S1 E10 How Veterinary Doctors Can Use Technology To Improve Work Life Balance With Galaxy Vets
Updated: 5 days ago
Tara Mccarthy from galaxyvets.com & Melissa from conciergeelite.com discusses the story of Tara's professional journey, which started with working hard to get into veterinary school and then moving to New Zealand for an adventure. As a young mother, she had a dark patch, working long hours while raising two children. After returning to Canada and finding herself unable to find a work-life balance, deciding to leave private practice and switch to health and wellness consulting. Now works part-time from home, helping other people find balance. Tara reflects on her time as a veterinarian and how she eventually changed careers to become a teacher. She talks about the challenges of balancing work and life and recommends that people find ways to be happy at work. Humans are naturally pessimistic, and can lead to unhappiness in social media-driven environments. They also discuss the importance of happiness in one's professional and personal lives and recommend self-examining what makes someone happy. Tara also suggests ways employers can retain employees, including paying them more, providing more breaks, and recognizing employees. Finally, they talk about how technology is changing veterinary practices and how veterinarians are moving faster than other industries in adopting new technologies. This episode discusses the possible effects of a recession on veterinary medicine and how Galaxy Vets is trying to help its members by providing financial assistance, technology advances, and employee ownership. It also mentions that if you are looking for a change in your career or need help with your business, Galaxy Vets is always happy to help.
00:08 Melissa Today's podcast is brought to you by Concierge Melissa B. Conciergeelite provides dedicated remote front desk staff and virtual assistants to your office. We specialize in finding your office the perfect and right fit for your office and your office only, full or part time. Your remote team member is just that, yours. We do all the hiring, the recruiting and training. Yes, the training. It's one of the things that makes us unique as we train your dedicated remote team member in your systems and software.
00:37 Melissa Welcome to understaffed. My name is Melissa Brown and today I have with me a very special guest. I have Tara McCarthy. Now, Tara is a veterinarian with over 16 years of experience in private practice, both in large and small animals. She has a background in health and wellness, along with her career in veterinary medicine. Tara owns a cross fit gym with her husband and has an online health and wellness business with a team of over 800 people. Amazing.
01:05 Melissa Amazing.
01:05 Melissa Her particular passion is helping working moms, especially DVM moms, with their health and nutrition.
01:12 Tara Mc Carthy Perfect.
01:13 Melissa Perfect.
01:13 Melissa I am so glad she's talking with us today. Now, her role as heading Community Engagement Galaxy Vets is what brings her today. Tara is focused on attracting like minded people that want to change the course of their veterinary industry and live a life of passion and fulfillment. Now, if you are not in the veterinary industry, still, stay tuned. I want you to hear what Tara has to say because she is going to give you some valuable information on how you can really have a work life balance, really things that you can do to focus in and attract what you're wanting to come to you. So let's welcome Para McCarthy.
01:53 Tara Mc Carthy Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here and chat today.
01:56 Melissa Yes, and I was telling the listeners at the top your bio and you have so many years within the private practice as a veterinarian, but then now you're in the health and wellness field. I'm sure we're going to talk about that today and how you made that transition. It's exciting to have kind of that perspective. So I'm glad you're here. So we're going to get started. Tell us about your professional journey and how that came to be.
02:26 Tara Mc Carthy Yeah, absolutely. So, like most vets, wanted to be a vet my whole life from a very young age. I worked really hard through school to get into that school. When I graduated, like most veterinarians, you think you're going to change the world with veterinary medicine. And so 16 years ago, I graduated. I wanted an adventure. I moved to New Zealand in practice for a couple of years. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry about that. I moved to New Zealand for a couple of years for an adventure. I did mostly large animal, but mixed animal. We did everything I was in very rural New Zealand, so anything that kind of got thrown at you did a lot of dairy, lot of horses, but then lots of dogs and cats to get to work on wildlife, elk farming. I really got a great taste of lots of different things and had a lot of fun.
