Is the doctor stealing part of your job? Take it back!

Is the doctor stealing part of your job? Take it back!

Your veterinarian didn't go to school to learn to be a technician, receptionist, or practice manager, so don't let her act like one. Make her do her job--so you can do yours.
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Feb 01, 2006


Craig Woloshyn
Sometimes just watching your boss work wears you out. One second she's drawing blood, the next she's in the lab looking at samples under the microscope. Blink again and she's changing a bandage or removing sutures.

If you work for one of these Wonder Women (or Supermen)—a doctor who begins the day answering phones and ends it mopping floors—you need to intervene. When the doctor tries to do everything it isn't just inefficient, it's downright boring for everyone else! Every time an interesting task crops up, she handles it before you can shout, "abscess incoming!"


Delegate Smarter

For your sanity and the health of the patients and the clinic, you need to take over the tasks your doctor performs that don't require a medical degree. The doctor's time is too valuable to spend on anything besides her essential duties—diagnosing, prescribing, performing surgery, and charting. And anyway, why should she have all of the fun?

Let's examine six tasks that are better suited to team members and look at ways to wrestle some of these responsibilities back from the doctor.

1. Primary patient care

A surprising amount of confusion exists about the difference between treatment plans and patient care. Treatment plans result from the thinking the doctor does after consulting her lab results and a crystal ball. Patient care is the delivery of treatment—placing catheters, giving injections, bandaging, offering pet hygiene, and so on. Ideally, a registered technician supervises this area and assistants assist her. (You thought veterinary assistants were doctors' assistants, didn't you. Nope. They're technicians' assistants.)


What to say to get your way
Too often doctors restrain patients, draw blood, place catheters, and remove sutures, instead of charting, examining patients, and performing research. From the time the client and patient walk through the door until they leave, team members are the ones who translate the doctor's orders into patient care. This leaves the doctor with more time to do her work—and maybe even grab a lunch.

2. Scheduling appointments

Scheduling should be a conspiracy between front- and back-office team members. Receptionists need the doctor's input initially to define the amount of time each procedure takes, but after that they can handle the scheduling just fine without a bunch of kibitzing. If receptionists have questions about scheduling an unusual procedure, they'll ask the technicians—they know everything.

What about the scheduling bumps that constantly crop up? No problem. You'll work with the rest of your team to set and adjust the schedule and maximize the doctor's time. Just don't let the doctor fiddle with the appointment book. Remind her that it's your job to fill the exam rooms and it's her job to enter these exam rooms and look intelligent.

3. Collecting samples and restraining patients

I find the number of injuries that occur in veterinary practices distressing, and many occur when we're restraining that cheeky Chihuahua or frenzied feline. That's why senior technicians must work closely with doctors to set protocols that address the realities of restraining both your friendliest and your most intensely violent patients.