2023 New Year’s Resolutions for Vets

Around this time, a lot of us like to make lists of our New Year’s resolutions – but by the end of month one, we’re already struggling to meet those goals. This could either be because we ask too much of ourselves all at once, we aim for sweeping changes that are ultimately out of our control, or we’re just not specific enough.

With 2023 now here, it’s time to set some inspiring yet realistic resolutions. These could be for your personal life, relationships or even your workplace (the focus of this article). Because the truth is, actively planning what you want out of work will make it easier to find what you need. 

To get you started, here are some fun and achievable New Year’s resolutions for vet workers.


Declutter and organise your space 

An organised physical and digital space is always a great resolution to start with, as a tidy space can equal a tidy mind and more room to focus on important tasks. This one is especially relevant to veterinary admins, but we think that it can apply to anyone from vets themselves to nurses, managers and beyond. 

On the digital side: 

In your physical workspace:

  • Move excessive stationery or devices away from surfaces and into drawers where they won’t always be on display.
  • Set up automated reminders for yourself via tools like Google Calendar, or for clients via systems like Panacea, and say goodbye to sticky notes around the desk.
  • Scan as many paper documents as you can and store them on the cloud, then shred the physical copies. 
  • Make sure medications are clearly labelled and stored in a way that makes things quick and easy to find.
  • The same goes for pet products; and since these may be client-facing, consider more aesthetically-pleasing organisation. For example, open shelves, large and bright labels, etc. If products are more appealing on the shelf, you may find your sales rising in turn. 
  • If you have multiple consultation rooms, set up your storage the same way in each one. This will help stressed vets and nurses remember where things are and save wasted time searching. 

If the clinic owner agrees, it may even be time for a fresh coat of paint or an overhaul of faded furnishings to create a more welcoming and comfortable space. 


Learn something new

Learning new skills in our personal lives is a common resolution for most of us, so why not do same at work? 

Take time to identify where you would like to advance at your clinic or beyond, and what specific skill or qualification could help you get there. Once you’ve got the ‘what’, don’t stop! Go ahead and ask yourself these questions next:

  • Why do I want to learn this skill? Pin this somewhere to keep you motivated.
  • Who can help me learn this skill? And/or – what resources do I have access to?
  • When can I realistically work on this skill each day? Each week?  
  • What accountability can I put in place to keep me focussed?

They say that it takes 10,000 hours (or about 416 days) to truly master a skill, so it stands to reason that picking up a new skill with even a moderate level of comfort should be achievable within a year. This may be especially true when you learn through any of the following:

  • Classes (online or in person).
  • Internships.
  • Freelance or side hustles.

Even better, some clinics may be willing to invest in you and subsidise further education or arrange time off as needed, provided this is a skill that adds value to your position.


Amp up your networking

This is something that can benefit anyone no matter what your current title or career goals. Meeting other vets or professionals can be a great way to learn new skills from peers, build a bubble of support and keep an ear on the latest news for the industry.

This could look like:

  • Attending networking events – search these up ahead of time and mark them on your calendar. While big gatherings are certainly not for everyone, you can at least make a goal to attend at least a certain number of these for the year and/or focus on just the smaller ones. Even just once a year can be a great way to catch up with connections.
  • Updating your online presence to reflect where you are professionally and the image you want to present to the world.
  • Reaching out to professionals and organising a one-on-one. 
  • Joining or creating local groups for online support and discussion.

There are countless ways to network, so try choosing one method that works best for you and starting there. If you find this goal is easily achievable, and it’s something you can keep on top of, then consider expanding after that. 


Change your mind about something

When we really stop and think about it, a lot of us get caught up in preconceived biases and often aren’t prepared to reflect on our outlook. Being able to change your mind can lead to a more positive approach to work and ultimately life in general. 

Aim to reflect on at least one major event of your week each week at a certain time (every Friday afternoon, for example) and reflect on whether your approach could have been different, what you may have learned from the experience and how you could change things going forward. 

Here are some ideas for changing your thinking:

  • Could you give yourself more credit for achievements, instead of beating yourself up for failures?
  • Have you made a judgement about one of your colleagues that would be worth revisiting?
  • Have you dismissed an opportunity that could benefit you?
  • Could your standard procedures be reinvented and streamlined? Keep an eye on this space, as we publish regular articles on how Panacea can help you do just that!