03:27 Tara Mc Carthy I moved back to Canada because sadly, New Zealand dollars couldn't pay my Canadian loans. My debt that I had racked up wasn't really getting paid off. I moved back to Canada, started doing large animal medicine because I've always kind of been more of a large animal, vet horses and cows and I was working. When you're a young vet, your profession is your life. And I was working a lot. There were times in that part of my life when I was working 60 to 80 hours a week, making decent money, but probably wasn't the best thing to be doing. I got married and had a kid and my whole life got flipped upside down and my priorities and what I wanted and I just was like, what is going on? What have I done? I spent all this time studying and building up loans and you have such a narrow set of skill sets, all you can be as a vet because that's what I trained to be.
04:38 Tara Mc Carthy I had huge loans, so I still like, I had to work. So, yeah, I had a really dark patch as a young mother, I would say practicing. When I went back to practice after by motley where I just really resented the profession and I felt completely pigeonholed in it. Yeah. And there was really no way out. Then I had another child. My husband and I, we moved around a lot. We were basically just flying by the seat of our pants because neither one of us knew what were supposed to do. We just weren't happy with how things are going. We started a gym and we moved. I started working part time, mentally, like financially, yes, I should have been working full time, but mentally I could not do it and still be a decent mother, I think. I went back part time and that's when I kind of life just kind of makes you look at your life and you get to a point where you have to make changes.
05:37 Tara Mc Carthy That's where I kind of started getting into health and wellness. I found something that really helped me personally and I started feeling better, having more energy, looking at things a little differently, and then it just kind of started to snowball and I started to be able to help other people do that. I started to have the side business from home, working part time, still kind of 1ft in both. Started loving the profession a little more, being able to see it from a different life and having a little more freedom and flexibility because I had that business at home and really, that's what I had been doing all along. COVID hit. Things went crazy, which we can talk about. I was still practicing at that point. And then yeah, Ivan Zach, dr. Ivan Zach reached out to me last fall, almost a year ago now, and mentioned what he was doing with Galaxy.
06:26 Tara Mc Carthy Vet was completely new to me. I was really excited about what his mission was and what he was trying to do, and I was ready for a change and to do something new and grow a little more. As of February of this year, I left practice and I've been with Galaxy.
06:45 Melissa Wow, what a journey. I know that's so put into a nutshell there, but I can hear some really big life changes within that. I think so many people can identify with what you're saying as being a female and having to figure out that work life balance. Do I have a family? Do I have a career? What does that look like? Can I reinvent what it should be? I know I have that experience as well myself. Really kind of the change of, is this how you want to spend your life? Do you want to spend your life as a veterinarian, what you spent all the money on your whole life thinking you wanted to do, so really reevaluating. Do you ever regret becoming a vet?
07:27 Tara Mc Carthy I definitely don't now. I think it's an absolutely amazing profession, but I did have to back away from it to get that different perspective. Yeah, for sure. When I went back to work after my daughter was born, I was removed again. I was full time large animal. I was on call every other night, every other weekend. There were mornings I didn't see her. I was going on calls before she was awake and I wasn't home until she was in bed. I was like, what am I doing? What I was doing? Yeah, for sure. There was a time, and I think everybody has that probably in any career. I know many veterinarians who have really dark periods for varying lengths of time. That was for sure mine when I was completely regretting my decision.
08:15 Melissa Yeah. There's a study out that found that 47% of veterinarians would recommend the profession. Now, this is down from 76, and we're seeing this within the veterinary field, but I think we're seeing it really across the board. I think I can say this truly for, like you just said, for so many professions, we're starting to see declines in the attractiveness of them. I was talking to somebody who's in manufacturing and they were like, what is going on? Nobody wants to do this business anymore. And I'm like, it's just not yours. Why do you think the veterinary industry is becoming so unattractive?
