Work/Life Balance

Setting Boundaries
With the advent of emergency clinics and the end of being on-call comes the rise of text messaging and emails. Email and texts are a quick, efficient way to communicate with clients, particularly the millennials and younger. However, these forms of communication can soon make you feel like you are back on call. How often does a client text or email on a Sunday afternoon? Many clients have high expectations and, unfortunately, with numerous other clinics within a small radius, retaining the “A” clients may make you feel like a personal on-call veterinarian.

How do you set boundaries without losing the good clients who love you?

Delegate, delegate, delegate
Although the client usually wants your opinion, that doesn’t mean it has to come directly from you. Develop several email addresses for your team – reception, technicians, and a general doctor email. The receptionist and technicians likely know what you would say, and can respond per your usual recommendations. The doctor email goes to whoever is working that day who can give medical advice as to if the pet can wait until you are in or if they should see someone else.

Charge for it
If your high maintenance clients are also the ones who would spend the money on almost anything, start a small email/text consultation fee. Many online answer services exist and charge money. If they want your (and only your) opinion, make it worth your time. If they don’t want to pay, you can delegate during regular business hours.

Just say no!
Auto replies are nice – set up an automatic reply that says emails will be handled during regular business hours. Alternatively, an answering service can be utilized to get the important emails through to you.

Additional resources:
Learn to say no and set boundaries – DVM360
The Challenging Client: Setting Boundaries & Showing Compassion – Veterinary Team Brief
Women in Veterinary Medicine: Searching for Boundaries – Halow Tassava Veterinary Business Consultants
Finding Balance: Overcoming the State of Overwhelm – Today’s Veterinary Practice
Work-life Balance? – Wisconsin VMA
Reading List: Work-Life Balance – AVMA
Tips for women on work-life balance – DVM360
Give your working moms control over their schedules – DVM360