A regular ‘touch base’ with yourself is invaluable, so try committing to this regularly. 


Do something nice for yourself each day

Even though you may be at the clinic for long hours, it’s important to take time out of each day to take care of yourself and set up little moments that you can look forward to on stressful days.

For example:

  • Make sure that you take your breaks whenever possible. 
  • Drink plenty of water. 
  • Get up and stretch your legs if you’re typically behind a desk. 
  • Have coffee with your favourite co-workers.
  • Personalise your workspace.

Being kind to yourself is often easier said than done, so commit to the little things first and don’t let this stop when the stress piles up; that’s when it may be needed most of all.



What resolutions are you planning on this year? What do you think of our suggestions? Let us know!

Managing Emotional Exhaustion at Work

We’ve all faced times where our emotional resilience is tested and we’re not sure if we can carry on like before. Even the most experienced vets, nurses, admins and more may feel the toll of long hours, unfortunate outcomes and the heat of passionate pet owners. 

When you’re feeling rundown or strung out, it’s important to address those feelings as soon as you can. “Soldiering on” may be necessary now and then, but it can become unsustainable. After all, a glass that’s overflowing can’t take any more. 

Don’t let emotional exhaustion affect your work and professional relationships. If you’re feeling burnt out, now might be the time to care of yourself as much as you do for our beloved pets. 


Notice the signs

Before you can care for your emotional needs, it’s important to understand them. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Have you been irritable or less focussed at work?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping, or finding enough energy during the day?
  • Have your feelings towards work changed? For example, are you less motivated, excited or cheerful than usual? Do you dread coming in each day?

This is just a start, so don’t hesitate to dive deeper and see if further red flags present themselves. In the meantime, if any of these questions ring true to you, please read on to see our suggestions for responding to them.



Humans are empathetic beings, but sometimes we need to segment that part of ourselves in order to maintain objective decision making and mental resilience. 

It may seem incredibly obvious, but nobody can do everything, and sometimes things are out of our control or just don’t work out. 

Try to remind yourself that you are only human and you’re doing your job to the best of your abilities. Don’t blame yourself when things go south, and don’t bring work home with you; your personal hours are your sanctuary and recovery period. Use them to disconnect completely from clinic time and return in better spirits. 


Practice mindfulness 

If you’re struggling to separate your work life from your home life, and the emotions of others from your sense of self, try practicing these simple mindfulness techniques:

  • Breathe: Yes, that’s it. Focus on breathing in and out, in and out. Steady, controlled. Fill your lungs and empty them as a deliberate act. Even just a minute can force your physical stress reactions down and calm your mind along with it. 
  • Focus on the here and now: Don’t over-analyse everything that has happened or could happen; instead, ground yourself in what’s happening at this very moment and what you can find joy in. 
  • Take in your surroundings: Slow down your mind and pick out small sensations around you. What does your environment smell like? Look like? Sound like? What can you taste, or feel? Pick out individual feelings in your body, starting from your toes and working upwards. By the time you get to the top of your head, it may feel less overwhelming.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; if you’d like to learn more, consider seeking further meditation and grounding techniques that you can easily fit into your work schedule. 


Take care of your physical health

Mental and physical health are often intertwined. Try taking stock of your current habits and see what changes could help improve your mindset. For example:

  • Cut down on coffee: Too much caffeine can cause irritability, anxiety and insomnia, which of course can make it harder to regulate your emotions under stress.
  • Exercise more: Vets and nurses are always on their feet, but short bursts of more intense exertion can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even if you can’t find the time at home, try fitting in a short workout during lunch to boost your mood for the afternoon.
  • Get some sleep: Do whatever you can to fit in a full night’s rest, even if you think you can manage with less. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to maintain both physical and mental wellbeing. 


Ask for help

Your team is there to support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. This could be as simple as confiding in a trusted colleague about whatever is weighing you down. You might be surprised how many people feel the same way as you.

On the other hand, if you’re exhausted because you’re struggling with a team member, don’t default to self-blame. There may be no good guy or bad guy in this situation, just a clash of personalities. However, if it is a pervasive issue, don’t hesitate to speak with your manager. It is best for the emotional health of all involved to deal with problem colleagues; you have enough on your plate already. 

