Understanding and addressing veterinary workforce challenges

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Veterinary demand, practice productivity, staff utilization, and wellbeing

Veterinary practices are busier than ever. While we’re seeing positive signs of economic recovery from COVID-19, many in the veterinary profession are still dealing with the pandemic’s effects on our practices and teams, patients, and clients. Stress continues to run high, and our teams are feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

To determine where we go from here, it’s crucial to let the data inform us. There are many questions circulating about the economics of veterinary practices, stress on the veterinary workforce, and veterinary teams’ wellbeing and burnout. To answer these questions, AVMA’s chief veterinary officer and chief economist take a data-informed view in a new JAVMA commentary, “Are We in a Veterinary Workforce Crisis?” They evaluate data reflecting the national veterinary experience to help identify why our practices are so busy, how it’s impacting veterinary wellbeing and what solutions are most likely to address the root causes of our challenges.

Various elements at play

Among the questions they explore:

  • Was there a ‘pandemic pet’ boom?
  • How has COVID-19 affected practice productivity?
  • What is at the heart of the increased activity we’re experiencing in our clinics?
  • Are some recommendations being proposed the answer, or do they come with their own challenges?
  • What actions can practices take right now to help alleviate the stress and strain?

Solution-oriented strategies

The commentary offers strategies practices can implement now to better support veterinary teams, fully utilize employees’ education and skills, and help ensure the practice's continued ability to deliver quality services for patients and clients. It also provides links to AVMA resources that support those strategies.

The commentary by AVMA Chief Economist Matt Salois, M.A., Ph.D., and Chief Veterinary Officer Gail Golab, Ph.D., D.V.M., is available online now and will appear in the September 15 issue of Journal of the AVMA (JAVMA).

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