Wouldn’t it be great if you could fill your appointment schedule with the things that fill your cup? What if there was a way to book your days with what you enjoy most, and disperse the less desirable tasks equally amongst your team? Job crafting is a way to break out of the confines of the traditional veterinary job description and provides a way for veterinary professionals of all skill levels to enjoy more meaningful work.
What Is Job-Crafting?
Job crafting is a simple exercise to help you map out your passions, dislikes, and improvement areas. Think about it as a way to customize your role in the clinic that can fill your appointment schedule with the things that excite you the most. Of course, there will still be times when you take on cases that don’t exactly “float your boat.” However, your day-to-day doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with tasks you don’t enjoy doing. There is a way for you to find a balance amongst the tasks you love, and those you don’t enjoy as much.
How Can I Job-Craft?
The process is easy and requires only three supplies: Pen, paper, and time to think. Start by making a list of the tasks and skills that make you excited to go to work in the morning. Maybe you’re a dentistry fanatic, and you want to do four dental procedures per day. Or perhaps preventative medicine and geriatric pet care is the name of your game. Write them all down, and remember that nothing is off the table. Now, think about the tasks that don’t light your creative fire and add them to a separate list. If you’re not a surgeon at heart, no problem, just add it to the list. Finally, think about the tasks that would be most exciting if you had more confidence or mentorship in those areas.
You now have three very important lists in front of you. They are important because they are your roadmap to making every day at work, your best day. It’s important to note that you can’t do it alone. The best job-crafting exercises are done as a group, and you’re about to learn why.
Example of Job-Crafting
Imagine sitting in a circle with your colleagues, and openly sharing your lists. You may find out that your favorite types of appointments are your colleague’s least favorite and vice versa. All of a sudden, a revelation is made: you would happily take on the majority of the wellness appointments if your colleague would happily take on the majority of the dermatology appointments.
Up until that point, you may not have known each other’s preferences without sharing the results of your job-crafting lists. In addition, if your circle of colleagues all agrees that dentistry does not provide them with joy and excitement, you can all agree to divide up these appointments equally amongst yourselves. And just like that, new appointment booking criteria can be created for each veterinarian, with an emphasis on filling their schedules with the types of appointments that bring each of them the most fulfillment possible.
The other beautiful part about sharing your job crafting lists with your colleagues is that you can team up with each other and share your best practices. For example, if you are hoping to improve your technique and pace with gastropexy surgery, you can ask your colleague who loves to do them to teach you their tips and tricks. Imagine if you had never shared your desire to learn this surgical skill with the group. Your colleague may never have known that this was something that you wanted to do. Instead, they can now seek you out when they have a gastropexy booked and invite you to scrub in and learn.
I Am a New Graduate; Can I Still Use Job-Crafting?
Yes, of course, you can! The key as a graduate is to be flexible. As you gain more experience and confidence your preferences may change. It is important to revisit a job-crafting exercise at least once per year so you can stay up to date with your preferences and other colleagues as well. This will not only help you to align your work-life with your professional goals, but it will also help you to track the areas of practice in which you would like to improve.
Also, remember that it’s ok to want to do a little bit of everything. When you first graduate, it is impossible to know exactly what your likes and dislikes may be, and how they may evolve with experience. Being open to new opportunities to learn and fine-tune your skills is important. When you first start out in your career, you don’t have to be a master of it all, and developing professional interests and specialized skill sets can be just as fulfilling as “doing it all.”
Filling Your Days With What You Enjoy Most
What happens when you can fill your days with what you enjoy most? Inevitably, you develop a happier work-life balance that benefits you and the entire team. We have all had those great days in the clinic where everything went as planned and felt rewarding. A bustling and busy day, where the clients were happy and compliant, the patients were responding well to your medical plans, and you and your team felt energized by the end of the day. These are the days that you look forward to, and these are the days that can make up the majority of your workweek.
Job-crafting, when done well, can be applied to every role in the clinic setting. From veterinary nurses to the customer care team, job-crafting allows for the entire team to prioritize workplace wellness by supporting each other’s passions, and sharing the load when it comes to the less desirable parts of the job. And though it only costs you a little time to do it, the payoff in terms of job fulfillment, productivity, and personal growth, is endless.
Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman
Samyra is a veterinarian and veterinary practice co-owner. Her volunteer activities have taken her as far north as polar bear country and as south as the Mayan Riviera. She is passionate about the human-animal bond, animal welfare, mentorship, and workplace wellness. Samyra enjoys writing for her blog (The Tiny Vet Chronicles) and drawing custom pet portraits for her humble art business called 'Ink Naturally.'