There’s a famous line every first-year vet student hears at my school during orientation week. After meeting your new classmates and going over curriculum expectations, we gather in a large lecture hall for our professor to give us the legendary speech that nearly every student in the last couple decades has heard. He outlines what a typical 13-hour day might look like hour-by-hour, starting with 9 hours of lecture and labs and ending with a 4-hour study session. Then he finishes it out with “you will be drinking from a firehose.” For me, the “firehose” speech stoked equal parts terror and caution. It was a striking reality check and a look into how important managing my time would become for my next four years. However, after entering clinics and seeing the realities of practicing veterinary medicine, it’s evident time management skills will be vital long after vet school. I know the foundation of time management skills I’m building now will empower my practice in the future.
Like taking a great dental radio-graph or performing an ultrasound guided cystocentesis, managing time efficiently is a skill that can be honed and developed. Rory Vaden suggests increasing efficiency by breaking down tasks into three groups, that which can be eliminated, automated, or delegated. As a student, I can eliminate or minimize anything outside of school that doesn’t add to my ability to perform at my best. In the clinic, I have seen vets find innovative solutions to gain greater control over their hours. I recently heard a clinician state he overcame the repetitive and time-consuming activity of writing similar case notes by creating templates for his most commonly seen cases. This allowed him to leave the clinic at least an hour before his colleagues every day. While the initial formation of templates took him a significant amount of time, he eliminated the future hours he would spend on similar cases by creating a semi-automated system. He gave himself more power over his time and demonstrated how a one-time investment can pay off in dividends for the future.
While this is one example, in reality, there are many factors that affect where our time goes in the clinic. It might be the emergency case that comes in right before closing time, or the client running late, or perhaps the scheduled 20-minute vaccine appointment that becomes a 45-minute new-puppy appointment. It can start to feel like we are fighting for control over time and disheartening when we lose control. The wait for test results can make both a client and a veterinarian feel helpless, nonetheless this time between collecting a patient sample and receiving lab results can have significant impacts on the health of a patient. While giving veterinarians the ability to diagnose at the point of care, Zomedica offers veterinarians the ability to provide owners and patients a faster answer and treatment. This has the promise to empower veterinarians with more control over both their clients and their own time, ultimately allowing them to better serve themselves, patients, and clients.