Out with the old, in with the new - Veterinary Practice
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Out with the old, in with the new

It’s that time of the year again when you may have made all kinds of resolutions for the forthcoming year. These are often centred on giving up things, or doing less of something; stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption or losing weight often come under the spotlight. Our New Year’s resolutions are often focused on our personal life rather than our working life, and on doing less, rather than more of something.

We probably spend more of our working week in front of our colleagues or clients than we do with our families, or even ourselves. And how was last year for you, workwise? Did you find life sometimes just happened to you rather than feeling in control and in the driving seat? Did you spend too much of your time at work overwhelmed and under pressure? This seems to be a common feeling among colleagues. Never have so many had so much to do, in such little time! It’s unsurprising, when one considers the pressures we face, compared to the way we worked 10 or 20 years ago. If only we could find a way of increasing the number of hours in the day, although I fear we would find ways of filling that extra time and adding more to the pressure and stress.

So, what about changing the way in which we conduct ourselves at work? “It’s not me,” I hear you say, “it’s the demands from my work colleagues and clients that cause pressure and stress.”

The fact is, you cannot directly change others – neither their character nor their behaviour, but by changing your behaviour, you can indirectly change that of others and reduce stress and pressure for all concerned.

Put positive actions in place

How about a New Year’s resolution to put in place positive actions, aimed at changing your behaviour to reduce your personal levels of stress and pressure and of those around you? There are two distinct groups of individuals we interrelate with at work: our clients and the rest of our team. How challenging do you find your relationships with clients? How do you feel at the end of a consulting session? Do you finish those sessions on time?

Do you feel you have addressed your clients’ concerns, or managed their expectations in that 10 to 15 minutes? Do you feel fresh and ready to move on to the next task after the waiting room has cleared?

My guess is the average vet in practice spends most of their time in front of clients in the consulting room. It’s no wonder that, given only a few minutes with each one and with no breaks, we feel rushed, run behind, finish late and feel pressured or stressed.

We can’t stand back and admire our work; there’s that client to phone with those inconclusive results, another client who has just given your receptionist grief after being told he can’t have a repeat prescription for a pet which hasn’t been seen for over seven months, oh and there’s the op list to tackle and that visit to do! And what about your relationship with that receptionist, your nurses, the other vets in the practice, management? Is there a good working relationship? Do you all support each other?

It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution to develop yourself as an individual and to take positive steps to ensure you end this year in a better place, in being able to cope with pressure in the consulting room and among workmates. Say goodbye to 2017 and embrace 2018 with a positive attitude and a clean slate.

Make time to ask yourself what you want to achieve this year. Be proactive, not reactive, and end the year in a better place than you exited the last one.

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