Overcoming Pandemic Burnout in Your Veterinary Clinic

Lisa Tynan
December 14, 2020

Creative Team Building

We’re nine months into one of the most difficult times any of us have experienced to date. In the veterinary industry, we’ve been fortunate that our essential work has gone on, mostly uninterrupted. But work isn’t the only thing in peoples’ lives, and just because they’re coming to work every day doesn’t mean things at home are going well. The best we can do is be there for each other by making work a place everyone wants to be!

To break up the monotony and lift spirits, some hospitals have gotten creative with morale-boosting activities. Dr. Peter Weinstein with the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association sent us this hilarious TikTok from Baker Ranch Animal Hospital near Irvine, CA. That’s certainly one creative way to battle the COVID-19 frustration and build up some endorphins at the same time.

So what else can you do while you’re together at work that might help your team find their joy again? Back in October, Roo hospital The KAAWS Clinic organized a Spirit Week and had awesome employee participation. If you can’t see your staff getting into it, there’s always the option of a silly gift exchange. Everyone likes presents!

If you can manage it, try scheduling a long lunch block one day and order in a nice meal from a local restaurant. Make sure everyone - veterinarians, vet techs and support staff alike - gets to stop working and sit still while they enjoy some time together. And of course, be sure to tip big because that food delivery kid probably needs it.

Maybe you can close early and gather your team together for a guided meditation. There are so many fabulous videos on the web that you can pull up. Turn the lights down in the lobby, have everyone find a comfortable spot, and take a moment for mindfulness and togetherness before sending everyone on their way.

If your team is into healthy competition, create a veterinary clinic bingo game. Make a few different cards with various scenarios you might encounter during a normal day at work (expressed glands, anyone?) and give a prize to the first person to complete a row. You’d be surprised what the simple act of crossing out a box with ‘Cat Brought in a Hamper’ can do for someone’s mood. Along the same lines, you can create a scavenger hunt and leave objects hidden around the clinic that your team can discover throughout the day.

It’s possible that games or team building just aren’t your thing, and that’s ok. If you’re able, consider building a three-day weekend into the schedule here and there. Block out a Friday or a Monday and don’t book a single appointment. Give everyone a chance to breathe.

Vaccines are coming. There is a light, however faint, at the end of this seemingly interminable tunnel. But it will be a long time before anything feels “normal” again, so every little bit of joy and camaraderie you can foster will go a long way in getting through this together.

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