Your manager can also help you more generally by approving time off or restructuring work hours. Often there is no one specific thing causing our burnout – it’s just too much for too long. Remember: you are entitled to a certain amount of leave, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.


At the end of the day, there is no fix-all cure for exhaustion at work, and stressors may come in all shapes and sizes. Some are within our control, and some are not. What matters is being able to identify the issue and get to the root of it where possible, understand your responses, manage the symptoms of burnout and ask for help where needed. You may find this making a difference not only in the moment, but also in your outlook as a whole.

Do you have any more tips for managing emotional exhaustion at work? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!


5 Simple Ways to Appreciate your Team

They say that employees who feel truly valued by their work are more productive, loyal and happy. This may be especially true for veterinary clinics, where workplace stress can be a significant issue. 

Being the kind of leader who shows appreciation to their team can make a big difference to the wellbeing and retention of your staff – but when you’re already running a clinic, how do you find the space to show that you care? You keep it simple, of course! And oftentimes, that’s all you really need. 

Whether your vet clinic is big or small, we’ve put together some ideas for simple ways to appreciate your team members, so you can start reaping the benefits and seeing the difference in your team. 


Say it

Don’t keep it to yourself when your team members do a good job – tell them!

It can’t really be that simple, can it? Of course, this isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ of showing appreciation, but the truth is that telling someone in plain terms that you appreciate their hard work can be extremely meaningful, especially during stressful times.

Now, a lot of us tend to brush off empty compliments, so be specific about exactly what they’ve been doing well and show that you’ve noticed their achievements. If you can’t say it in person, even a thoughtful email or WhatsApp message can reassure someone that their work is being recognised. 


Offer benefits

The most obvious suggestion here is to ensure that your vets, nurses and other team members are being compensated fairly, but there are other easy ways to boost morale that don’t require paying out. 

Take a look at your current schedule and perhaps consider if a slight rearrangement may benefit workers. Are there some who wish they could swap shifts with their colleagues? Are there opportunities to work from home or go on the road? Could you have longer days but shorter weeks, or vice-versa? Assessing where you can be flexible and asking your team for their input could go a long way. 

Remember to tell them that you’re trying to be flexible in recognition of their great work.


Mobility and upskilling

Even if it’s our dream job, no one wants to feel like they’re stuck in one spot forever. Consider providing opportunities for advancement or giving time off for additional learning wherever possible. For example, do you have a vet assistant who wants to develop their role into something bigger, an admin looking to grow, or a technician who’s ready to specialise in one particular field? 

By providing a clear path forward for your staff, you can not only increase your number of internal hires (which is likely to boost clinic loyalty), but you’ll also have highly-qualified people who can then train up your new hires. Better yet, helping your team ‘level up’ could open new avenues of business – especially when it comes to specialty care. 

The flip side to this is managing poor performance effectively. The poor performance of an individual can negatively impact upon the performance and motivation of the entire team. It can be tricky to manage poor performance, but it’s important to do so for their sake and for the rest of your team.


Celebrate achievements and anniversaries

This can be as simple as wishing your team members a happy birthday and buying a cake to share, or going out for a team lunch when someone reaches a milestone. 

Of course, when your clinic is extremely busy then just taking a few minutes to say something nice or giving a gift card can still mean a lot, and it shows that you haven’t forgotten the little things.

Whatever you do, the celebration doesn’t have to be big; it just needs to show that there’s thought and heart behind it. 


Splash out a little

Then again, if you want to do something big, you absolutely can. Organising the odd team event can not only be incredibly therapeutic after an intense period, but it also allows for team bonding outside of the work environment. 

Furthermore, there are often free or low-cost events available in many areas, such as open mic nights at local bars, theatre shows or even escape rooms!

If you can’t make it out of the clinic, try something simple like coffee or sweets after a particularly grueling day; even if it’s not a special occasion. This shows that you’re aware of how hard everyone is working. 


What are some of your best tips for showing appreciation to the team? We’d love to hear them.

