Self Evaluation

Self evaluation is important for veterinarians. We want to do the very best we can for our patients, clients, teammates and ourselves.  You probably already evaluate yourself informally, as you go through your day, and perhaps on the drive home.  Consider also periodically evaluating yourself formally, with a checklist of criteria important for success.
Feedback is always helpful when determining what is working and what needs work.  For a well-rounded, accurate assessment of yourself, consider implementing a 360 degree evaluation in your practice, in which each person is evaluated by themselves, others on the team, and possibly even clients.
S: Subjective variables that relate to success include relationship quality, communication skills and attitude.  How are your relationships with your boss, coworkers and clients?  Do you communicate well?  Do you work together as a team?  How is your attitude towards your job, towards others?  How are others’ attitudes towards you?  Are there red flags of impending conflict?
O: Objective criteria are easier to measure, but are also easier to oversimplify or misinterpret.  If the team is getting along well, and pets are well cared for but the number of patients you see a day is down from normal, have you succeeded or failed?  I would contend you are succeeding with room for improvement.  Fortunately, if subjective measures of success are positive, objective measures of success will usually reflect that.  As my Dad always says, “Practice good medicine, and the money will follow.”
So what are good objective criteria to measure and track?  A few to consider are number of patients per day and overall income for a day/week/month/year.  Just remember that each statistic only tells part of the overall story.
A: Assessment of the data is the next step.  Consider the subjective and objective data you have just gathered and determine what you are doing well and what needs improvement.  Again, using the 360 degree evaluation concept, either formally, with standardized questions prepared ahead of time, or informally, by asking others for their feedback on your performance, will help you develop a more accurate assessment.
P: Plan how you are going to improve problem areas and maintain what you are doing well.  With your assessment in front of you, this is the time for goal setting, for dreaming even.  You are back where you started-envisioning success, but now it is even better, you are envisioning success with a personalized checklist of things to restore, develop and maintain.
Recheck: If you have found that things are going pretty well, you may want to revisit your self-evaluation quarterly.  If you have problem areas that have been revealed, perhaps a weekly self-evaluation is in order until all is well.  Write out your plan and jot a note on the calendar on the date that you plan to revisit your self evaluation.
Sound familiar? I thought it’d be easier to remember that way, Doctor.
This was first published on The Wagging Tail for Veterinary Professionals on February 24, 2010.

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