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Urgent care is stressful. It deals with fast decisions, requires full concentration, and needs a complete team effort. While urgent care (mostly) doesn’t equal the intense stress of an emergency room, it still holds its fair share of on-your-feet thinking and challenging cases. Walk-in patients often vary widely in needs, and staff always needs to be ready for anything.

In this fast-paced environment, burnout and over stress are commonly felt by urgent care staff. Even for those providers, technicians, and personnel who love practicing medicine, the wearing environment of the clinic can sometimes be too much. If your staff are suffering from overwork or are having a hard time dealing with the environment, a little encouragement can go a long way.

Here are a few ways you can help encourage your urgent care staff.

1. Rotate staff or change assignments

While many urgent cares have floating staff, you can help give providers a change of scene by assigning them to different locations (if you have more than one clinic), and you can change up assignment types or vary hours—to give diversity. Sometimes, a simple change of atmosphere in a typical routine can get staff out of a rut if they are feeling burnout.

2. Encourage (guilt-free) time off

You’ll quickly notice how those who love their jobs overwork themselves, often to a point that’s unhealthy. While passion is a good sign, overworking is not. Encourage your dedicated staff to take time off—to pursue what’s important to them outside of work. Being away from the chaos of the clinic, and spacing vacation days deliberately through the year, can help staff alleviate stress. Do not guilt staff for taking PTO, and set a healthy example by encouraging all staff to use vacation hours.

3. Offer (or encourage attending) counseling

Broken arms and bronchitis may not be the same as losing a patient like in a hospital setting, but your urgent care staff may face traumatic patient situations—or find it difficult to face specific patient relationship issues. Counseling after a difficult event, either offered on site or promoted as a continuous employee assistance program, can help staff accept and address situations that are uncomfortable or mentally damaging to them.

4. Have incentive or reward systems

Nothing encourages employees more than rewarding them for outstanding behavior. Clear reasons for promotion and set employee expectations give staff a guideline for their future—and helps set a trajectory for achievements. Additional incentives, such as bonuses or words of praise, can make the difference between a positive working environment and a place where staff don’t want to work. Treat staff to events such as a lunch out or team celebration for jobs well done, too.

5. Foster personal relationships

Relationships are what keep staff working at your clinic. While an inner drive to serve patients is the underlying engine driving staff, the place they practice is important to them. Staff want to matter. Employee-management relationships, care, and recognition of important life events deepens working relationships. Strong peer relationships also create a stronger, more cohesive environment. Building respect and trust among staff is as critical as technical skills.

6.  Add fun and laughter to daily routines

Sure, urgent care is serious. But the grind of giving yet another flu shot or treating another burned patient can get taxing. If repeat visits are getting staff down, try to add a little levity to their daily routine. A quick game at the beginning of the day, jokes in the break room, or humor in appropriate situations lighten up the whole day—and can get patients smiling too.

Keeping an upbeat staff is important, because in urgent care your staff is your business. Invest in the hard working people who are pouring their hearts into serving your patients every day. Treating your urgent care staff well will help keep spirits high and provide motivations—which will be reflected in how they address patients.

Find tips for training your urgent care staff in these helpful articles, Part 1 and Part 2.

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.

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