Diving into the Talent Pool of Veterinary Professionals

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How to help veterinary practices overcome their talent-hiring challenges.

It has been a very challenging market over the past few years for hiring veterinarians, technicians, and support staff. This challenging hiring market will not be resolved any time soon, barring some economic catastrophe that would significantly reduce demand for veterinary services. So, how can industry partners help veterinary practices to overcome this situation? Let’s look at a few opportunities, some of which are major needs in the industry.

Educate about the importance of a culture of success

First, there are no magic wands to deliver a quick fix. When talking to many practice owners, they often use their veterinarian mindset to diagnose and fix the problem and then wish to move on to the next need. There is no quick fix for this issue. So, the first need and opportunity is to:


  • Provide education and support in developing a culture of success that attracts and retains top talent. This includes leadership development throughout the organization.

Most employees want to be a part of a thriving team with a positive, growth mindset. They want opportunities to grow, assurances that they can make a difference for their profession, co-workers, and the clients they serve. One of the best resources in recruiting great employees is the recommendation or efforts of existing employees, who are excited about their work and voice their love for the team of which they are a part.

There is often a failure amongst practice leaders regarding the importance of a positive culture to the success of their practice. They underestimate the impact of culture on their ability to attract and retain talent, on the productivity and motivation of their team, and on the profitability of the practice.

There is a great need and opportunity to help educate practice owners about the importance of culture in all aspects of their practice, and then to deliver programs that will help them develop and sustain that positive culture.

Train and provide tools to enhance the recruitment and hiring process

The recruitment and hiring process is cumbersome for most veterinary practice owners and their teams. Hiring and other human resource specialties are not taught in veterinary schools, and few practices have professional HR specialists on staff. Therefore, there is a great need and opportunity to:

  • Provide training in the area of recruitment and hiring along with the tools that will make their efforts more efficient, and increase the reach, effectiveness, and professionalism of the entire process.

Practices would benefit from learning how to write better ads, what language to use, what is important to the audiences they are trying to attract, and how to promote the most important attributes of their opportunity in a way that is attractive to those they are seeking to recruit. They would also benefit from learning about applicant tracking systems, using technology to deploy opportunities to many online job boards, using automatic screeners in applicant tracking systems, and the seamless integration of successful hire information to onboarding platforms that streamline and make secure the management of employee information including all employee-related documentation and payroll. One example of a system that does all of this is efficienthire.com.

Educate all practice owners and staff about the importance of profitability

Profitability is crucial to the health of every veterinary practice. Without it, the practice won’t have the resources to hire and pay top talent, purchase equipment, update facilities and sustain a positive culture in which to live and work. Work-life balance is really an issue rooted in profitability and productivity, or lack of it, and is frequently misunderstood or ignored completely. Therefore, there is a big need and opportunity to:

  • Provide education and tools regarding the importance of profitability and how to achieve it.

Achieving profitability is not difficult once leaders understand what is most important in accomplishing it. Once practice teams understand the importance of profitability to the quality of life of all of them, they can be taught what is important to achieve those desired results and, as a team, profitability becomes their standard.

Optimize workflow to utilize talent most effectively

In a challenging hiring market, and one that won’t be resolved quickly, it is of utmost importance to utilize the most costly labor as effectively as possible to optimize productivity and profitability. High-priced veterinary labor should not be spending a lot of time performing administrative functions. They should be seeing patients, making decisions about diagnostics and therapeutics, performing surgery, and other activities not able to be delegated to technicians or support staff. And their flow of this work should be designed to be very efficient. Therefore, there is a need and opportunity to:

  • Optimize workflow, which is often dictated or influenced by practice management software. In other words, design and deliver software that results in optimized workflows especially in a challenging hiring and staffing environment.

Most management software is designed by software engineers rather than by specialists who operate veterinary practices. There is an opportunity and need to ensure that management systems promote workflows that are both effective and efficient, and which can optimize the utilization of high-priced veterinary labor.

In addition, these efforts should focus on optimizing the utilization of veterinary labor to optimize care, the customer experience, and ensure maximization of revenue generation by the most costly employees, veterinarians.

In summary, there is a huge need and opportunity to help veterinary practices learn and improve their ability to attract and retain talent, and to utilize that talent most effectively toward accomplishing practice objectives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA 

Dr. Ed Blach works as a business and market specialist in veterinary medicine. He has a unique background that combines veterinary medicine, market research, business development, and management. Dr. Blach is also an inventor whose professional passion is innovation and improvement. He is co-founder of two current startups: Ask.Vet and ismypracticehealthy.com.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/jamesteohart