some of those calls—or after-hours calls—to a company like GuardianVets. Such companies work remotely to help ease your staff’s workload and can perform the following tasks:
- Answer client questions
- Schedule appointments
- Refer emergencies
- Handle follow-up or postoperative calls
By employing an outside company, you’ll have another customer service representative on your team, although they won’t be in your hospital. Outsourcing some of your phone calls allows your in-clinic staff to focus on tasks that can only be performed in person and alleviates some of their stress and responsibilities.
#3: Leverage your team to the fullest extent of their abilities
Encourage your team members, particularly your veterinary technicians, to work to the fullest extent of their license. Instead of having your credentialed technicians enter medical records and file paperwork, ensure they’re performing tasks appropriate for their skill level. This frees up your veterinarians to perform doctor-only duties, while also reducing job dissatisfaction and staff turnover. However, you need to familiarize yourself with the duties vet techs are legally allowed to perform in your state and identify opportunities to make more use of their skills. When your team members are working to the fullest extent of their licensing and training, your entire practice becomes more efficient.
In addition, you can cross-train interested team members. For example, empower your assistants to do more than mop up urine puddles and weigh pets. Veterinary assistants can help technicians or veterinarians by learning how to restrain for blood draws, radiographs, nail trims, physical exams, and vaccination administration. You also can create a CSR assistant position, and this person can focus on entering medical records, answering phones, scheduling appointments, and helping check clients in and out.
#4: Apply technology to automate processes
Using technology to its fullest potential is another way to increase your practice’s efficiency. Various tools like VetSuccess, AVMA Direct Connect, and VitusVet can automate and streamline management and administrative processes, such as inventory control, vendor management and purchasing, accounting, and more. Telehealth platforms and services are also an invaluable feature that should not be ignored. Virtual appointments and messaging options support workflow and practice efficiency, and also provide opportunities for better client communication. Technology enables you to do far more in much less time and with less manpower, so take advantage of it.
#5: Outsource non-clinical tasks to other companies
After your practice has (finally) closed for the evening, does your team have to stay behind to sweep, mop, empty trash cans, and catch up on the never-ending mountain of laundry? If so, you’re contributing to burnout and job dissatisfaction. Your credentialed technicians did not go to school to be a janitor, and treating them as such can lead to unhappiness and resentment with their job situation. Instead, ensure your clinical staff performs only clinical duties, and outsource other tasks. For example, we provide janitorial and medical-grade laundry services to take that workload off your team’s shoulders. If you can find someone to take on non-veterinary-related jobs in your practice, you should jump at the chance and reserve your skilled employees for their specific roles.
In a nutshell, if you can’t find people to do the work, then find a way to take some of the work away from your people. Use technology to automate as many tasks and processes as possible, and outsource what duties you can to companies that have the necessary manpower. For relief staffing solutions, janitorial services, or medical-grade laundry services, contact our Veterinary System Services team for a quote.
Brad’s love for animals and exposure to working with them has come in many forms, and spanned decades. From volunteer work, that includes 5 years with the Denver Dumb Friends League, to countless hours being a victim for Search and Rescue dogs, or a chew toy for police dogs, he has a passion for working with animals. In college, Brad worked for a small, three-doctor practice cleaning kennels. Before starting VSS, he spent almost 10 years as an inventory manager for one of the state’s largest animal hospitals. He has seen this industry from many angles.