Preparing Your Practice for Your Vacation

Vacation is good for the soul. You know that. I know that. But, there is no doubt that as a D.C. practicing on your own or in a small practice, it is tough to find the perfect time to leave for more than a day or two.

Yet it is important to your own health to make sure you take an extended break. Think about how you might step away for a week or two – or even a month.

Shut down the office.  I know some D.C.s that will coordinate their travel plans around national holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July.  Doing this allows a built-in excuse to slip away for a few extra days. In the minds of your patients, this makes sense because they are likely doing the same thing.  Just make sure you communicate this well so everyone can plan accordingly.  Not only do you want to mention it during treatment, but have it posted at the reception desk, as well as the treatment rooms.

Hire a locum tenens doctor. If you’re going to be gone more than a week, shutting down your practice isn’t a good option for the treatment of your patients. A locum tenens doctor can temporarily step in and provide care of your patients.

Here are a couple of key points to consider. Make sure you plan ahead and meet the D.C. Bring him into your practice to discuss your treatment style as well as provide an adjustment. This allows you to assure your patients that you have done your due diligence and this is a good short-term care solution while you are away. You’ll also want to contact any managed care organizations to find out how to handle billing for the locum tenens doctor.

If you already have another D.C. in the practice who is covering your time away or you have the locum tenens doctor coming in, you’ll need to do several things to make your absence just a little easier for those in the office.

  • Make sure you back up your computer and anything else that may be used.  If something were to happen while you were away, you’d be able to restore information to when you last accessed it.
  • Provide passwords to your computer and any pertinent systems staff might need to access. 
  • Leave a phone number where you can be reached in case of emergency.  Surprises happen, so make sure your staff knows how to contact you if there is something you need to deal with immediately.  And, be clear in what you think constitutes an emergency. You don’t want the phone to be ringing every 10 minutes with the day-to-day business. 
  • If you will be unreachable, let your staff know when you’ll check in.  It’s one thing if you will be reachable, but if you are going on a cruise or a trip to a remote area, your cell phone just may not work.  You’ll still want to be available for any timely questions, so designate a time when you’ll be available.
  • Leave a list of key contacts.  Identify who you use for building maintenance, snow removal, accounting, etc.

How you prepare your office for your vacation will set the tone for this time away and your future travels. Make it good and you’ll be able to go off to parts unknown again soon.

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