How to Improve Your Vet Clinic’s Internet

Having fast, reliable internet is vital to almost every business – and vets are no exception. Even if you use a vet practice management system with an onsite server and database, you’ll no doubt rely on the internet for email, web access, electronic payments (EFTPOS, etc.) and a range of other services.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we enjoy generally good internet access wherever we go, due in no small part to huge public sector investment in fibre and mobile broadband coverage. Having great internet access is about more than just the broadband connection into your building, however, and even customers with fast Internet access complain about sluggish internet speeds from time to time.

In this article we look at a few of the simple strategies you can use to both establish the performance of your internet connection and improve it for you and your staff.

Before we get started, do remember that a cable (i.e. Ethernet) connection is always superior to Wi-Fi, no matter what. Wi-Fi should only be used for work computers where it’s too difficult or too expensive to provide a cable connection, for reasons we will describe below.


Measuring internet performance

Before you do anything, it’s important to establish exactly how well your internet connection is performing. Sometimes you may find that what’s being perceived as slow internet performance can be attributed to other factors. We recommend establishing a baseline for internet performance when things are running well, as this gives you something to compare against when they’re not so good.

Remember to reboot your computer every couple of days to keep it running optimally. Rather than just suspending or hibernating it, use the ‘shutdown and restart’ function of your operating system to properly restart it. This will rule out memory leaks and other such issues as being the source of performance bottlenecks.

Testing internet performance couldn’t be easier – just visit speedtest.net and click ‘Go’. If you’re using a mobile device you can install the Speedtest app – it more or less works the same way as the website.


Speedtest will give you three different results – each one of these will impact overall internet performance:

  • Download speed – expressed in megabits per second (Mbps), this is the size of the pipe down which data will flow when you’re downloading from the internet. If you have more than a few users in your office, anything less than 10Mbps could be a bit slow. If it’s less than 1Mbps then you’re likely to experience poor performance, particularly during video calls, etc. Modern broadband connections should run at 50Mbps or higher.
  • Upload speed – similar to ‘download’, but this is the size of the pipe carrying data from your computer to the internet. The upload speed is often slightly slower than download and this is usually by design, but you’ll still want this to be above 10Mbps (more if you have a large office).
  • Ping – expressed in milliseconds, this is how long it takes a packet of data to travel from your computer to the test server and back again. This is important because, even if you have big ‘pipes’ carrying data back and forth, if that data is taking too long to make the trip then you’ll experience poor performance.


Speedtest is easy to use and 100% free, so use it often. You’ll start to build a feel for the performance profile of your internet connection, particularly at different times of the day, when it’s performing poorly, etc. If you create a login, Speetest will retain your results history so you’ll have a record of past performance you can refer to as needed.

Remember that Speedtest is measuring performance from the perspective of your computer/device. If you have devices connected via Wi-Fi then you should always take a moment to run tests using a cable device (i.e. one connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, with Wi-Fi turned off) as well. This will help you to determine whether performance issues are related to your broadband connection or to the Wi-Fi within your clinic.


Selecting the right broadband connection

Not all broadband connections are created equal and you may be surprised at the range of options available at your clinic’s address. It’s also important to shop around, as the best prices and service aren’t necessarily to be found with the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Cable broadband

Cable broadband connections are delivered over fibre optic or copper cables that come into your clinic. There are lots of cable technologies available – here are some of the most common ones in order of preference:

  1. Fibre, particularly if it includes fibre optic cabling all the way into your building (some networks, such as Australia’s NGN, use copper cabling for what’s called the ‘last mile’).
  2. Cable – typically delivered over private copper or fibre networks. Cable networks can vary greatly in performance depending on the underlying network technology used.
  3. VDSL – delivered over copper cabling from the telephone exchange, VDSL should be avoided if faster options are available.
  4. ADSL – also delivered over copper networks, ADSL is one of the oldest and slowest cable connection types available. It’s unlikely to be suitable for business use in many areas.

Wireless broadband

As a rule you should opt for a cable connection over a wireless one wherever possible, as cable connections are generally the fastest and more reliable option.

If cable options are limited, however, or if you need a connection on the move, then a wireless broadband connection may be the right solution.

Wireless broadband connections are generally delivered using either mobile (i.e. 5G or 4G) or satellite networks.

Satellite broadband was, until the recent launch of SpaceX’s Starlink service, previously an option of last resort, as satellite connections were generally slow, expensive and had limited data caps.

