Value of a Veterinary Ambulatory Assistant
Ambulatory equine veterinarians can find value in hiring an assistant to help with a variety of duties every day.
When invoices are written, it is very common for a second set of eyes to find missed charges, and assistants are remarkably supportive of the value provided by the veterinary team, which reduces discounting. iStock

Almost one out of five equine practices do not have any employees. In fact, more than 35% of equine practices have only one doctor, so it is likely that many of those solo practitioners are doing everything themselves—stocking the truck at the end of a long day, filling out lab submission forms, finishing medical records in the evening after the kids are in bed or catching up on posting content to their practice social media sites on weekends between emergencies.

Imagine how much time you could free up in your day if you had some help with these tasks. Unbelievably, there are also large referral practices with ambulatory divisions that do not provide their doctors with assistants, despite the advantages of doing so.

Having an assistant has many benefits.

Tasks that do not require a veterinary degree can often be delegated to a well-trained employee. These can include keeping the practice vehicle stocked, cleaned and properly maintained, as well as counting inventory, archiving images and taking care of equipment. An assistant can also serve as the driver, leaving time for the doctor to make call-backs, look up histories or write medical records, lab submissions or invoices. Or if the veterinarian prefers to drive, the assistant can often take care of these tasks with training. A well-trained assistant can schedule your appointments, teach a client how to wrap a foot, perform stall-side laboratory tests and much more!

Safety increases markedly when a well-trained employee, rather than a horse owner, handles the patient—especially when that owner is not an adult. When invoices are written, it is very common for a second set of eyes to find missed charges, and assistants are remarkably supportive of the value provided by the veterinary team, which reduces discounting. The effciencies of having someone to set up and put away diagnostic equipment, do sterile prep for procedures and assist in field surgeries are priceless.

Affording an assistant might seem difficult, but with a modest increase in prices, it is doable if you avoid employee overtime.

With an hourly wage of $15 for 40 hours a week (four 10-hour days) for 52 weeks, the total wages would be $31,200. With the addition of payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance costs of about $4,056, the yearly cost would be $35,256. If your gross revenue production was currently $350,000 and you instituted a fee increase of 10%, that would increase your revenue by $35,000—enough to pay for help. As a bonus, the efficiencies of having someone to do the non-veterinary tasks could free you up to do more billable work, and the decrease in missed charges and discounts could add to your bottom line.

Having help in the truck can raise the amount of revenue you earn quite dramatically.

Having companionship during long days can also help you feel more connected and less stressed. The last two years have seen strong increases in service demand by clients, with increased revenue, visits and emergencies. Equine veterinarians are tired and are finding it hard to keep going at this relentless pace. Meeting the needs of clients and patients can be made easier with the efforts of a team.

Don’t hesitate to hire an assistant—you deserve the help!

Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other medical providers with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in the article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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