As the veterinary workforce crisis continues, the AVMA recently recommended that practices adopt technology that “support workflow and practice efficiency” to reduce staff burnout and turnover.
Before the pandemic, burnout and compassion fatigue were already common occupational conditions in veterinary medicine. According to a 2017 report by the AVMA, 49% of 37,036 veterinarians surveyed in Canada and the U.S. felt “moderate-to-substantial level of burnout.” Similarly, a 2019 survey of 1,240 vet techs found 51% were experiencing moderate-to-substantial burnout in their work.
After the pandemic hit and people adopted pets in record numbers, “there has been an increase in burnout in the veterinary field,” according to a 2020 survey by Veterinary Integration Solutions. The survey also found that younger veterinary professionals showed “more signs of compassion fatigue than their older colleagues.”
How Burnout Has Impacted Veterinary Staff Turnover
With burnout being a contributing factor to veterinary job satisfaction, the AAHA recently found that the average staff turnover at practices is 23% per year, which impacts patient care and the future of veterinary medicine. CVMA president Dr. Enid Stiles said in January 2021, “We do have a very significant shortage of veterinarians and animal health technicians,” and a 2020 survey published by the AVMA found only one third of veterinarians would recommend the profession to others.
“If we don’t address the primary sources of burnout,” said a recent co-authored report published by the AVMA, “we’ll never fix the problem itself—not matter how many new veterinarians or veterinary technicians we add to the workforce. Instead, we need to implement innovative and lasting approaches that harness technology, better utilize staff members, and engage our teams.”
As cited by the report, when efficiency is enhanced through improved work processes, burnout is reduced, and job satisfaction improves.
To this end, the AVMA recommends that practices adopt technology “to automate and streamline management and administrative processes.” The AVMA also recommends telehealth. “They support workflow and practice efficiency and provide opportunities for better client communication and care continuity.”
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