Starlink has changed all of this. If you’re within an area that enjoys good Starlink coverage (this includes most of New Zealand), you can expect broadband speeds of between 150 – 300Mbps and pretty decent network latency (that ‘ping’ measure we discussed earlier). Starlink continues to launch more and more satellites every month and our customers report regular improvements in performance over time. We can’t say whether this will continue or not, but clearly Starlink has become a very credible option for those requiring wireless broadband, including mobile vets. Just make sure you’re within a serviced area, and it may pay to talk to someone locally who uses the service before splashing out on Starlink dish.

If you can get 4G or 5G wireless broadband then this will generally be a cheaper and better performing option than Starlink, so it pays to do your research.


Improving Wi-Fi

As broadband technology has steadily improved – and the number of devices we use has increased – we’ve found that, when customers have complained about poor internet performance, more often than not they’re describing the performance of their Wi-Fi network.

Wi-Fi is notoriously difficult to troubleshoot as, well, it’s invisible. It’s also affected by a range of factors, such as the number of Wi-Fi networks in the immediate vicinity (all competing and interfering with each other), electromagnetic interference, etc.

As a rule, you should always use 5GHz (rather than 2.4GHz) Wi-Fi if your devices support it. 5GHz (not to be confused with 5G mobile networks – they sound the same, but are different) provides less coverage distance (from the Wi-Fi repeater to your device), but much better performance when you’re in range. We turn 2.4GHz off on our Wi-Fi network, as all of our devices operate on the 5GHz band and we don’t want them connecting to the 2.4GHz network by mistake.

Unless you’re in a very small clinic, you’re also likely to require multiple Wi-Fi repeaters (otherwise known as ‘base stations’). You should have a ‘mesh’ of Wi-Fi repeaters around your building to help eliminate coverage blackspots. Where possible, those Wi-Fi repeaters should themselves be connected to the local network (the LAN) using cable connections. 


Life’s too short for crappy internet

Poor internet performance is not only annoying – it can have negative effects on clinic productivity and overall happiness and wellbeing in the workplace. Follow the steps above to maximise the performance of your internet connection and feel free to reach out to us if you’d like any further advice.


10 Mental Health Tips for Stressed Vets and Nurses

The vet industry can be tough and protecting the mental health of you and your team can be a constant challenge. Here are 10 of our favourite tips for supporting the mental wellbeing of your veterinary practice. 


Use that inner voice to your advantage

Vets and nurses are highly intelligent, highly motivated people. Unfortunately, that can also mean that they’re highly self-critical and can struggle to give themselves credit when credit is due.

Resist the urge to tell yourself to ‘harden up’ or that ‘there are plenty of people out there doing it tougher than you’ – all of us struggle from time to time and our struggles are real.

Tame that inner voice and use it to your advantage. It may seem corny, but take time every day to congratulate yourself for your achievements, no matter how small, and to remind yourself of the things you’re thankful for.

Instead of chastising yourself when things go wrong, treat everything as a learning opportunity. Instead of beating yourself up, accept that everyone makes mistakes and that every mistake gives us an opportunity to learn and improve.


Practice gratitude and forgiveness

A stressful working environment is made that much worse when there’s tension between team members. Thanking others for doing a good job and forgiving them when they slip up can make a huge difference to your outlook and theirs.


Consider charging more

Many vets are struggling with booming demand and limited resources. It can be a difficult decision to put your prices up, but struggling to keep your head above water is not the answer.

Consider raising your prices, either permanently or until demand subsides. This may or may not tamp down the pressure – but even if you’re still flat out, the improved profitability will help in other areas, such as staff recruitment and retention.


Try not to overextend your practice

Yes, it can be difficult to say no to new clients (or, more specifically, new furry friends), but if your practice is at capacity, this can be necessary. There simply aren’t enough vets in the world right now – you burning yourself out is not going to fix that.

Recruiting good vets and nurses is really difficult, so focus on retaining (and not burning out) the team that you have.

First, make sure you’re profitable (see above) then implement strict rules about how many clients and patients you and your team can reasonably see each day.


Choose when and how you’ll donate

Most practices will donate products and services to a good cause. That’s the nature of the industry and the people within it. Many vets give too much, however, and this can result in increased stress and lower profitability.

Choose when and how you’re going to donate. Decide in advance when and how much you can afford and allow for unexpected circumstances (acute patients arriving at short notice, etc.). 

