How associates can ride out the recession
You're an integral part of your practice's finances, whether you own the practice or not.
So you don't own the practice. That doesn't mean the economic environment doesn't affect you. If you're paid on production, that's obvious-your paycheck dwindles if the clinic's front door isn't swinging. But even if you're paid a straight salary, you have a high stake in the practice's success-or failure. Pay raises and job security are just a couple of reasons to care about practice finances. Here are a few things you can do to help your practice and yourself.
Hone your skills. Having more time on your hands means you can take on a research project, attend that ultrasound course, read more medical publications, spend time on the Internet, or hit up product manufacturers for free training. Remember, there's always more to learn and not all of it requires new equipment or expensive coursework. If you brush up on how to use that piece of equipment gathering dust in the corner and start promoting that service, everybody benefits.
Organize an online initiative. We're the computer-savvy generation, right? Let's show it. Consider that the Web is where everyone's moving. Can you help your practice improve its Web site? Write a blog? Create a hospital profile on Facebook? Twitter up some new clients? Ask your best clients to review you on Angie's List? An increasing number of my new clients come from the Web. You can't afford to miss out on this marketing opportunity.
Get out in the (veterinary) world. Take the time to attend meetings with colleagues, spend some time at a spay/neuter day, participate in a charity walk that benefits animals, meet and greet in online veterinary communities, take a long-lost classmate out to lunch-anything social. It might not make you money right now, but it'll build your professional skills, visibility, and reputation. And what's that worth? If you could measure it in the burnout and stress you avoid, maybe millions.
Lastly, don't freak out. You're probably treading water on your student loans and worried about your financial situation. Your best bet is to stay cool and keep busy. Take up a hobby, get back in the gym, volunteer. Panicking helps nobody, least of all you and your practice.
Dr. Patty Khuly is an associate at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami, Fla., and blogs at dolittler.com.