How to embrace and retain part-time veterinarians – vet mums – in your veterinary clinic – Dr Jocelyn Birch Baker – part 2 of 2

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 two 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.

To give context to this episode I recommend you listen to episode 042 first.

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

The Clinic’s Tenet

High Street Vet Clinic operates under 5 “rules” and 3 underlying tenets:

Rules

  1. The intent is good – people mean well
  2. No blame policy
  3. No swearing policy
  4. Every animal deserves to come in and be looked at by one of her veterinarians
  5. No disrespectful behaviour

Tenets

  1. Culture – everyone has everyone’s back and wants everyone to be their best
  2. Positivity
  3. Valuing people

How to build and grow a strong team where trust is at its foundation

When it comes to building a team, Jocelyn talked about six different actions she took / takes:

  1. She listened
  2. She got people talking
  3. She always endeavours to understand
  4. She shared her personal stories
  5. She makes sure everyone’s families are invited to clinic social occasions – because they’re part of her extended team
  6. That it’s by going through hard / difficult cases and procedures together – with shared hard experiences, that everyone works as a team – the team discovers that they’ve all got each other’s backs.

7 different tools / strategies Jocelyn uses to run an efficient and profitable high performing business

  1. Software – ezyVet CRM
  2. WhatsApp for team chats
  3. Technology – if it’s designed to make life easier, she uses it
  4. Outsourcing – let people play to their strengths
  5. 10 touch points – parental leave
  6. Buddy system for everyone on parental leave – weekly check-ins
    1. 10 hours of house-keeping gifted as soon as someone goes on parental leave
  7. Training is organised so it suits as many people as possible – around childcare requirements

How to ensure 30 minute consultations are more profitable than 15 minute consults

Jocelyn hasn’t looked back since keeping 30 minute consultations after using them through Covid-19 Lockdown – here’s how / why:

  1. Vets do the admissions because it means they get to chat with the owner => more info
  2. Full conversations => really good workups => better care for patients
  3. No one wants to be processed – wants to know their special
  4. Less time spent in following up calls as all done during consult
  5. No sales targets to achieve
  6. Top of mind is “How can we best help this animal?”
  7. Full head-to-toe examination – even if it’s “only” a vaccination appointment
  8. No “bill shock” conversations on presentation of the bill
  9. No emailed estimates – full conversation at the time => strong on education
  10. When you have ideal client this is sooo much easier

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

First interview with Jocelyn – episode 041

Smooth Operating Vets

High Street Vet Surgery

Email Jocelyn

Get in touch with Julie

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