Our profession has made a big push towards work-life balance, which desperately needs to be addressed. The biggest factor many veterinarians are struggling with is getting out on time. This industry is so emotionally draining that being able to depart work on time is important.
However, we often see veterinarians stuck at the hospital, running late on appointments and completing their records. While the technicians may be out the door, veterinarians are typing away or getting their daily dose of hand cramps with handwritten records. This is after the overloaded full day of appointments.
As type A personalities we need to make sure that not only are our patients taken care with the highest level of care, but our records are 100% complete. We all know that if it isn’t written down, it never happened. Many veterinarians recall this statement being a pivotal point in their career creating a higher demand for completed medical records.
The big questions we face are: How do we get out on time without being stressed out? And how do we get our medical records 100% completed quickly and efficiently?
If you are struggling to get out on time due to the overload of appointments and getting your records completed on time, here are 4 tips to help you work more efficiently.
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Tip #1: Prioritize the day
When we talk about prioritizing your day, we talk about deciding what is important in that moment. This will never be the same day to day, hospital to hospital, or even technician to technician. It is something that you as a Veterinarian, a leader in the hospital, have to understand and take into your own hands.
Read the room, evaluate the situation, and come up with the plan.
If your technicians are fully capable of grabbing the heartworm test or running the ear cytology, then let them do it. If they can complete the technical tasks the that leaves you available to continue to move the rooms and complete your records.
If you are completely caught up with rooms and medical records but the staff is behind, jump in and help. Remember if your technicians get behind, the result will be the veterinarian getting behind.
While no one day will look the same, every day you must evaluate the day, staff, and the schedule. Prioritizing your time will help move the day.
On top of this always remember while socializing and getting to the know the staff is important, it is more beneficial to your own work-life balance to complete your work so you can get out on time. If they are discussing the next episode of the best show on TV it isn’t always ideal to stick around and join. These little bits during your day can push your day back to where you may not get out on time due to it.
Tip #2: Delegate!
Another one of these tips will help guide you through the day is delegating. This will save you. If you have trouble with delegating and feel you don’t come off correctly, always remember that it isn’t what you say, but how you say it. This goes with anything in life but especially in a veterinary hospital. If you say it correctly the others won’t feel like you are unloading your job onto them.
When you need to get your medical notes done, but someone needs to get the history in the next room you are prioritizing your day and delegating the history of the patient in the room so you can complete your medical notes.
When we use delegation remember it isn’t what we say, but how we say it. Sometimes asking instead of telling or thanking them for doing it can come off much better and goes a long way.
What this means is that is if you need them to get the pet’s heartworm test or full blood work, saying “Do you mind getting Fluffy’s blood work for me? Thank you so much…” instead of “Fluffy needs blood work,” and handing them a needle.
Delegating a lot of your tasks will help you and the staff get out on time. This is so you can focus solely on your medical duties and medical records. If those two things are not completed it can make for a long night.
More from Dr. Botinas: Setting boundaries in vet med: Lessons from Disney’s Encanto
Tip #3: Use pre-written medical records
Now the biggest part of getting out on time is completing your medical records in an appropriate amount of time. There are two things you can do to ensure your medical records are completed and finished quickly: Prewriting your medical records and making sure you have a check list ensuring they are completed.
When you are seeing 20 pets a day writing all those medical records can be time consuming, stressful, and truthfully overwhelming.
How can you make the medical record process quick, complete, and efficient?
Start with pre-written records. This will move your day along quickly and cut your medical record time in half.
While some veterinarians are at a hospital daily it can be easy to save your pre-written records on the hospital computers. Other veterinarians go from hospital to hospital so they don’t have the opportunity to save them on a hospital computer. The best way to transport them is either in a cheap thumb drive or save it to the cloud.
What should you have written up?
The short answer is as much as possible.
For your subjective having questions already typed up for the technicians prior to them obtaining the history will help ensure they collect the appropriate information.
For your objective having a detailed normal so all you have to do is edit it and tailor it to the pet will help you save time instead of writing out all the systems.
For client education writing up the most common things you talk about and recommendations and then you can quickly edit them as you see fit for that pet.
One way to help these pre-written records benefit your day, is as soon as the client check in you quickly copy and paste everything in. That way the technicians can see what you want to discuss and ask the client and above all you have the availability to edit the record on every computer.
Remember while this isn’t always going to be the same you can get the framework completed even prior to stepping foot into the exam room.
Tip #4: Create a checklist
While having pre-written records is great and can definitely move the day, the question becomes how can you determine if the records are completed? When should you sign off on them?
A routine checklist can help you confirm that your records can be signed off on and you don’t have to go back and edit them.
What does this include?
- Making sure your vitals are completed
- Making sure you have a completed good history
- Detailing your objective
- Confirming your differentials are listed
- Making sure your communication is complete
If you have these 5 items checked off, you can ensure that the majority of the time you won’t miss something and everything you discussed will be in your record.
Work-life balance it important in any field and with our field being high stress we all need the time away from the job to recharge. Your time at home is valuable and if you continue to be efficient and complete for the time you are to be present in the hospital you will be able to leave on time.
Not every day will go according to plan, not every day will you be able to leave on time, but when the majority of your days are, you will gain the balance you need in your life.
Dr. Maria Botinas is IndeVets Area Medical Director for Florida.
More from IndeVets:
3 tips for making the absolute worst totally tolerable (or: how to deal with the metaphorical “nail trimmings” of life)
Taking time for self-care: One veterinarian’s journey
How I balance vet life and mom life