Make your day job a dream job!
Despite having left practice after 8 years, 5 years on, I am still deeply involved in the profession and I am one of those annoying people who still believe practice can be a better place. Furthermore, I believe we can all contribute, and this was beautifully illustrated by your responses to this recent post on VSGD:
‘Hi all! Let's mix it up a little! I have a question to all you still practicing or converted vets! Am working on a few projects to improve vets life in practice and I would like to know, what would put the FUN back in your practicing veterinary life. BE CREATIVE ;-) Let's have a laugh...’
98 comments later, you proved that not only do you feel concerned and committed but also that you are wildly imaginative and only a step away from making your workplace a nicer place to be for YOU and for your colleagues.
When unhappy and under a lot of strain, we all end up being very reactive to our environment rather than taking charge and being proactive in order to improve a crystallizing situation.
Many of the suggestions you made could be implemented to improve your practice life. Don’t start off with huge expectations but remember all fires start off with a spark… So rather than sitting silently at your next practice meeting, let your voice be heard. If speaking out is not your thing, suggest it discreetly to your colleagues, force comes in numbers and be sure that they are all longing for a fun day at work just like you!
Here are the top themes that emerged
1. Mandatory tea/coffee breaks
Take 15 minutes first thing to sit down and really engage with each other.
2. Weekly (or more) healthy communal lunch
Take it in turns to look after patients/phone etc… and perhaps suggest themes, sweet, savory, Italian, French…get creative! YUM!
A lady came in and made sandwiches or soup and it made sure everyone got a break, ate and was an informal way to chat about cases
3. Local pub once a week
It doesn’t have to be a pub crawl… even 45 minutes, just a wind down and a bit of positive sharing and it does not need to be centred around alcohol.
4. Evening or Morning run/bike club once a week
Exercise is a perfect way to unwind and share something not work related. Perhaps set a date in the calendar for a 5 or 10k and train together!
Morning run club ( or run/walk ) ; meet at 7 for a half hour run before work ( with dogs ), you get a voucher for each one you attend and when you’ve done fifty you get £100 towards new trainers paid for by the practice
5. Pilates/yoga/sports once a week
Get fit and have fun, TOGETHER! Perhaps convert the waiting room as a studio after hours and get your own instructor in.
We are looking at an online fitness / aerobics / yoga / Pilates class that staff can do over lunch if they want - plus a shower for afterwards!
Have you tried the online fitness platform Instructorlive?
6. Pub quiz once a month
Get savvy on some non-veterinary knowledge, a great way to take your mind off work.
7. Escape game and dinner
Why not do this every three months. Make your own or head to your closet event. It is unusual and fun!
I made a "room escape" one weekend set up in the practice. My colleagues had to X ray a cake to find a key (then eat it), scan a stuffed toy to find the hidden code to padlocks in the microchip number, and generally work together scuttling around the practice to "escape" before the hour ran out. I think it boosted morale!
Check out Escape Rooms here
8. A good job box
That you read out at meetings: making others feel good is a direct route to feeling good yourself. Watch out though as it is catching!
9. Monthly physio/sports massage
Why not get a therapist in within your practice: forgetting aches and pains together
I did a locum at a practice that had a sports therapist visit every 2 weeks. She set up a massage table in a spare room and you booked in with her. Was great. The reception team would try and make sure you got back for your appointment, and if you didn’t, they would just juggle it around with other in clinic staff members so you could always see her. It was fab! As well as a good sports massage she helped you work out better ways of standing etc... when doing repetitive jobs like pregnacy testing to reduce injury.
Remember, it would only take a few weeks to turn any of these into healthy habits
One last thing, if you are worried that you will end up ranting too much about work on work socials, here’s a great way to avoid this. I instigated this 6 months ago. It’s called the TEQUILA RULE. Any mention of work outside of work incurs a shot of tequila for the person slipping up. We have a running tab to make sure no one forgets. It works a treat. We spend a whole lot more time together and learn a lot more about each other as a result too. ENJOY!
Please comment below if you have more suggestions!