Covid cases are surging across the US, driving many Americans to stay at home with their pets. Adoptions are up, and furry family members are getting more attention than ever before. So it’s no surprise that animal hospitals have been busier than ever this fall.
The surge in demand has led many practice owners to consider bringing on relief veterinarians. Relief vets can help hospitals expand appointment hours, or give current staff a much-needed break. But some practices – rightfully – are hesitant to allow relief docs into their hospitals during the pandemic, lest they increase risk – for both permanent staff and the relief doc.
Now more than ever, it’s important to carefully weigh your options when hiring a relief doctor. Here are 5 things to consider when bringing on a relief vet during Covid.
1. Your relief doc’s Covid safety protocols
This is one of the most important items to consider. Ask your doctor about their Covid protocols, and ensure they’re following the CDC’s guidelines, as well as the AVMA’s minimum standards for operational protocols. This includes PPE, social distancing, and regular cleaning/sanitizing of exam rooms and workspaces.
IndeVets Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marisa Brunetti developed our recommended protocols, which include all of the above, plus daily temperature checks of our doctors and fully transparent communication protocols to partner hospitals. You can read and download our full protocols here.
2. Your own Covid safety protocols
Your relief doc will likely ask about your hospital’s protocols, so this might be a good time to review policies and make sure all staff are aligned. At IndeVets, we value the safety of our doctors greatly, which means we only partner with hospitals who share our clinical and safety standards.
Welcoming a new doc to your practice is also a good opportunity to assess currents ways of working, and look for areas to improve. Make it easy for your relief vet! Some tips for improving efficiency during Covid include giving each staff member a dedicated role, setting up dedicated phone lines to deal with increased call volume, simplifying payments and more. For more tips, check our Dr. Brunetti’s Recommendations for Safe, Efficient, Curbside Care.
3. Personality and bedside manner
It’s a stressful time to work in vet med. Covid fears are very real, and doctors, support staff and pet owners alike may be feeling a bit on edge. So there’s value to bringing on a relief doctor who is also a patient, cooperative, and kind clinician, who will get along great with your staff and clients.
At IndeVets, our doctors all go through personality assessments and face-to-face interviews. We have a strict no-jerk rule! Remember: a relief vet is there to help, and a helpful doc is both clinically strong AND agreeable.
4. Consider flexible staffing instead of traditional relief.
At IndeVets, we offer flexible staffing. It’s like relief work – but more consistent and more reliable. As any practice manager who’s worked with relief vets knows – finding a relief vet can be an inconsistent experience, that often involves scrambling to find an available doc – who you may or may not know personally, and who may or may not share your team’s clinical standards.
Flexible staffing eliminates the guesswork by providing access to a team of doctors who are extensively vetted and held to high medical standards. At IndeVets, all our doctors – and hospital partners – must conform to IndeVets’ strict Covid protocols, which prioritize safety over all else. And finding a doc is less stress-inducing with our propriety app, which allows hospitals to post shifts and obtain coverage with a few clicks.
To learn more about the differences between flexible staffing and relief work, check out our blog post on when to use flexible staffing over relief.
5. Your patients need you!
The pandemic has not erased the need for care. Pets owners are still relying on us to keep their furry friends healthy and safe. In some cases, flexible staffing (or relief work) is the key to meeting demand and ensuring all patients can get seen.
With a little care and consideration, this can be an effective way to staff your hospital, while keeping both clients and staff safe and protected.
Kate Bracaglia is Senior Marketing Manager at IndeVets.