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One of the most challenging parts of clinical practice is trying to balance it all. From providing best care for patients, finishing your notes in a timely fashion, keeping up with your email inbox, & all the other things that come up throughout the week, it’s not easy.
But the overachiever you are, you’re probably trying to get it all done, ya know, as part of being a team player.
That’s definitely what I did when I first started. My schedule was full from morning to evening with patients, fitting in documentation whenever I could (mainly at lunch or after my last patient), always on email, & also saying yes to extra projects, because I thought it would demonstrate my value as a physical therapist.
But it wasn’t until I heard this game-changing advice that I finally started prioritizing what really mattered, & quit working literally all hours of the day & night:
“Quit folding your underwear.”
Y’all. When I tell you I was AGHAST when I first heard this, it’s the truth. I couldn’t believe my ears.
But that podcast host was totally right. While I still wash & dry all my clothes, folding underwear is not going to make or break my life. In fact, I now save a little time every Sunday because I don’t fold them (I use a handy drawer organizer like this one).
10 ways to save time:
1. Use technology to your advantage.
Technology gets a lot of hate these days, but it’s really a tool (that can be used for good or bad). It’s up to us to use technology for the benefit of our patients & ourselves.
First, use templates in your documentation. Templates don’t mean that every single patient gets a cookie-cutter experience. My templates allow me to capture necessary info from each patient, without forgetting the important stuff.
Another way to use tech to your advantage is with your clinic management system. The system I’m using currently is Jane App. Total game-changer! It’s my online booking system, scheduler, documenting, & billing all in one. Plus I can make templates for my charts that are totally customizable.
2. Outsource non-clinical tasks like cleaning or laundry services to free up more time.
Outsourcing non-clinical tasks like cleaning or laundry services can be an effective way for you to free up more time for patient care. By hiring outside vendors to handle these tasks, you can focus on their core responsibilities & ensure that their clinics are running smoothly. This can improve the overall patient experience, as you can dedicate more time to working directly with your patients.
Outsourcing can also help to reduce stress and burnout, especially if you feel overwhelmed by the demands of patient care. Additionally, outsourcing can provide cost savings, as it may be more affordable to hire specialized cleaning or laundry services than to hire staff to handle these tasks in-house.
3. Avoid overbooking appointments and scheduling patients too close together, as it can lead to rushed treatments and decreased quality of care.
Overbooking appointments & scheduling patients too close together can lead to rushed treatments, decreased quality of care, & a negative impact on the patient experience. When you’re overburdened with appointments, you may not have adequate time to collect needed data or synthesize your findings, leading to suboptimal outcomes.
Additionally, running behind schedule can cause stress for both you and your patient, leading to decreased satisfaction & increased likelihood of errors. By scheduling appointments with sufficient time between each patient, you can ensure adequate time to provide quality care & avoid running behind schedule.
This can also improve your patient’s overall experience, as patients are more likely to feel that their needs have been met and that they have received the care they need.
4. Set boundaries and limit interruptions during treatment sessions.
Big sources of interruptions for PTs? Phone calls & emails. (For more info on how email is NOT quadrant 1, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.)
Setting boundaries and limiting interruptions during treatment sessions is crucial to providing quality care and improving patient outcomes. Interruptions can be a major source of stress and distraction, especially when you need to remain focused and attentive during your sessions.
Additionally, interruptions can disrupt the therapeutic process and decrease the effectiveness of treatment. By setting clear boundaries around treatment sessions and communicating these boundaries to patients, you can create a more focused and productive treatment environment. This can lead to better outcomes and a more positive patient experience.
5. Plan and prioritize daily tasks to minimize time wasted on less important activities.
Planning and prioritizing daily tasks is essential for you to maximize their productivity and minimize time wasted on less important activities. By creating a daily task list and prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance, you can ensure that you’re spending your time on the most critical activities. This can help to improve the quality of patient care, as you can then focus on the most important tasks and ensure that they are meeting patient needs.
