Between balancing administrative tasks and clients, meeting goals, and achieving deadlines being a practitioner can be overwhelming. You probably barely have time to do everything, let alone to stop and think, how did I end up here? Do I enjoy it? Or, more importantly, which parts of my role do I enjoy, and how can I do more of them!
Although it may seem unachievable, doing more of the work you love is essential and not just for you. Letting yourself get to the point of burnout means reducing productivity and decreasing the quality of care for your clients.
Every clinician is unique. The work you enjoy may not be the same as a colleague or someone in the same role as you. That's why we aren’t here to tell you what to do more of but instead provide you with an easy-to-follow guide that will guarantee you get more time to do the things that attracted you to the role initially.
First, think of what makes you happy. Which tasks do you find yourself looking forward to doing in the day? On the flip side of that, what do you avoid? What keeps going to the bottom of the pile? For most clinicians, that's administrative tasks, necessary but, unfortunately, time-consuming and not what you had in mind when you started your career. Having a deep awareness of what you enjoy and avoid means that you can begin to take steps to reduce the amount of time spent doing the things you don't like to make time for the things you do.
You've probably heard this before, but setting well-defined, measurable and achievable goals help you focus on what's important to you. For example, you may want to set a goal to "increase your client-facing time."
When you create goals, utilize the SMART goals framework. SMART goals are easier to implement and monitor over time. A SMART goal is:
An example goal is: "By (April 7, 2022), I want to spend (4 hours) per day of client-facing time working with (groups that work with clients who experience anxiety)."
As a clinician, you likely have at least one non-client meeting a day, if not more. These meetings are famous for perpetually running overtime, going off-topic, and unsuccessful at achieving what's intended. Make a conscious effort to reduce the number of meetings you attend and when you do, be clear to outline the purpose and the time you need to leave. A practice management software like Carepatron is a great way to schedule efficient and effective meetings by sending reminders so you don't sit there waiting for your team to show up.
In most practices, notes and documents are not stored in one place. This means going between numerous platforms or even going into the filing cabinet to get out a client's paper file. Not only is this time-consuming, but it can be dangerous for the client as details can be lost or forgotten. Use free practice management software to write, scan and store notes. Find a tool that also includes autosave (that's a thing!), so you never have to spend time ferreting around in old emails looking for a client referral letter.
Detailed client notes are necessary, but they're also time-consuming and can be frustrating when they eat into your lunch break. Many clinicians put them off, making them take 'paperwork days,' eliminating the client-facing hours (and the enjoyable part of the day). Voice transcription is faster and means you can get essential details down before they slip your mind. Carepatron offers a free AI-powered voice transcription tool. This capability will be a significant step to reducing the amount of time spent in front of the screen.
Capturing demographics, client consent, and questionnaires are all forms you are likely to rely on throughout your day. Paper forms can prove to be costly to the environment and also your workflow. Think about the amount of time spent waiting for a client to fill out the consent form at the start of their appointment or the times they've misplaced their questionnaire. Having the capability to use digital forms means sending them out before the appointment. It means being able to edit the forms as you wish, and also means you'll never lose them. Google form is an excellent solution to this, it's straightforward to access, and if you have trouble making the forms in the first place, youtube has some great tutorials!
We've mentioned digitalizing client notes and using voice transcription to capture details more efficiently, but what about how you structure your notes? Instead of writing lengthy client notes that can be repetitive or ineffective, try using a practitioner note template like SOAP notes (SOAP is an acronym for subjective, objective, assessment, and plan). Templates like this are beneficial because they allow you to have a standardized way of documenting details about clients, which means you and other clinicians can quickly find information in past notes. Templates also make sure you cover all the necessary information within the assessment for each client so that on those busy days, there's no room for error! Loads of free SOAP note templates exist online. All you have to do is find one that suits you!
Using billing automation software to gather invoice data, populate the blanks, and process the invoices can reduce your time spent on invoicing by up to 90%. Invoicing is not why you're working in the healthcare sector, so why not cut it out of your workload? Platforms like Carepatron or Freshbooks are a cost-effective and easy way to remove the inconvenience of invoicing your clients and allow them to make automatic payments online to avoid that uncomfortable conversation following a productive session. Besides, they will enable you to keep track of where you're at without having to spend hours at the end of the week or month thinking about why starting up your practice has suddenly meant you need to get another degree in accounting.
Although these are small and incremental changes. Each day, a few minutes here or there means you will get to spend more time with the clients you want to see. You will be a happier person and clinician, you'll be more productive and more empathetic, and you will be far less likely to experience burnout.
In addition to these small changes, you'll need to keep your goals visible. Maybe put them in a place that you look at each day to keep them at the forefront of your mind. It's also helpful to track your progress, take notes of the little things you have achieved. Tick them off, cross them out, and feel good about yourself because you're getting somewhere!
So set the time aside, write out your goals and start using a software platform like Carepatron to be a happier clinician.