The multitalented relief veterinarian
A visiting doctor can be more than a fill-in. Use the veterinary professional in other roles, from telehealth adviser to house call provider.
At about 4 years old, my niece was looking at one of those small collapsible tables that you set up near the TV so you can simultaneously eat and binge-watch the latest addictive series. When the small wooden bar under the table is pulled, the legs convert from a straight line to a stable “X” shape. My niece was fascinated as she watched my dad morph the wooden plank into a table, but her mind didn’t stop there. I could see the wheels turning in her head, and before my dad had a chance to load the table with edibles, my niece turned the whole thing over so that the tabletop was on the floor and the legs rose into the air, making a nice “V” shape that looked a lot like a baby’s crib to her. Satisfied, she grabbed soft pink blankets and laid her plastic baby down for a nap.
The human mind has the wonderful ability to rearrange and reinvent, see patterns and purpose, and recycle, broaden and adapt resources to suit new scenarios. Our world is full of these examples, and veterinarians are no strangers to repurposing things — IV fluid bag bandage covers, anyone?
With the veterinary industry constantly evolving and our client base looking for new ways to connect and receive services from us, we must keep our minds open to novel ways of looking at our resources. We’re rethinking the modalities and value of virtual connections, reevaluating pet owners’ in-clinic experiences, and streamlining processes to accommodate the ever-growing demand for veterinary services.
Here’s another resource you might want to rethink: relief veterinarians. These professional business-to-business service providers have a wealth of skills, insights and perspectives that can be utilized to increase your practice revenue and lighten your workload.
Consider these seven ways to put relief veterinarians to work for you.
1. Telehealth Adviser
Maybe you’ve added telehealth to your service offerings but find squeezing those calls in between appointments to be difficult. Or perhaps you haven’t added telehealth yet. Either way, relief veterinarians can help.
If you’re utilizing a telehealth platform, train your relief doctors to take some of the call burden off your shoulders, either during or after business hours. They can act as personal representatives of your clinic, strengthening the bond between your clients and practice, and driving revenue into your hospital.
If you want to start a telehealth service, let your relief veterinarian research it and set it up. You in turn will offer a highly desired client service without having to add work to your busy schedule.
2. Focused Expert
Relief veterinarians are diversified in their areas of special interests and expertise. Many of them have received extra training in dentistry, behavior, nutrition, rehabilitation or acupuncture, just to name a few.
Interviewing relief veterinarians to find out how they can help expand your practice’s service offerings can be a good investment. You will identify ways to increase revenue and keep your clients from searching for specialists outside of your hospital. Setting up those veterinary appointments, either virtually or in person, and creating a revenue-sharing model with the relief veterinarian will be a quadruple win — for your practice, clients, their pets and the relief doctor.
3. House Call Provider
Busy practices often don’t have time for house calls even though the service can be highly desired. Relief veterinarians can both help retain clients who want or need a veterinarian at their home and facilitate in-clinic care. Offering the service could expand your client base and bring new cases into the clinic for treatments and diagnostics.
By virtue of working with so many practices, relief veterinarians learn about many products and services. Taking the time on your own to research the products and services that make the most sense for your practice can lead to decisions being delayed or done rashly.
Hire a relief veterinarian to look into these types of investments. The person probably has experience with the products or services you are considering and can provide you with a veterinarian’s perspective.
Relief veterinarians are keen observers of workflow, and we see many practices struggle and bottleneck in the same places. But we also see some elegant practice solutions that could be replicated, refined or repurposed to benefit other clinics.
Engage your relief veterinarian to brainstorm solutions for improving and maximizing productivity. A sensible workflow in which all team members are valued and utilized to their potential improves staff morale, contributes to a positive culture and boosts your bottom line.
Have you hired a new grad but then found the volume of appointments, drop-offs, work-ins and surgeries to be too crazy for you to carve out time to mentor the person? Mentoring is an excellent long-term investment for retaining employees, increasing productivity and ensuring long-term career satisfaction.
Talk to your trusted relief veterinarian about serving as a mentor to your newly minted associate. The focused attention and support can be accomplished virtually and at the practice, and it will be well worth the investment when you quickly have a confident, satisfied associate.
7. Relief Clinician
Covering shifts at your practice, whether it’s because you’re busier than usual, going on vacation, attending a conference or taking maternity leave, is still a relief veterinarian’s main value to you. We are here to serve your practice by providing medical expertise, supporting the client bond and generating revenue. We remain an important resource to help you confidently step away from your clinical work.
Let your mind wander back to its childlike state where creativity and curiosity are the norms. Engaging in this mindset will help you look at your business and resources in a new light, and you might uncover value in previously unrecognized places.
Take a good look at relief veterinarians, and consider letting them propel your practice to the next level.
VetPartners member Dr. Cindy Trice is the founder of Relief Rover.