It’s difficult to say no, but you are doing your clients, patients and the community a favour by remaining viable.


Automate your practice

Automate as many repetitive and mundane tasks as possible to make you and your team more efficient. Accept bookings online (consider only accepting bookings online if it would free people up from the phones), automate reminders and use consult and sales templates to minimise the amount of data entry you need to do each day. 

This will help to reduce stress levels and, as you’ll be doing less mundane stuff, it will make work more fun. As an added benefit, you’ll reduce missed appointments, missed charges, etc.

Systems like Panacea, our cloud-based veterinary practice software, allow you to automate the mundane daily tasks and simplify your workload. Click here to sign up for your complimentary demo and 30-day free trial.


Move difficult customers on

We all know how difficult it is to deal with customers who are rude, threatening or bullying. These customers are not only bad for your mental health but, because they’re often the first to dispute a bill and to badmouth you to others, they’re typically bad for business also.

Move them on.

There’s no shortage of clients and patients who need your services and who you can build positive relationships with.

Don’t put up with bad behaviour and never let a client blackmail you into treating their animal – this only encourages the bad behaviour.

While you’re at it, ask yourself if there’s anyone on your team who’s a negative influence. It’s hard enough to deal with difficult customers – it’s that much harder if you have a bully on your own team.


Find time out of the clinic

Yes, this does apply to you, as well as the rest of your team. Schedule time when you’re out of the clinic and your phone is turned off. Do something non-work-related, even if it means doing nothing at all.


Check in with others

Checking in on your team, and others within the industry, is not only likely to be beneficial for them, but it can also help improve your own mental health along the way.

Go deeper than simply asking ‘how are you?’. Put time aside to have meaningful conversations and to share your own experiences. 

If you think someone is struggling, then be prepared to ask direct questions about their state of mind.  Don’t be afraid to ask about their stress levels, whether they’ve been having dark or troubling thoughts or even if they’ve been considering self-harm. If you suspect that someone is struggling then don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help – often our fear of awkwardness or embarrassment prevents us from offering help when it’s needed most.


Above all, reach out for help

Veterinary professionals, who can be better at providing help than at seeking it for themselves, are often reluctant to reach out for help. The reasons for this can be complex and many, but it’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Approximately 20% of women and 15% of men will experience depression and a quarter of us will experience anxiety in our lifetimes. Evidence suggests that depression and anxiety rates are higher within the vet profession than within the general population.

Even as a trained medical professional it can be difficult to recognise the signs of depression and anxiety within yourself, particularly if you’re constantly on the run.

Check in with yourself regularly to assess how well you’re coping and whether you’re displaying symptoms of anxiety or depression. Use reputable online tools to assess yourself regularly. People are often surprised at their own results.

Most important, if you need help then don’t hesitate to reach out for it. 

Both the New Zealand Vet Council and the Australian Veterinary Association provide excellent support and resources and your local vet industry body is likely to do the same if you live elsewhere.

If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression then seek medical help. All vet professionals know how important it is for animal owners to seek veterinary advice early and often. The same goes for you – don’t ‘battle on’ see your GP and get help when you need it.

Creating a Sustainable Veterinary Practice

Climate change is possibly the biggest threat to humanity and to animals we’ve ever faced. This is why it’s so important for us all to act now to reduce the environmental impact of our businesses on the world.

At Panacea, we’re doing our part – we are the first carbon neutral vet practice management system in the world. We go to great lengths to minimise our environmental impact (including greenhouse gas production), but we still buy a small amount of carbon offsets each year to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions we can’t avoid.  This is good for the environment but it’s also great for our bottom line, as we save thousands of dollars every year on our electricity, fuel and water bills.

For us, reducing our carbon footprint, and our environmental impact overall, is an ongoing process that never ends. We’re constantly checking, assessing and adjusting our business processes to help drive out waste and reduce carbon emissions.

We’ve learned a lot about creating a sustainable business along the way. Here are a few tips that you can use to reduce your clinic’s environmental impact, for the benefit of the climate and the added respect of your clientele.


Accurate Measurement

Before you can effectively control and reduce the environmental impact of your business, you must first understand what that impact is.  There are hundreds of different tools available online to help you identify and measure your practices greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, waste production/recycling efforts, etc.

