2020 was a year in which veterinary practice owners had to quickly adapt. This included changing the physical face of your practices to make them Covid secure, reducing the number of patients you could see, and shifting to telemedicine where possible.
Arguably more striking is the mental effect the pandemic has had on your staff. We know that pet owners are spending more time than ever with their animals, which has resulted in increased demand for veterinary services. Yet, restrictions mean that they cannot always be seen, and there aren’t enough appointments or staff to meet demand
Anxiety, fatigue, stress – experienced by both veterinary staff and pet owners – has left the veterinary profession strained. In this article, we consider the ‘hangover effect’ this rapidly changing period has had on the veterinary profession and the trends that will come to shape your veterinary practice in 2021.
Read on to discover the top 4 veterinary trends in 2021.
From Employee Experience to Life Experience
Those in leadership positions have had to support employees personally as well as professionally. Your team or their families may have been personally affected by the virus. Although we have all been thrown into this situation, everyone has experienced it differently. Some have been impacted by the general situation, experiencing anxiety, while others have pushed through.
However, if you do not take the time to check in with your team on a personal level, they risk burning out in 2021 due to the increased strain.
As 2021 ensues, there will be an increased focus on work-life integration (as opposed to work-life balance). This means that practice owners must consider their employees’ personal circumstances more than they have done before.
Increasingly, veterinary staff are seeking to make their jobs part of their lifestyle, which means the personal and professional aspects of their lives are entwined. You could set up a series of one-to-ones, asking each staff member the working patterns that fit best in their lifestyle, the impact their job has on their personal life, and if there is anything you can do as a manager to help them feel less stressed.
Telemedicine is Here to Stay
The pandemic has seen a considerable shift as veterinary professionals make use of telemedicine where possible. And, research suggests this trend is here to stay.
What is more, the early signs tell us that telemedicine is a long-term trend and that if veterinary practices wish to stay ahead of the curve, they should be sure to invest in it. According to a report published by Allied Market Research, the global veterinary software market was estimated at $1.31 billion in 2019 and is expected to hit $2.08 billion by 2027.
A rise in companion animal ownership, increase in need for streamlining daily tasks in veterinary hospitals and surge in expenditure on animal health fuel the growth of the global veterinary software market.
Another factor causing a boom in the use of telemedicine is the rise in millennial pet ownership. In the US, 18-35-year-olds are the largest segment of the pet-owning population. Generally, the millennial generation are technology natives and will shop around to receive instantaneous information and advice. Investing in telemedicine, or at least increasing your communications with clients – many of whom will be from the millennial generation – will help you to encourage a loyal client base.
Improving the Initial Experience of New Veterinarians
Do you have a new veterinary graduate on your team?
New veterinarians have entered the profession at such a difficult time. As a result, the onboarding process and all initial experiences of your new veterinarian are incredibly important. Not only are they expecting technical support – in the form of shadowing, mentorship, and regular one-to-ones – but mental support.
We already know that it is the initial experiences that are the most vital when forming a new grad’s impression of the profession. A bad initial experience – such as an operation gone wrong, a lack of support, feeling alone – can result in them leaving the profession altogether.
2021, therefore, sees an increased focus on supporting new team members – particularly new veterinarians. Your onboarding process should be comprehensive, you should provide a mentor/support system, and ensure they know who they can speak to if they are feeling stressed.
Emphasis on Obtaining Professional Skills
In 2021 there will be an increased emphasis on obtaining professional skills, in order to build resilience and to aid personal development. Specifically, this Oxford whitepaper predicts that complex problem solving, creative thinking skills, and critical thinking will be the three top skills your employees will want to learn.
With the help of professional skills such as these, your team can start building their resilience, to emerge out of the pandemic stronger than before.
Overall, the four trends that will shape your veterinary practice in 2021 will see you taking a more holistic approach to leadership. Not only do your employees need to be supported professionally, but personally. After a period of unpredictable change and adaptation, your team will need to feel supported and secure.
If you found this article useful, and are interested in becoming the best leader you can be in order to support your team in 2021, check out our Leaders program. This comprehensive course consists of 14 modules, plus toolkits and access to an international community of leaders.