Veterinary Team Solutions to Turnover!

October 15, 2016

This past week the buzz has been about veterinary team retention and turnover, but let’s talk SOLUTIONS!

What is your team's turnover?

What is your team’s turnover?

You may have read the AVMA’s article highlighting the NAVTA Demographic Survey explaining there is a problem in veterinary team turnover and retention. AAHA Trends magazine has an article titled, “Where are all the technicians?”  PLUS Dr. Andy Roark created a video on his Facebook page, viewed by 486, 048 (yes, THOUSAND), being shared 9,679 times!

Awesome! The veterinary community is wrapping its head around the importance in managing turnover, identifying burnout and compassion fatigue (HALLELUJAH!), but SOLUTIONS are what I am talking about.

In previous blogs you will find Tips on Retention and Cynthia’s great piece on the Hot Tech Market.

Today, let’s focus on a couple of challenges indicated in the NAVTA survey 1) lack of management and 2) being understaffed.

Lack of management

What does that mean, exactly, lack of management? Well, it is up for interpretation, so I am going to take a stab at it!

We know that AAHA veterinary hospitals require a practice manager in their accreditation process. That can mean that nearly 14% of US hospitals are “managed.”

Let’s consider VHMA statistics.  They currently have 2,792 members with 463 CVPMs (growing numbers!). I suspect a percentage of those certified in practice management are not working in veterinary practices. I can guess, 363 are managing in veterinary hospitals.

Even if we combine the 14% managers in AAHA hospitals and 363 CVPMs (which some could be managing in AAHA hospitals), we may reach 24%. There are a percentage of practices that are managed by individuals with an MBA or PHR/SPHR through SHRM (Society of Human Resource Managers). Maybe another 6%. I believe corporate ran hospitals may have practice managers, we can add another 9%. Maybe 40-45% of veterinary hospitals in the US employ an upper-management (practice manager) team member. Curious if this has been surveyed before, the percentage of veterinary hospitals in the US having a practice manager (upper management duties)?

If that is the case, with my rough calculations, then 55% of veterinary hospitals may be under-managed.

Solution, offer team members that have been given the title of office manager or lower level management duties, the tools for success in resources, networking, continuing education, and time to develop their leadership and management skills. Identify team members “in the middle,” still performing “technical duties,” and “management duties,” to become fully engaged in management. Create a job description for a practice manager, go through a formal hiring process, and set teams up for success with a skilled, leveraged, practice manager. Let’s not underestimate the important role of a practice manager in decreasing veterinary team turnover.

Being understaffed

This may be in direct correlation to being under-managed. Often times I step into veterinary hospitals and everyone is terribly “busy!” Well, are they simply busy (doing busy things) or are they being terribly productive? A practice manager’s role is to determine that. Is there a perception of being under staffed or is it the reality?

In the “busy-ness,” is a team meeting their hospital goals (generally maintained and tracked by a manager)? Is their doctor to team ratio operating at full capacity? Another question I get asked, “What is the best doctor to team ratio?” I have to ask, “How efficient is your team?” If one doctor and 6 team members are “hitting it out of the park” in regards to meeting and exceeding their financial goals, then that is a good ratio. If one doctor and 2 team members are meeting their goals and financial marks, then that ratio is working. The question is, “How effective and efficient is your team?”

There is no doubt, scheduling can be a nightmare! I know how difficult it can be to juggle schedules. Is being understaffed due to appointment load, surgery load, emergencies, increase in clients/patients, or something else? That is the role of management to determine.

Upon conducting an objective audit of the team’s efficiency and effectiveness, and it is determined the hospital is understaffed, then it is time to establish a hiring strategy to hire the precise team member needed (credentialed veterinary technician, veterinarian, reception, manager or assistant). Yet another Blog topic.

Solution to being understaffed, objectively determine the team members needed to fulfill hospital goals in quality care, client service, and sustainability (within the budget), then hire to meet those needs.

That’s what is on my mind, today. Feels good to get that off my chest. I’ve been brewing on those topics for a few years.

Yours in Veterinary Team Retention,

Rebecca Rose, CVT

Catalyst Veterinary Practice Consultants

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