Use one of these tools to create a baseline and return to it regularly to measure progress (and so you know how many carbon credits you’re going to need if you’re aiming to be carbon neutral).


Waste Reduction and Recycling

While some amount of waste is unavoidable, a lot can be helped by starting with a clear, firm policy and providing friendly reminders such as signs or team meetings to help everyone form effective waste reduction habits.

Aside from just rubbish and recycling, add in further bins to diversify your waste streams and ensure more waste will be given new life. Common waste streams may include paper, plastic, glass, metal, and even a compost bin for food scraps. 

Check to see if there are any medical waste recycling options in your area.  If so you may find that you can recycle waste that can’t be recycled via council collection (such as IV fluid bags and lines, vials, soft packaging, surgical gloves, etc.)

The Waste Hierarchy – Source: NSW EPA (AU)


Energy Efficiency

We identify everything within our business that uses energy (whether it be electricity, petrol, etc.) and choose products that are energy efficient. Low-draw fluorescent lights and fuel efficient vehicles are some examples, but you can even turn off appliances at the wall when they’re not being used, as these can still draw a small amount of power.

Try utilising natural light as much as possible by opening up some curtains and repositioning furniture that may be blocking windows.

Consider insulating your building (or asking your landlord) with up-to-standard insulation and getting rid of drafts. This will create a more regulated temperature inside, no matter the season. An upfront investment may save you not only on your environmental impact, but also money on heating and cooling your practice. 


Supplier Selection

The amount of carbon that your suppliers produce in the provision of products and services to you counts towards your carbon footprint, so it’s important to select sustainable suppliers wherever possible.

We select suppliers who are serious about minimising carbon emissions and also those who make it easy for us to estimate the amount of carbon they produce. This simplifies the process of calculating our own carbon footprint.

You can also reduce supply chain emissions by reducing the number of courier deliveries in and out of your clinic.  Try minimising the number of suppliers that you use and the number of orders you place each month.  Encourage customers to buy those toys, food and flea products while they’re in-store, etc.


Green Energy

Where possible, we use green energy sources, such as solar power generation. Most vet practices operate during the day, which makes them excellent consumers of solar energy.

Unfortunately this isn’t an option for us at the office, but we work from home a lot of the time and members of the team have implemented green energy sources. 

Beyond the energy saved by working from home, which is often not possible in a veterinary practice, we don’t use natural gas in any of our facilities and work to reduce water usage. 

Some ways you can cut back on water are: bringing reusable water bottles instead of using cups that have to be washed; install water-efficient taps; and keep on top of the building manager/owner to quickly repair any leaks.  Perform regular water audits and discuss strategies with the team for reducing water usage, including turning off taps while scrubbing up, for example.


Minimise Travel

This is a lot easier in a post-lockdown world, as most of us are now much more comfortable with remote meetings. Whether it’s with clients or business partners, consider an online meeting to save travel time, cost and added emissions. 

Consider offering online consultations, as these will help reduce client and patient travel.  Although they can be a bit awkward at first, you’ll often find clients appreciate the convenience of an online consult.

Communicate your carbon reduction efforts with your team and with your customers and suppliers and to encourage them to reduce their own carbon emissions.  You could encourage staff and clients to walk or cycle in (rather than drive), for example.


Offsetting Carbon Production

Unfortunately most businesses can’t avoid producing at least some amount of greenhouse gasses, so offsetting carbon emissions is the only way for them to become carbon neutral.  

There are many ways to offset your carbon emissions, but if you’re serious about being carbon neutral you’ll want to make sure your carbon offset efforts are credible and realistic. No, planting a couple of trees in your garden is unlikely to get you there (trust us – we looked into this).

At Panacea we buy carbon credits to offset our emissions.  Every carbon credit we buy offsets one tonne of greenhouse gasses that we produce.

We buy carbon offsets from reputable, audited companies that are ethical and that engage in carbon offset projects that we can support (such as re-forestation, etc.) These companies can not only provide evidence of how they offset our carbon emissions, but also that there’s no ‘double counting’ going on (i.e. so they’re offsetting an appropriate amount of carbon to match the amount of carbon credits they sell).

Cover image by Ashes Sitoula via Unsplash.