Veterinary is an industry experiencing a lot of challenges in the current age. Most clinics are on the verge of closure because veterinarians are leaving due to personal challenges, including contemplating suicide. It’s a sad reality that has raised concern lately, with some doctors trying to look for a solution. Burnout has been the #1 cause of these problems.
What is Burnout and How Is It a Problem?
Burnout is an unintentional endpoint that results from prolonged stress, fatigue, and confusion. Veterinarians are their patients’ caregivers; they have to be empathetic with them because that’s what being a caregiver is all about. It remains a challenge because even non-emotional people can quickly burn out this way due to long hours, sleep deprivation, and frustration at work.
Due to the pandemic, more people have acquired “pandemic pets.” As a result, the vet clinics worldwide are flocking with new patients every day, leaving many veterinarians and veterinary technicians overworked and overstressed, not to mention the lack of veterinary supplies, vaccines, and other even more critical medical needs. The increased demand for services has led to a surge in the prices of veterinary services that have risen twice as much since 2019 globally.
Burnout in a field already suffering a negative reputation in the media and the public eye is a significant problem for veterinarians. A new study shows an increase of 9% compared to last year, with 40% of respondents being either close to burnout or have already reached it. Veterinarians are also affected by their work environment and overworking themselves, leading to stress, anger, anxiety, and confusion, which can cause depression for some veterinarians and veterinary technicians.
That results in pets not receiving the best care they deserve because of the lack of attention from their veterinarian. The increase in fatigue has led many veterinarians and veterinary technicians to take some time off work or leave the industry sometimes at risk without proper medical coverage.
And while the prices increase, the veterinary workload also increases, but the earnings remain constant or increase by a small margin. Factor in the lack of medical insurance and savings, many veterinarians and veterinary technicians are now considering changing careers as a result.
And even though burnout is already hurting the veterinary field, the worst is an increasing number of veterinarians, and veterinary technicians are contemplating suicide. Mental illness is never an easy ailment to bear with the potential of putting a doctor’s life in jeopardy.
Solutions to Burnout and Other Major Veterinary Issues
The solution to the burnout pandemic is simple: recognize the problem, acknowledge it by pushing for changes on a larger scale and then communicate that to employees. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians can improve their burnout problems by doing self-care, advocating for self-care within clinics, encouraging employees to take time off.
Employee empowerment is also important to stress. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians can do their part by making employees feel valuable instead of undervalued all the time. According to statistics, the number one reason veterinarians leave or consider leaving their jobs was that they felt unappreciated, with only 22% feeling valued compared to over 70% feeling unappreciated.
Even training opportunities are lacking, which leads to many employees who leave unsatisfied with what they have learned. With so much pressure at work, it’s scary how some veterinarians contemplate suicide or teach themselves chemical euthanasia without proper training instead of reaching out for help like they’re supposed to (and required to) do it.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions are a great way to reduce the cost of veterinary practices while promoting quality and reducing workload. Some doctors have developed systems and platforms such as Galaxy Vets to propel the idea forward and change the veterinary field forever. Because of them, veterinarians can monitor their costs and create an efficient workplace for veterinary technicians where both can work together to provide excellent service while saving money.
Advocate for Self-Care
Self-care is a vital part of any job because it helps prevent stress-fighting fatigue, feeling undervalued, frustration, anger, thus preventing burnout from happening in the first place, which means happier clients with healthier pets. As some mental health experts advocate, veterinarians and veterinary technicians must take the necessary steps to improve their mental wellness. That’s why there’s a campaign seeking the revision of the veterinary oaths to add a section that requires veterinarians and technicians to swear to self-care. You sign the petition now here if you want to be a part of the initiative.
Retain Quality, Contented Employees
Finally, to retain quality employees in the veterinary field is to put them first and make them feel like they are part of something greater than themselves. It’s also possible to promote the values of fairness, honesty, integrity, respect for people, and things to prevent employees from looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. Doing this will empower employees, resulting in happy clients with healthier pets (and happier veterinarians).
Overall, the solution to the veterinary field’s problems is by promoting self-care for veterinarians and veterinary technicians so they won’t feel exhausted and unappreciated. It’s also essential to eliminate redundancies, consolidate veterinary field mergers and acquisitions, and promote employee empowerment while promoting the values of fairness, honesty, integrity, respect for people, and things to prevent employees from leaving their jobs.