Best practices for employers

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The company Independent Vets, which provides interim veterinarians for animal hospitals along parts of the East Coast, provides the following short list of best practices for getting top performance from these new team members, plus recommendations for shift schedules.


Let the team know she’s coming—the front desk, veterinary technicians, and other veterinarians. Share her profile and background.

Have your front desk notify clients when scheduling that one of your hospital’s partner veterinarians, Dr. “IndeVet,” is working that day. Better than “relief doctor” or “temporary vet.”

Add her into your system before the first shift. Make sure she can log in.
Encourage your doctors to leave extra-detailed records, especially for any ongoing cases.


Put a good team around her so she doesn’t spend 20 minutes looking for the X-ray machine.

Manage her time well, especially over the first few shifts. She may be slower at first as she gets to know your hospital. Longer appointments (20 minutes plus) and limited double booking will go a long way to keeping her on schedule. After a few shifts, she will build comfort and confidence.

If she is working a full shift—eight hours or more—make sure she has time for a break and some food. She’ll be happy, your team will be happy, and your clients will be happy.


Relief veterinarians get to choose where they work. Let her know she did a good job—or how she might improve the next time.

If she feels welcome and hears that she’s making a difference, she’ll want to come back.


There are many ways to build a daily schedule for a practice’s veterinarians. Many veterinarians use blocks in their schedules to catch up on appointments, complete diagnostic tests and medical treatments, finish medical records, and eat lunch or dinner. To have the most efficient, productive veterinarians, consider the following recommendations when building a daily schedule for a relief veterinarian:

  • Any shift of six hours or less: No recommended blocks in the schedule.
  • Any shift of six to nine hours: One 60-minute block or two 30-minute blocks.
  • Any shift longer than nine hours: 90 minutes of blocks—three 30-minute blocks or one 60-minute block and one 30-minute block.

Because blocks are routinely set in schedules to catch up on veterinary medical duties, relief veterinarians should remain clocked in during their scheduled blocks.