Leap Years, Planets and Practice Management

By Scott Zimmerman posted 03-08-2024 09:56


leap year Moon

If you often feel like you run circles around your practice to make up for lost time, you can find comfort in the fact that Planet Earth does too. In fact, the Earth circles the sun every 365.24 days, but we count each year as 365 days. In order to make that up, we have to add an extra day to the calendar every four years – February 29. Without a leap year, we would gradually start to see our days -- and eventually years -- fall short.

That extra day might feel like a fleeting gift since you were so busy at your practice that you hardly realized you had it. I know that was the case for me. 

Keeping balls in orbit seems to be commonplacee, and I try extremely hard to find equal balance between the three planets that are my universe:  Planet Numbers, Planet Team, and Planet Life.

Let me start with Planet Numbers, a passion for some of you and a stressor for others. I have been spending a good part of each of my days focused on the financial picture of our practice. I am not going to lie, lots of work and life responsibilities have put me a tad behind schedule with reviewing how things worked out in 2023 and how they are going this far. I have revised my annual budgets, starting with monthly projections. Naturally, this leads to a discussion on pricing and all that goes along with that in the hospital. Cost of goods sold, inventory, service fees, fixed costs and facility needs spin around in my head like shooting stars.  And then there is the challenge of trying to make predictions regarding the unpredictable. As you may remember, I am still down a doctor or two so we must be honest with ourselves about what this year could (???) look like. Lots of unknowns in our orbit!

February is the month we give our team raises. So, I really need to stay on top of my game and finalize the 2023 books to be confident about what we can do this year for the team. 

That, of course, brings me to another important spot in my orbit: Planet Team. One of my biggest balance challenges is making sure my team is solid and content. If they know they are supported, they are able to perform most effectively. Even in times of drama, they know I am there to support them.

Managing the team also means recruiting for it. Carefully reviewing the skill set of candidates and how they would fit into our practice setting is one of the most important things I can do. Onboarding new team members and focusing on veteran staff members means I am always assessing ways to strengthen their talents and help them improve their weaknesses through training. No two team members are ever alike, so there is rarely an established formula to follow. That is what keeps Planet Team’s orbit so interesting and challenging.

Finally, there is the planet that can become the most overlooked if you do not balance your priorities: Planet Life. Life is filled with distractions and time suckers. They disrupt your day and can pull you away from things that give you joy. This all being said, I try and find the balance in my day with some things I do just for me. I take a couple of minutes to text a friend to say hi, or to scroll Facebook for a few minutes. My favorite escape is to walk around the outside of my hospital (looking very official, of course) while I get some fresh air and think about what the day ahead holds for me. While taking a walk, I might also carve out a plan to get things done around my house…soon! That way, when we change our clocks this month, I am free to enjoy the extra daylight without unfinished home projects. These steps, though minor, help me keep Planet Life from drifting out of my reach.

What do you hope to do on your Planet Life? I hope this leap year gives you a chance to enjoy it. 


Scott Zimmerman, BFA, CVPM
VHMA President