Support for the Veterinary Workforce

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Merck Animal Health’s latest comprehensive Veterinary Well-being Study gauged job satisfaction, and levels of burnout, among the veterinary workforce.

Almost three-quarters of veterinary professionals express personal satisfaction with their career, but there are still factors they are concerned about, including high exhaustion, work-life balance, and shortage of vets, all of which can contribute to a feeling of burnout, according to findings of Merck Animal Health’s latest comprehensive Veterinary Wellbeing Study.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and was the first comprehensive study on veterinary well-being following the global pandemic and its impact on veterinary professionals, Merck Animal Health said. This latest study expanded its scope to examine the mental health and well-being of veterinary team members – including veterinary technicians and office managers – with nearly five times more responses from these positions than the 2021 survey.


“As with veterinarians, up until the first veterinary team study in 2021, there were no data to back up the perception of mental health in the veterinary space,” Christine Royal, DVM, vice president, companion animal and equine business unit, Merck Animal Health. “We felt a responsibility, given the findings and learnings from previous studies, to extend the study to the broader team. Every team member’s well-being and mental health is important in order to be able to support our pets and animals.”

Findings

Survey results include:

  • There has been a substantial increase in clinics supporting their team’s mental health and emotional well-being, with results showing that 38% of clinics now offer an employee assistance program (EAP) as opposed to 31% in 2021 and 27% in 2019.
  • An overwhelming number of veterinarians (98%) and veterinary team members (92%) note that they are invested in their work and take pride in doing a good job. More than 80% also believe the work they do makes a positive contribution on other peoples’ lives.
  • Over three-quarters of veterinarians and veterinary team members cite having a warm, friendly, and supportive relationship with their co-workers, a critical foundation for this important dialogue to advance.
  • Based on the responses, retirement is likely the key reason for leaving, and less than 2.5% of veterinarians under the age of 55 are very likely to leave the profession within the next two years .
  • “The results of the 2023 study were very gratifying,” Dr. Royal said. “In the case of both veterinarians and the rest of the practice team, we found that a large majority had a high level of job satisfaction. People also find their work gratifying; they feel it contributes to other people’s lives. We also found that more and more individuals are taking advantage of the resources available to improve mental health and well-being.”

 

To continue to build tools to support the veterinary healthcare team and ensuring this continues to be a prideful and inspiring profession for our future, Royal said. “We need to continue to talk about the great things happening in our profession and the things that bring us joy as well as help those who may need additional support.”

 

Christine Royal headshot with short-haired pointer

Christine Royal, DVM vice president, companion animal and equine business unit, Merck Animal Health

 

 

 

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

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