The owner of the practice where I'm an associate recently approached me about "being available" on the weekends when he's
out of town. I already work a few Saturdays a month and I'm worried that working more will conflict with my free time.
"You need to discuss with your owner exactly what 'being available' means," says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, a consultant with Gatto McFerson in Santa Monica, Calif.
"If he's talking about two weekends a year, the situation is fairly simple," she says. "I would agree to do it—simply as part
of being on a team—and ask to be paid an hourly rate for the time you spend in the hospital dealing with patients."
It gets complicated if the owner's thinking of a more frequent arrangement. "It's fair to ask that these weekends—with rare
exceptions—coincide with the Saturdays you already work and that they don't conflict with weekends when you've already made
plans," Dr. Felsted says. Again, ask to be paid an hourly rate for your time in the clinic.
Dr. Felsted recommends discussing with the owner how much notice you'll need. Is the owner planning these trips in advance
or does he want to do things on the fly? "A couple of weeks' notice is fair," she says. "Maybe you'd occasionally be willing
to do a spur-of-the-moment thing, but it's not reasonable to expect you to do that regularly."