The Top 5 Reasons We Keep Coming Back to Your Clinic
Our job title says it all: relief veterinarians serve to relieve you and your practice so you can take important time for medical leave, family events, or simply your own mental health. Of course, you won’t just hire anyone, so you look for a relief doctor who is compassionate, competent, and efficient—someone you can trust to take care of your business while you’re away. As relief vets, many of us are choosy about where we work, too. With veterinarian shortages throughout the country capped with the COVID crisis causing scant staffing, relief vets are busier than ever. Naturally, we’re choosing to return to practices that share our values and opting out of ones that may not suit our needs. Wonder what keeps us coming back for more? Here are some of our top priorities:
#1. Excellent standard of patient care, accompanied by up-to-date protocols, adequate inventory, and reliable equipment.
Newsflash: our standards aren’t lowered simply because we do relief work. In fact, since most of us practice in a variety of hospital settings, we have the advantage of witnessing the multiple ways veterinarians provide care, leading many of us to strive for the absolute best. From detailed surgical protocols, to sufficient inventory, to quality equipment, a dependable infrastructure helps us do our job well. We love working at practices that update their guidelines and recommendations based on the newest research and being able to send patients home with appropriate medications directly from your pharmacy is a huge plus. If it’s clear your patient care is top-notch, you’re likely at the top of our list, too.
#2. Sufficient and skilled staff.
We can’t say enough about the importance of well-trained, flexible, and friendly support staff.
We appreciate it when your team exhibits excellent animal handling skills along with the ability to communicate with clients regarding estimates and basic patient care. In our eyes, an awesome support team is not only pleasant to be around, but paramount to the overall workflow and practice efficiency. After all, you don’t want to hire us to spend the day doing nail trims and blood draws, do you? Like you, we value productivity, so when we come to work for
you, we strive to fulfill our role as a doctor—seeing and treating patients. As one relief veterinarian said, “I don’t mind being an overpaid tech, but it’s nicer to feel like I am making the clinic money instead of being a one-man show.”
#3. Positive work environment.
You know that feeling you get when you walk into work and your colleagues smile and offer a friendly, “hello?” We love that. We get that feel-good vibe when we work at a practice that values kindness and positivity. To us, camaraderie and teamwork go hand-in-hand, so we like to see staff that is not only friendly toward us but toward their co-workers, too. Encouraging and engaging in a positive, interactive working environment does wonders for the attitude and boosts morale. Moreover, whether we are older, seasoned doctors, or fresh out of veterinary school, relief vets want to be viewed as capable and valued, not just another “fill-in.” When you make us feel welcomed and show appreciation for our work, we’ll be eager to return.
#4. Appropriate patient scheduling.
It’s not uncommon for relief veterinarians to walk into an overbooked schedule. While we understand—and encourage—your need to fill appointment slots, double- or even triple-booking us sets everyone up for failure. When we don’t have adequate time to triage, examine, diagnose, and treat our patients, our ability to offer an excellent standard of care suffers—along with your practice’s reputation. Don’t get us wrong, we love the hustle and bustle of a busy day, but not at the expense of doing our job well and upholding your hospital’s credibility. Keep our schedule steady (not swamped) and we’ll be back in no time.
#5. Prompt and correct compensation.
You know what’s really hard? Working relief for an outstanding practice that provides amazing patient care, curates a skilled team, and appreciates your hard work, only to find out they neglect to pay you on time—or at all. As relief veterinarians, we love what we do but, like most working people, we won’t do it for free. Additionally, most of us take a lot of time and consideration into our fees, factoring in expenses for health insurance, travel, taxes, and continuing education—all things we have to pay for out of pocket. So, unless we’ve opened the door for negotiation, please don’t ask us to reduce our fee. It’s no secret that good, timely compensation goes in unison with a great work ethic, so help us get back to providing you with excellent services by paying us punctually.
While these are our top reasons we love coming to work for you, our runners-up are as follows:
● Good record-keeping - We can’t properly follow up on cases without it.
● Adequate pain management - We can’t offer excellent patient care without it.
● Proximity - The closer to home you are, the better.
● COVID protocol - From curbside services to mask requirements, your COVID rules matter to us.
If you have regular relief veterinarians that frequent your practice, it’s probably a good sign. While we can’t speak for all of us, many “prn” vets can afford to be choosy when it comes to selecting practices to work for—and we come back for a reason. Remember, we’re here to serve you—so help us help you!
Jane Costa, DVM
Relief Veterinarian, Veterinary Writer & Editor