08:52 Tara Mc Carthy Yeah, I completely relate. My family are all teachers and none of them would recommend being a teacher. It's so funny, I'm probably the only one who's not a teacher at me but I think it's just over time society has changed, technology has advanced dramatically and that's had good and bad effects for sure. On the veterinary side of things, it's definitely allowed us to provide better quality medicine standard of care for our patients. People want more like the humanization of pets, like they're a family member now and so they want them to be treated like a family member. And that's awesome. It's been so great to be able to advance medicine that way. The flip side of that is it gets very emotional and social media and Dr. Google and all of these other things that are available there to them can completely destroy relationships and can completely tear down clinics and individuals with complaints and that stuff based on veterinarians have no way to really shield themselves from that.
10:03 Tara Mc Carthy We can't defend ourselves because of confidentiality. We can't tell our side of the story. Basically we've been just taking those beatings and smiling. That's one side of it for sure. I think the changing demographic in all of the professions veterinary medicine specifically used to be a very male dominated profession and now it's very female dominated. The males, those older males that kind of took over in they're kind of retiring and it's more mostly a female driven industry and we want different things especially like if we have families and that kind of thing. What you think as a young grad and then when your life changes like nobody prepares you for that kind of stuff. Those are a couple of the big things, I think and then just the differences in generations, the work life balance and what the newer generations, the younger generations want out of life.
11:12 Tara Mc Carthy They don't want to live to work, they just want to work to live.
11:17 Melissa Yeah, that's so correct. That's exactly the conversation I was having. It's a lot within our generations. They are changing, their priorities are changing, the type of work they want to do is changing. It's no longer work with our hands necessarily unless it's a cell phone but the generation is different. Where we come from, my generation, it's about hard work in the fields or hard work manufacturing those hands on jobs, building the trades and now it's becoming less and less that and more what can I do that's going to create balance in my life? I think the generation is a lot about I want to work hard, fine, but three days a week and then I want to play the rest. It's a different balance. Even though what we think of I think of work life balances balancing my seven children and working a 40 hours week, not necessarily I want to work three and play the other four.
12:17 Melissa So what about work life balance. Tell us a little bit about that. How are you able to do that and what would you recommend in terms of work life balance for our listeners?
12:27 Tara Mc Carthy Oh, man, work life balance is such a tough one because it's still really hard to define. I think it's so personal and also based on your stage of life, like your work life balance when you're young versus midlife versus the end of your career, it's going to be very different, like what you want. For me, I kind of define work life balance as freedom, as much freedom as you have on either side of those things. And what creates that is choice. The more choices that you have available to you, the more balance you can create for you. Because your coworker and you may seem very similar and you practice the same way, but what they want and what you want, they're very different. If you have choices available to you can kind of mold what works for you and they can mold what works for them and work out better.
13:22 Tara Mc Carthy I don't really view work life balance as making it equal between work and life. You have satisfaction in your work and you have satisfaction in your life and they feed off of one another. I really think on the light side of things is really I don't think we think about our happiness enough and what makes you happy. And that's going to change. Like, it completely changes. Right now, what makes me happy is being involved in my kids stuff. Like, I'm a four H leader and I take my daughter to horse shows and like, my husband's a hockey. It's like, that's the kind of stuff that we like right now and that really brings us joy. It probably won't be the case in ten years down the road when we're off the university. Right? You have to find ways to fit more of that stuff in, do the stuff that makes you happy.
14:17 Tara Mc Carthy On the work side of things, all of us have things about work that we like because that's why we do it. Veterinarians get into veterinary medicine because they want to help. They enjoy it, they enjoy the work. It's intellectual, but not everybody likes the same thing. I really think creating a collaborative team so you all can work on the things that you like to doesn't mean you're not going to have crappy stuff you have to do. I mean, we all do on both sides, right? You can find ways to really increase your happiness on both sides of that. I think that's great. Just knowing it's going to change, it's going to evolve as you evolve.
14:59 Melissa Right. I think you hit it on the head with that. It's not necessarily a 50, but it's about finding happiness in both of the things that you do. I think that sometimes is a challenge to people. It's because we don't actually know what makes us happy. That's a dig deep, isn't it?
