Ignite your passion for practice with a little time off

Ignite your passion for practice with a little time off

Rekindle your love for veterinary medicine with time away from the job you love. Here are six steps to fan your flame
Nov 01, 2012

I asked myself the other day, what makes my job so enjoyable? Aside from the fact that I get to work with the animals I love, I have great co-workers, a facility I'm proud of, and a driven leader who pushes us to excellence. Lots of people have this. They work hard every day for long hours. And even though they love it, they burn out in a short period of time.

What else makes my workplace great? We work hard, we study hard, and we rest hard. That's what makes it great. We all work in an industry with an exceptionally high rate of burnout and staff turnover. In this climate, I work at a clinic where the tenure of the technicians and assistants exceeds five years. A place where some staff members' time exceeds 10, 11, 12—even 13 years.

This is not a case of, "I have to stay." It's because they want to stay. Why? Because our employer believes in an under-40-hour workweek for every employee—and guards it. We are in at 7:20 a.m. and out by 6 p.m. on our scheduled shifts, and lunch hours are a protected entity. But perhaps even more important, our employer—and consequently, the entire team—respects the day off.

We've all worked in places where our phone rings before dawn on that day of rest with questions about the previous shift or what's being done about this or that patient. We've experienced the frustration when team leaders resist our vacation requests. Of course, these same workplaces also seem to have a large number of "call outs"—team members calling in sick. Then you're called in on your day off. "It's OK," the boss says. "You'll get paid overtime." So in you go again, unrested, feeling undervalued and overworked.

It shouldn't be that way. We should all work in a practice that values rested team members. My practice does, and I'm sure yours does too—but some leaders simply don't know how to make it happen. And even if they know something has to give, they have no idea how to get there.

So how do you get to a rested team? Whether you're a manager or team member, use these steps to fire up your team with a healthier work schedule that heats their passion for practice—and life.