Just one thing: Getting to the right staffing ratio

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Just one thing: Practical tips for veterinary practices

As veterinary hospitals across the nation seek ways to streamline operations for efficiency, one key area worth examining is the level of staffing. A straightforward way to assess this is by measuring the ratio of technicians and veterinary assistants employed at a hospital to the number of veterinarians. Too high a ratio will weigh on profitability, yet too low a ratio will impede the support provided to veterinarians.

Here’s a quick way to start

The first step to getting the right ratio is determining the current staff ratio for your practice. This can be tackled in 15 minutes or less by taking the following steps:

  1. Count the average number of hours per week worked by technicians and veterinary assistants in your practice.
  2. Count the average number of hours per week worked by veterinarians in the practice.
  3. Divide the results from #1 by the results from #2 to find your current ratio.
  4. Compare your results against industry benchmarks, and begin considering whether a change in your staffing ratio might improve your operation.

As an example, consider a practice that has two technicians, one working 40 hours per week, and the other working 20 hours per week; one veterinary assistant working 40 hours per week; and one veterinarian, working 40 hours per week. By dividing 100 hours (the total technician and assistant hours) by 40 hours (the total veterinarian hours), we find the hospital’s ratio to be 2.5.

Once you have your hospital’s ratio in hand, you can compare it against industry benchmarks and begin considering whether a change in staffing levels might improve your operation.

Start with this benchmark: The AVMA’s 2023 Report on the Economic State of the Veterinary Profession found that the most efficient hospitals had a ratio of 2.7 full-time-equivalent technicians and veterinary assistants per full-time-equivalent veterinarian. 

Every hospital is unique, and there is no universally superior ratio. But by finding and comparing your hospital’s staffing ratio, you position yourself to look for areas for possible improvement and develop strategies for change. By getting the staffing ratio right, your hospital can reduce the risk of burnout among your team, optimize their capacity to care for patients, and boost overall efficiency.


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