Sometimes the inevitable happens and one of your team members calls out sick. DON’T PANIC! While there are a lot of things that will be a little more challenging throughout the day, there a few things you can do to help your day at the clinic go by a little smoother – despite your lack of staff for the day.

Tip #1: Play to Your Current Team’s Strengths

If you’re a doctor and the only other person helping to manage your practice is a veterinary technician, leverage what they’re good at to help make the day go by a little bit faster! They may have a knack for updating information into your practice management system or at handling troublesome animals.

If these things aren’t your forte, try your best to rely on your other teammates for these tasks. Working together as a team to divide and bigger tasks can help make tough days go by a little smoother.

Tip #2: Prioritize Your Appointments

This may differ from clinic to clinic, but organizing the day’s appointments ahead of time in a way that maximizes the time each veterinarian spends with each patient is crucial for customer success, staff efficiency, and for optimal treatment of our patients.

If you know you’re performing a surgery that day, leave ample time before and after for easier appointments, such as wellness exams. That way, you can use those less hectic appointments for a little bit of downtime.

This will also require some training with your scheduling team. Develop processes that work uniquely for your vet practice and with your team.

Tip #3: Block Off Time for Emergency Appointments

When planning out appointments for the day, it’s always important to block off a couple of hours throughout the day for urgent-care situations. You don’t necessarily have to set a whole two-hour section out from your day since that would be extremely inefficient. Instead, have a couple sections of 30-minute blocks throughout the day dedicated for any emergencies that may arise.

In the event that no urgent care appointments or calls come in, this gives you and your staff the opportunity to catch up on work and use that time to figure out how to make the rest of the day go by even more efficiently.

Tip #4: Automate Inefficient or Time-Consuming Processes

It’s difficult to value the specific tasks that you do in a veterinary hospital, as every task is important in the big picture. However, there may be certain tasks that take up a lot of time that might not be as valuable in that specific moment.

For example, if your vet technician needs to take an hour out of their day to make reminder calls for the appointments taking place the next day, that is something that’s extremely valuable to decrease no-shows. However, this task could definitely be automated to free up their time to work on more valuable tasks around the clinic, such as helping patients throughout the day.

Automating your reminder calls and confirmation processes is an easy way for you to optimize your team’s time and energy to help you out on days when you’re short a set of hands.

Tip #5: Show Your Staff You’re Appreciative of Their Hard Work

A simple, “Thank you for your hard work today.” can go a long way with your team. Genuinely show your team that you care. On days that you’re swamped, do little things to show them that you’re thinking of them as people. Block off some time to eat lunch with them, order food as a thank you present, or bring them coffee as your treat the next day.

Your clinic would not function properly without your team – show them that you care about them and are thankful for the work that they do. The next time there’s a tough day in your practice, they’ll know that you as a doctor value everything they do for the business.

Crazy days happen and it’s important to set your hospital for success for the days that you may end up short staffed. Implement these few steps and you’ll be working through your short-staffed days in a breeze.