15:19 Tara Mc Carthy Holy and I think people are so I was going to say this earlier, too, but I just think the other part, the reason all of the percentages are decreasing for recommending whatever profession humans by nature are kind of negative. Nellies and Misery loves company. With social media, I think we just talk about the problems of everything all the time, which for sure we need to talk about the problems to get the solutions, I guess. We don't celebrate the good stuff enough. We don't pay attention to when we feel good. I think we don't feel good. We focus on that and we think about why we don't feel good and we really narrow down. It makes you feel worse because you start thinking about that problem. When you feel good, you're not really digging in to be like, why do I feel good? What is it that's making me feel good?
16:06 Tara Mc Carthy Trying to then realize what does make you happy? Right?
16:10 Melissa Yeah, somebody posed that to me, I don't know, maybe about a year ago now. They said, well, what makes you happy? I'm like, well, then you start listing things off and you're like, well, wait a minute, do those things really make me happy? You're having to do this self examination of, oh, my gosh, what makes me truly happy? What gets me excited? You have to dig deep when you want work life balance, I think you have to dig deep within yourself. You're going to have to determine and make some choices and say, listen, is this what truly makes me happy inside both in life and in my business? Find those and it's going to be a discovery of yourself. And I know you did that, right?
16:55 Tara Mc Carthy Absolutely, yeah. I was just going to say sorry. I just think happiness is a state of mind. It's deciding that you're going to be a happy person. I read a cool thing not that long ago, but it's like an emotion kept long enough turns into a mood, and that mood kept long enough turns into a temperament, and that temperament left long enough, turns into a personality, and your personality creates a reality, right? If you want to change your reality, you got to go back and start changing your emotions and trying to extend those periods of time with the good stuff. I love that.
17:32 Melissa I love that. I'm going to have to write that one down. I love that. Now when we talk about within the practice and we can kind of talk about our people and you kind of touched on it about finding what makes the little adjustments within our business that makes our employees happy and all of that, we talk about retraining and retaining employees and recruiting. Do you have any tips on how employers can really be successful in that?
18:05 Tara Mc Carthy Yeah, that's the topic of the hour. I think retention, right, it's an urgent need everywhere. I mean, since the great resignation of COVID veterinary medicine obviously no different. You really want to keep those people that you have. I think firstly, I would say sometimes you're not actually doing anything wrong. Like, just you don't have control over other people's lives, and stuff happens. Maybe they're not unhappy with their job, but their husband is moving or there's a family member sick. Sometimes that stuff just happens and it sucks, but that's just reality and you could do anything and everything, but it's not going to change that situation. I do think I still have lots of friends that are private vet, clinic owners, and they beat themselves up over stuff that they really can't control. I would say that firstly, but I think really like to keep people from leaving you and just going down the street to another job or taking something online is really creating that great culture.
19:09 Tara Mc Carthy Which culture is, I don't know, it's a hard one to define too. A healthy work life, I guess, where you have open communication. I think trust communication and connectedness is key in your team so that you feel psychologically safe to speak up. You have open dialogue about how they view the culture, what they want, what they need, how they want to be recognized, how they feel appreciated. You can constantly have that feedback within your team and they feel comfortable talking to you, but you're constantly asking. Not just a one and done type thing, because things are always changing. I think making allowing a team to feel comfortable and heard and appreciated is definitely key. I think in the veterinary side of things, especially for technicians and assistants and things, is if you can pay them more, those positions are definitely not compensated enough for the extreme physical and emotional toll that they play.
20:18 Tara Mc Carthy They're on their feet or wrestling dogs all day, constantly dealing with frustrated, grieving, angry clients. It's a huge task. If you can pay them more or just give them more, pay time off if you can, so they can have more breaks. Again, I think recognition is key. My old clinic, we did the language of love. I don't know if you've done that before, but it's like the five languages of love and we all took the test. My boss to kind of know what we really like, to be like, how we like to feel recognized and appreciated. It went a long way because not everybody wants the same things. I think if you have a small enough place where you can do that's a great thing to do. I think not just recognition from top down, I think creating that culture of people appreciating each other, like coworkers, appreciating each other for who they are and what they do.