Prioritization can also help you manage your workload more effectively, reducing stress and preventing burnout. By avoiding non-essential tasks or delegating them to support staff, you can free up more time to focus on patient care and achieve better outcomes.
Again, is email truly going to make or break your day as a physical therapist? Most likely not.
6. Quit saying yes to things that don’t move the needle in your practice/career.
For example, creating marketing materials when your company has a whole marketing department.
Learning to say “no” to things that don’t move the needle in your practice or career can be challenging. However, this is an essential skill that can lead to greater success and job satisfaction.
Agreeing to tasks or commitments that do not align with your goals or values can lead to burnout, decreased productivity and decreased motivation. Saying “no” allows you to focus on what’s important and allocate your time and energy towards activities that move the needle. This can lead to better patient outcomes, increased job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
It is important for physical therapists to assess their priorities and only say “yes” to opportunities that align with their values and goals, to ensure that they are making the most of their time and energy.
7. Train and delegate certain responsibilities to support staff.
Training and delegating certain responsibilities to support staff can be a smart strategy for physical therapists to reclaim some of their time and focus on providing high-quality patient care. By training support staff to handle certain tasks such as scheduling appointments, completing paperwork, or performing basic exercises, you can reduce your admin workload & free up time for more valuable (& frankly enjoyable) activities.
Delegating responsibilities to support staff can also help you ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and accurately, reducing the risk of errors and improving the overall quality of care. Additionally, training and delegating can help to develop a more cohesive and collaborative team, with each member contributing to the success of the practice.
Overall, training and delegating responsibilities to support staff can be a win-win for both you and your practice.
8. Take advantage of continuing education courses to increase efficiency and improve clinical skills.
If you don’t feel comfortable or confident with a particular patient population, diagnosis, or skill (but you want to), then put yourself in the room to LEARN.
By learning how to treat *insert population/diagnosis/skill*, you’ll be able to work faster, more effectively, & with better results for your patients. One of the best ways to do this is via continuing education.
If you’re looking for more help on how to treat your patients with cancer, then DEFINITELY check out Cancer Basics Course.
9. Incorporate self-care practices into daily routines to prevent burnout and maintain mental and physical health.
Working over your lunch break is a fast-track to burnout. Let me explain:
Incorporating self-care practices into daily routines is critical for you to prevent burnout, maintain their mental and physical health, and provide high-quality patient care. The demanding nature of the job can cause physical therapists to neglect their own needs, leading to stress, anxiety, and decreased job satisfaction.
Prioritizing self-care practices such as regular exercise, meditation, mindfulness, and healthy eating habits helps you improve your overall well-being and resilience to stress. This can help you maintain your energy and focus, leading to better patient outcomes and a more positive patient experience.
Furthermore, incorporating self-care practices into daily routines can help prevent burnout & promote career longevity. By taking care of YOU, you can continue to provide high-quality care for your patients while maintaining your own physical and mental health.
So stop working over your lunch break!
10. Create a standardized approach to treatment planning and assessment to reduce the time spent on documentation.
Creating a standardized approach to treatment planning and assessment is an effective way to reduce the amount of time spent on documentation. By developing a consistent process for patient evaluation, goal setting, and progress tracking, you can streamline the documentation process and minimize the time spent on paperwork. This can also help to improve the quality of care by ensuring that all patients receive a thorough and consistent evaluation, and that your treatment plans are tailored to their individual needs.
Additionally, a standardized approach can facilitate communication and collaboration among the therapy team, as everyone is working from the same framework. By reducing the time spent on documentation, we can focus more of our energy on providing high-quality patient care and improving patient outcomes.
Grab your seat in Cancer Basics Course LIVE!
Are you ready for a continuing education course that actually teaches you the what AND the how of treating oncology patients? Then you’re going to love Cancer Basics Course.
Grab your seat now at TheOncoPT.com/cancerbasics!
Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.