Creative planning can be a powerful tool for hiring and retention practices for veterinarians and other staff, while social media can be a way to showcase a practice to help recruit potential employees.
Dr. Tannetje’ Crocker spoke about “Creative Scheduling in Your Practice” on July 30 at the 2022 AVMA convention in Philadelphia. She was then joined by Nicole Scott-Jones for the “Short-Staffed? Solution: social media!”
In a poll conducted by Dr. Crocker of more than 1,000 people on Instagram, about 80% indicated that a flexible schedule is important to them when looking for a job in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Crocker herself has worked as an equine outpatient veterinarian, small animal general practitioner, and now a small animal emergency veterinarian in Dallas. She also has two small children.
Prior to joining general small animal medicine, she worked as a relief veterinarian. When she came home each evening, she pushed food in front of her children, threw them in the bath, and put them to bed. It was really discouraging. Then the two veterinarians who own the small animal practice wanted her to come on board full time. She agreed, on the condition that she could work a different schedule than hers — or theirs.
The practice received patients by appointment only, with a two-hour lunch break. Dr. Crocker offered a schedule for using the surgery room when the other vets were in appointments and for using the appointment rooms during lunch break. She worked 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. two days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. two days a week, and 8 a.m. to noon three Saturdays a month.
Within a month, the owners said it was the best idea Dr. Crocker had ever had. The new schedule opened up a whole new revenue stream with more surgeries and lunchtime appointments.
Dr. Crocker gave other examples of creative schedules. In a practice for small animals, open on Saturdays, the veterinarians work 200 days a year, with at least two vets a day. Some group their days, working five days a week, and others work three or four days a week. Overall, the average work week is around four days.
Other general small animal practices require veterinarians to work three or four days a week, with longer workdays of 10 or 12 hours, which may include a Saturday.
In an equine outpatient practice, the schedule is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, with some people on call. In another equine outpatient practice, two part-time veterinarians share on-call duties with other equine practices.
Competition is intensifying across industries to recruit and retain employees, Scott-Jones said during Session Two. She is a digital marketing and social media strategist for the Georgia VMA and oversees board functions and digital marketing for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative.
Glassdoor, a website for employees to review companies and view job postings, found that about 80% of site users check social media when looking for a job. Scott-Jones said practices can use social media to show clinic culture and team dynamics, display unique aspects of vacancies and the clinic, and reach a larger pool of candidates.
Dr. Crocker said firms can implement a basic social media strategy to recruit and retain more and better candidates. This strategy can also be fun for the veterinary team. First, identify team members who will engage with social media for the practice. Allocate time to content creation and compensate identified members for their time.
To guide content, practices need to know their audience, which may be pet owners. Social media posts can show potential employees that the firm cares about pet owners. Start by trying basic content categories such as storytelling, motivational, and informational.
When Dr. Crocker first started posting on social media, her topics were her cat, finding joy in veterinary medicine, cool cases, and being a mom while working as a veterinarian.
When planning content, practices can use a content calendar, recurring content, and popular hashtags. Every post should include a call to action. For example, if the message is about treating a newly adopted dog for a heartworm infection, ask people if they have ever adopted a pet. Scott-Jones said the call to action might be the most important part of the message.
The speakers concluded by pointing out some resources for practices: Canva for graphics, Vixer for video editing, and WhiskerCloud for websites and social media engagement.