21:14 Tara Mc Carthy I've never been an owner in my clinic, I've been an associate, but I always was, like, bringing goodies and telling people good jobs or leaving notes, because I think it just does a lot to increase morale. And then what else? Retention. Right now, I think technology is a huge component right now. There's so many different things, like innovations and different things that you can implement in the clinic. I know a lot of engineering are scared to do that kind of stuff, but if you can improve workflows for your people when you're short staff, that's huge. If you can take some load off of them, yeah, that's a big one.
21:50 Melissa And they are scared. I'm seeing the veterinary come along and I know there's always this funny thing out there that veterinarians is the slowest to do anything in terms of technology and advancing, but working both in some medical, which we do at Concierge Elite, opto dental, things of that nature, and the veterinarians. I'm seeing our veterinarians are moving quicker than some other industries, so I'm very actually very excited for them and moving forward, moving the needle. I think we have to I think COVID forced us to do so and start looking at the things that we're doing. Are they efficient? Are they going to work? What if there's another disaster again? How are we going to get along? How are we going to do business? I think it's a forced thing and I think people need to continue those on. We can't just go, okay, we did that because it was COVID, and now we're going to go back to our old ways, which I am seeing as well.
22:47 Melissa We're going back to the comfortable ways and thinking that was for a small amount of time. We talk about the great resignation, like you mentioned, and of course, needing staff. I think everybody is needing staff. I just recently was in Atlantic City at a convention with veterinarians and it was like everybody who walked by, do you need staff? And everyone's like, yes. Who doesn't? It's one of those things. Of course, that's what we do within Concierge Elite, I know, but I know it's a need and everybody's got it. The one in the few that said, no, I think we're good right now, we're knocking on wood because it changes. Now, how do you think things are going to change in the veterinary field? This is not something we talked about, but I feel like this coming out of the conversation. If there's a recession, how do we think that's going to change in the veterinary?
23:35 Tara Mc Carthy Well, we kind of went through one in 2008 and I will say veterinary medicine is buffered from recession. We are recession proof just because animals are living things and they need care. So, yes, maybe the extras are not going to be done when people are struggling, but at the end of the day, care is often still provided and so we're buffered. However, like in 2008, I remember when that happened, and especially in the States, I remember veterinarians getting laid off and it was crazy because that had never really happened before. Right. You couldn't get a job, which was the opposite now, but that is definitely still a driver. Veterinary medicine, it is a profession of disposable income. Yes, they're animals and they need care and they're part of your family. However, if you have to choose between getting this lump removed on your dog and putting groceries in your cupboard, you're going to choose groceries and covered right, for your children.
24:51 Tara Mc Carthy Yeah, it's definitely a risk, but I think right now, just because of the sheer volume, like the increase in pets to the population over the last couple of years, I do think veterinary medicine will sustain itself. It may not be a gold mine, but I think you can see that already, like consolidators and stuff, stepping back maybe with their crazy purchasing, but they're just being cautious. I don't think we'll see again what we did in 2008 with layoffs and things because I just think there's so many pets. There's just too many pets. There's not enough people right now anyway, so maybe it'll actually even owe it. I don't know. Maybe we won't feel this crazy again.
25:41 Melissa That's what I'm throwing at you. If were to have to cut back, if we're starting to see some a decline, where do you think that people should cut back within their business?
25:55 Tara Mc Carthy That's a good question.
