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Hello VSGD

There comes a point, when you need to stop wallowing in the doom or the doom eats you.

Veterinary 2021 is a little messed up. We know that. Let us not discuss it again. Instead, let’s attempt a fix.

Some months back, I had an idea. I lived with it for a month during which time I spent hours each day trying to convince myself it was a shocking idea. I failed.

Then I approached our Financial Director with a simple question, “Can we afford this?”. He listened. He nodded.

Next, I reached out to every grown up external contact I have within UK Veterinary. The Universities, my counterparts in the big grown up corporate world, Ebony @ VSGD, big grown up Vets not employed by ourselves. Anyone and everyone that I hoped would tell me I was wrong and that it wouldn’t work. They didn’t.

Last week I sat with all my Vets and I listened to them express heartfelt concern for the future. I agreed with every concern they raised. Then, with heart in mouth, I started talking.

The challenge is simply this. It’s fine to work hard but it has to come with a defined stop time each day and the day needs structure and time built into it to allow for, you know, eating, having a wee, working up a case correctly; that kind of stuff.

When we hire and plug a new vet into the diary, within 2 weeks the new diary replicates all the others and I haven’t solved the problem, I’ve just increased its intensity. It has become impossible to plug 6 or 7 new Vets into the diary simultaneously to flood the system with available appointments. What I really need, is two of everybody. So let’s do that.

We are going to give 6 of our recently graduated Vets their own associate. I am defining recently graduated as between 2 and 4 years. The associate will be a new grad that I am 87% convinced I can appoint in sufficient numbers. Each Vet will be heavily involved in the recruitment process and I anticipate the appointment of 6 culturally diverse new grads replicating our current culturally diverse team. Cultural diversity is healthy and creates a vibrant workplace.

For a 6 month period, My Vet and their associate will form a symbiotic relationship sharing a diary and a rota. History has taught me, that with tight and correct induction, within 3 weeks a new grad can successfully run a routine consult diary. Within 8 weeks a new grad can run (with support when required) a float diary.

Our float diary is simply a diary that opens at 8.30am with zero appointments and is used for the walking wounded that call in and need seeing at some point during the run of the day. Each appointment is booked for a minimum 20 minutes or 40 minutes if at point of booking it is clear bloods or similar will be required.

Plan becomes this. Each day, pre-rounds, Vet walks through with New Grad the diary and discusses anything that maybe tricky. New Grad at correct point following start and sharpening of day one skills, runs full diary knowing support is at hand at any point if required. End of day wash-up to look at what’s occurred.

I predict that within 1 month, I have given back to my current Vets a minimum 2 days a week of beautiful empty time. Time to return calls, study, join senior Vets in theatre to partake in a surgery that has sparked interest or wishes to learn, CPD, certificate study – anything that is productive and achieves a good, wholesome internal feeling. Within 2 months I predict the best part of 3 days is handed over for creative use.

Then 6 months in. The new grads are set free (or as free as we ever release a new grad). Over the 6 months they would have had considerable 1 on 1 time. External 3rd party support, support from the senior Vet team. The growth plan for each would have been staged, thoroughly thought through and not rushed. Confidence (that most delicate of skills) carefully nurtured.

And 6 months in, we flood the diary with available appointments. The input of so many ‘Vets 1’ produced heads simultaneously should (should) decrease overall pressure for all. And then 6 months later, we repeat.

Should? Hope? Maybe? Might work? Not sure? Risks?

Regardless, the doom is now dull and it is time to do something about it. If it doesn’t work, we will try something else. Then something else.

The first practice that works out how to fix the current problems gets the golden ticket and will strive forward.

If you are shortly to graduate, We want to talk to you. If you are a new grad already having accepted a job. We want to talk to you. If you are a new grad that has had a negative first 12 months in practice and want a clean start. We want to talk to you.

If you an experienced Vet and want to move into a practice that is brave enough to stand up and face the strange – then we would love to hear from you.

You can learn more about Vets 1 by clicking here: here

You can view the full job role here: here