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Reimagining Our Lives How to Use the Challenges Presented to Move Your Practice Forward

In many ways, the pandemic and 2020 has been an absolute nightmare. However, I take heart that there are some really amazing things to come from it, and we can and will find ways to innovate to move our profession forward. I’m talking about ways to capitalize on the changes that have happened ad make positive movement toward our big goals.

When we recorded the podcast with Dr. Olivia James about her experiences niching down to a specialty dental practice, and dentistry training provider, we talked about looking at her family’s needs as she redesigned her practice from a hospital-based practice to a completely different model. Sometimes we have to get intentional about change and the boundaries we want to set. Sometimes change happens more subtly and one day you wake up and realize the world changed for the better. During the recording, I was mortified that my 2-year-old son busted in demanding snacks and laughing, my husband chasing him down. If you haven’t seen this clip, check it out here for your weekly dose of funny. Before the pandemic, this would have been perceived as incredibly unprofessional. Now, there’s been a shift, because we all realize how interwoven our families are with our regular lives, and this year especially, we need places of work and colleagues who understand we all have pets, people, and interests outside of work that matter to us, where before many places of work required a “leave your personal self at home.” Olivia laughed off the incident with my son, handling it like a mom, with complete grace, humor, and empathy. I posted the clip with my friends on social, and they shared side splitting stories of Zoom bombs, pandemic pet and kid fails, and we all agreed we were in this same boat of having our work life and personal life collide, normalizing the experience of having a personal life.

Why is this incident and conversation about intentional and societal shifts important to talk about in a software blog? So glad you asked. As leaders, either as practice owners or associates, we can make intentional change that betters our workplace. In a previous blog, we talked about setting aside time to create space for this in your practice (dream and do time). One example might be in tackling the issue of staff satisfaction/wellness by talking to your staff about creating norms of leaving on time or assigning a rotating team that can stay late allowing everyone else to leave on time. This may well be a happy change for your staff and represents one way you can lead change in your practice. In many practices pre-2020, introducing this idea would have been like pushing a big boulder up a steep hill and required some serious chutzpa to accomplish a change of culture, especially if you didn’t own the practice. This year though, something has shifted in our views societally, and a change like this could be monumentally easier.

What I’m suggesting is combining changes we want with with the shifts we see in expectations and norms in our clients and society to make change a lot faster and less arduous. These represent situations where 1+1 doesn’t equal 2, 1 +1 actually equals 4 because of the synergies and lower threshold for change. Whew, I like the sounds of an easy workplace or client culture change, don’t you?

How can we capitalize on the shifts that are happening around us to make our practices more efficient? What are the new norms? A solo practitioner friend shared that she’d cut back her practice to mornings only so she could homeschool, work, and not fall apart. Now that her kids are back in school, she actually found she billed almost as much in half a day as she did during her previous full days. She’s not going back to working full days!! Are clients more used to Zoom calls now? The rise of telemedicine has created a scenario where we are all getting used to curbside medicine at the dentist, small animal vet, and more. Maybe some check-ups could continue to be done via Zoom, or with a technician via Zoom 1-2 afternoons a week. Virtual Assistant companies are springing up in the vet space to help leverage part time help for solo practices, some with credentialed veterinary technicians available to assist with medical questions for clients.

Before you think, “Those examples would NEVER work in our practice,” ask yourself first, “What am I missing out on if I don’t think about the possibilities?” Here’s a series of questions to walk you through the process:

  • What things have I or my clients adopted since the pandemic? New tech, new “normals,” ideas, options are some categories.
    • Eg., People are less hesitant to use new tech, esp in my clientele. Even my older clients are adept at using Zoom!
  • What behaviours have changed for the better since the pandemic?
    • Eg., People seem to understand that we have to use tech, and new protocols are required to keep everyone safe.
  • What big crazy idea do I have for my life, work/life integration, or practice?
    • Eg., I want to automate as many processes in my solo practice as possible so I can spend less than 0 hours a week doing admin work.
  • Are there ways I can capitalize on these new norms to move me closer to my wild and crazy idea?
    • Eg., I could trial out auto-invoicing and autopay with my clients this month, as well as standard instructions for aftercare (colic, joint injections etc) to auto-send from my software when I invoice it. I want to auto-order medications based on my invoicing. I’ll set aside an afternoon to set it up, and make sure I have support to launch it.

What do you think? Where have you seen this work in your practice or life?

Dr. Melanie Barham, Host of The Better Equine Vet Practice


About the Podcast

This Podcast is designed for any member of your Team and anyone who wants to improve their practice efficiency and have more time for the things they care about. All members of your veterinary team are personally invited! We will continue to notify you as a valued member of our HVMS family whenever a podcast comes out so you can be first to know. Share with your team, discuss at a staff meeting, or just listen wherever you are!

Interested in being a guest in an upcoming episode? Please contact us

About the Host

Dr. Melanie Barham is a veterinarian, FEI veterinary delegate, entrepreneur, digital marketer and university instructor. With a background in eventing and performance horse practice in the US and Canada, Dr Barham currently dedicates her career efforts to the Ontario Animal Health Network, Global Veterinary Career Summit and strategic business consulting.

Interested in being a guest in an upcoming episode? Please contact us