25:58 Melissa I've been looking and researching and I'll just give you a little insight to where I've been looking and researching and coming out with a podcast coming up soon about recession proofing your business. I think that there's different places that we can I think you touched one but making sure that you've moved ahead in your technologies, that you're not using old technologies and making sure that you're super efficient in your business and taking steps to make sure that you are because inefficiencies are going to create waste. One of my big things is don't cut back on your people. Your people, your business. Find the what's, not the who's. I think the first thing people do when they start to panic is think, oh, who am I going to lay off? I would challenge people as being in the human resources and being this is don't look at the who, but look at the what.
26:53 Tara Mc Carthy I completely agree with that and I don't think it would even be a possibility right now with our current state. Yeah, so, like galaxy's policies, we're really going to use Telemedicine. There's a couple of other companies out there that are doing a phenomenal job, but not too many. We definitely have a long way to go in veterinary medicine. For sure we're going to access that. Our membership programs as well will allow people to get exams and use telemedicine without having to pay additional fees. I really feel like that will help with the access care, which is a huge part of what we're trying to do, but also kind of make it more efficient in the workforce and the labor that you have. So. Yeah, I think I completely agree.
27:38 Melissa How can Galaxy Vets help? You just started touch on it but I want you to take a few minutes and tell us about Galaxy Vets.
27:47 Tara Mc Carthy How can it help? Sorry, with what?
27:49 Melissa A practice owner? Yeah.
27:51 Tara Mc Carthy Oh, for sure. Galaxy Vets is we're partnering with practice owners. By doing that, we're making every employee a practice owner, which in ESOP company, there's never been one in veterinary medicine. There's a completely new concept to me, I think it's new to everybody in veterinary medicine. We didn't know what it was, employee stock ownership plan. To me, this is what I got excited about when Ivan started reaching out to me, because the financial stress of student loans and veterinarians, but then also just veterinary technicians and CSRs and assistants, they have a really tough job and they really don't get paid that much. If you can be an owner in this overall company and have something, a nest egg that's growing at the other end for you, and you can be an owner, and you can see the work you put in pays off down the road for you and everybody else, I feel like it just takes of weight off your shoulders.
28:54 Tara Mc Carthy Something else you don't have to worry about quite as much because ESOP companies, I think they say they have two to three times more the retirement savings than 401K companies, which is amazing because you're not actually even contributing any of that, which is the have to contribute and they're just like giving you some of that back. I feel like the financial choice that you're getting there and the extra freedom that you're getting from the financial aspect is huge. Not just for you as the owner, because that's generally how it goes. When a consolidator buys you, the owner gets a big cut. Sorry fat paycheck. It's like, cool guys, I sold you and good luck, I'm going to hang out for a while. This is completely different and it's really creating a collaborative team approach where everybody gets to be an owner and benefit from the growth of the company.
29:48 Tara Mc Carthy I think that to me was the huge part for me for joining. When you start to incorporate the technology which telemedicine. Is definitely one aspect Galaxy is doing. We have some other great novel ideas that aren't being done in veterinary medicine as well that will kind of change and improve workflows and just things are going to allow within our solar system is kind of exciting for just keeping things fresh and exciting for the people that work there. I think that's huge too.
30:23 Melissa Excellent. Galaxy Vets is definitely a good friend of ours, and we love working with you guys. If we ever hear anybody who's looking for a change, looking for needing some help, I know that we always send them your guys'way. Did I hear that Galaxy is hiring?
30:42 Tara Mc Carthy We are. I'm actually looking for two veterinarians right now. I'm looking for one in Virginia and one in Houston. We also have some exciting stuff happening in California, so there will be some positions there in the next few months as well. So I'm pretty excited about that. Excellent. If you're interested, please reach out to me.
31:04 Melissa Yes.
31:04 Melissa How do we get in touch with you guys at Galaxy Vets?
31:07 Tara Mc Carthy Well, for the employment side of things, it's definitely me. I'm the one you want to talk to. So it's Tara at Galaxy Vets.com. Or you can just go to our website, Galaxy Vets.com, and if you kind of register and set up an account with us, then you will receive updates with what's happening and job opportunities and that stuff. So, yeah, tha