How to embrace and retain part-time veterinarians – vet mums – in your veterinary clinic – Dr Jocelyn Birch Baker

Dr Jocelyn Birch Baker’s vision at Smooth Operating Vets is to ensure all veterinary women have the opportunity to work in a team where everyone knows their talents and calmly does their very best in an encouraging and supporting place….

That women can return to veterinary practice after the birth of their babies with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need, to work in clinics that are supportive and flexible … where everyone works together – like a community – to achieve everyone’s goals.

This is episode one of two where Dr Jocelyn Birch Baker – veterinarian, clinic owner of High Street Veterinary Surgery in Rockhampton, Queensland, a mother and the founder of Smooth Operating Vets – and I – Julie South – talk about changes veterinary clinics can make to embrace working mums into their practices to create a smooth operating veterinary clinic.

Dr Jocelyn Birch Baker – Smooth Operating Vets + High Street Veterinary Clinic | Rockhampton | Queensland | Australia | IMAGE SUPPLIED

Jocelyn’s vision at Smooth Operating Vets is to ensure all veterinary women have the opportunity to work in a team where everyone knows their talents and calmly does their very best in an encouraging and supporting place….

That women can return to veterinary practice after the birth of their babies with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need, to work in clinics that are supportive and flexible …

Where everyone works together – like a community – to achieve everyone’s goals. 

Over the course of her career, Jocelyn’s experienced many areas of the veterinary profession – from the cattle industry through to mixed and small animal clinics. 

She’s held positions on Australian national and state boards and committees and has taken time out of her career to raise her children.

Today, as the owner of High Street Veterinary Surgery in Rockhampton, Queensland, she’s had hands-on, day-to-day experience of what it’s like to be a practice owner in today’s veterinary marketplace.  

High Street Vet Surgery – Rockhampton | Queensland | Australia | highstreetvets.com.au

Jocelyn understands the complexities of running a profitable practice, while having an excellent lifestyle for herself and enabling everyone on her team to have excellent lifestyles too.

As the founder of Smooth Operating Vets, Jocelyn is working to create mother-friendly veterinary practices.   She believes that creating mother-friendly vet clinics is essential to help reduce the number of highly skilled veterinarians who leave the profession because they can’t find positions that support, nurture and respect them as veterinarians and mothers.

Smooth Operating Vets – smoothoperatingvets.com

In this episode she talks about buying her practice – and then not long after she bought it two vets and a few nurses resigned …  Jocelyn’s first foray into recruitment to replace her departing staff was to do what everyone else does because that’s what she thought she had to do … but then she realised she didn’t need to do it that way at all – because “that” way doesn’t work.

The way Jocelyn now recruits, together with the systems and procedures she’s put in place, is non-traditional but it works.   This is what Smooth Operating Vets is all about.

In this episode I want you to listen out for when Jocelyn talks about how she manages on call and after-hours rosters.   And they work!

It wasn’t a system she inherited – it was something she implemented herself.

Listen when she shares how her on call system works.  Her team earns really good money when they work on call.  As in they earn really good money when they’re called out in the middle of the night. 

Listen out for how she primes her clients with her on call after hours message which means there’s no quibbling when it comes to clients paying their bill. 

Jocelyn does lots of things different – stay tuned to the end of this episode and I’ll summarise these for you because there are quite a few powerful nuggets coming up.

I start by asking her why she became a veterinarian

What’s talked about when – time clips

Summary

  • Jocelyn openly supports, encourages and embraces part time workers – her language supports that.
  • When most clinic owners groan inside, Jocelyn gets excited when one of her team announces she’s pregnant.  
  • Jocelyn has 10 Keeping in Touch Days where she keeps in touch with women through their maternity leave – inviting them to training sessions and other events so they’re staying connected with the team, getting adult contact and still able to feel professionally valued.
  • Training is done at a time – where possible – that works around day care and school pickups.
  • Allowing her mums to pick up their kids from day care on-time is high priority.   It’s a fundamental value at her clinic and everyone supports everyone else to make sure this happens.
  • The vets get the majority of the after-hours fees.   As Jocelyn said – some of her vets can earn $1000 a weekend when they’re on call.   From a $200 on call fee, the vet gets $180 of that.  
  • She also ensures she has systems in place that ensure her on-call team is fully rested before they return to work.
  • Days start of with a team meeting which includes an attitude of gratitude share by everyone.

Links mentioned in today’s show

Smooth Operating Vets

High Street Vet Surgery

Email Jocelyn

Episode #30 – Dr Megan Alderson – The Strand Veterinarian – her trials and tribulations in building a healthy veterinary team

Episode #28 – part 1 of 2 – Dr Francesca Brown – her research – is it possible for NZ veterinary clinics to have healthy staff and a healthy bottom line?

Episode #29 – part 2 of 2 – Dr Francesca Brown – her research – is it possible for NZ veterinary clinics to have healthy staff and a healthy bottom line?

Episode #023 – Dr Alejandra Arbe-Montoya – Veterinarian Moral Distress, Moral Conflict & Conscientious Objection

Get in touch with Julie

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