3 Ways to Save Time During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Being a veterinary professional means a certain daily stress load and a lack of time for self-care. Then COVID-19 hit, and your imperfectly balanced time management strategy fell apart completely. Worrying about your family and team's health, your own mental health, if your business will withstand this crisis, and how to navigate ever-changing policies might leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Stop, take a couple deep breaths, and read on. By starting small and instituting these three ways to make more time in your day, you can refocus and get back on track — even in the midst of the pandemic.
1. Take Advantage of Telemedicine Technology
Telemedicine, which had gained a small foothold in veterinary medicine prior to the pandemic, has become a critical tool for many practices. Veterinarians are quickly learning how to grasp new technology they previously put off learning. Now could be the right time for your practice.
Instead of tackling this task on your own, select a trusted team member to research telemedicine providers and report back to you with the three best options. Instruct them to learn how to set up and use the service and then give you a quick rundown to get started. Refer to current American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) resources regarding VCPR guidelines — many states have temporarily adjusted their policies regarding the necessity of in-person exams.
2. Take Advantage of Existing Protocols
Figuring out how and when to see patients is time-consuming, especially when deciding which patients require essential veterinary care, screening clients for illness, and determining how much personal protective equipment is necessary for staff. A lot of time can be wasted discussing how to approach each individual appointment.
Instead of improvising, leverage appointment protocols or flowcharts published by the AVMA and Clinician's Brief to help your team make quick decisions. Adjust them as necessary to fit your needs, and appoint team members to fulfill specific roles (e.g., taking telephone histories, collecting patients from vehicles) for the day's appointments, so your time isn't spent deciding who will do what for each patient.
3. Stay Informed on CE
When the world is changing quickly and stress levels are at an all-time high, worrying about fulfilling your continuing education (CE) requirements may be a tipping point. Not to worry: Many state licensing boards have adjusted CE requirements. Some states have extended their deadline for CE submission and/or license renewal, whereas others have suspended CE credits until the crisis passes. Many states are allowing all CE to be completed online, instead of limiting the number of online hours. Check with the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' latest updates to see how your state is handling CE requirements. Take the CE worry off your plate until this passes, and you'll free up the time (and the mental capacity) to take care of more pressing concerns right now.
Time management is a never-ending, evolving process, and the current turmoil has certainly thrown a wrench into everyone's strategies. But while you're taking care of your practice, don't put yourself on the back burner. By simplifying your usual tasks, you can make more time in your day to care for your most important asset: yourself.