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How Much Does Burnout Cost The Veterinary Industry? (USA)

According to research conducted by the Cornell Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship, burnout costs the veterinary industry $2 billion annually – this is nearly 4% of the industry’s value as a whole!

Clinton Neill, Ph.D., lead researcher and an assistant professor of veterinary economics and management at Cornell, had this to say:

“Putting a price tag on how this very human issue affects veterinarians and technicians makes it tangible.

“There are multiple factors that contribute to a person’s burnout levels… for veterinarians, debt especially is an additional stressor for mental health.”

Proposing changes to organizations to mitigate this issue, the study claims that “Future work should focus on organizational interventions to the burnout problem. These solutions should be tailored to each individual practice, but the general ideas of quality leadership, improving workflow, feedback mechanisms, and increased utilization of current, non-veterinarian staff are all factors that can be implemented in the short term. 

These short-term changes could have long-term impacts to reduce turnover and improve burnout for the entire profession. In essence, it is up to everyone (owners, veterinarians, technicians, and other staff) to decrease the barriers for a more satisfactory work experience and address this well-being crisis.”

Click here to read the full study.

Why Should You Care?

This study shows something that many veterinarians are acutely aware of: burnout is affecting us as a collective massively. Finding the monetary value of this effect means that there is both a profit and well-being incentive to improve the working conditions that veterinarians experience. Hopefully, this will add to leaders’ motivation to eliminate the circumstances leading to burnout.  

 

‘Empowering Vet Teams’ essential to Improve Veterinary Staff Retention, says BVA President (UK)

Addressing members of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dr. Malcolm Morley – the new president of the organization – said that  “Veterinary medicine is often characterized by animals but in reality, it is a profession intrinsically centered on people, whether they are our colleagues, our clients, the animal-owning public or farming communities. I’m incredibly proud to be part of such a dedicated group of professionals.

“Undoubtedly, it has been a tough few years. We can point to Brexit, the pandemic, and the rapid rise in pet ownership as external factors putting our profession under huge pressure and leaving staff exhausted. However, we must acknowledge that not all the challenges are new and there are longer-term systemic issues with retention, recruitment, and return to work. Workforce shortages are a key issue.

“We stand at a crossroads and the road that has brought the profession to where we are now will not be the same one that leads us forward. We can either put our heads down, tighten our belts, and hope for the best or we can acknowledge the issues, focus on solutions, and look forward to ensuring veterinary medicine is a great place to work.”

“By inspiring, mentoring, and empowering vet teams, we see a strong link to improved animal welfare as well as the retention and satisfaction of people. Championing and supporting the next generation of leaders is key to my theme of investing in people.”

Click here to read the full article

Why Should You Care?

Staff retention is a prevalent issue in the overall veterinary landscape. Leaders have an asymmetrically high impact on this issue. Good leaders help retain people, bad ones drive them off. Thank goodness to have someone in a position of high office recognizing the importance of the work of leaders. Hopefully, another voice yelling this message will help to drive it home! 

 

Why Is Accessible Pain Relief a Concern for Vets? (Australia)

Veterinarians in the outback have voiced their concerns over a decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to change the classification of two pain relief products and make them much more accessible to livestock producers. 

Speaking about his concerns on the decision, flying outback vet Campbell Costello said that “I am worried and I think [the veterinary industry is] just going to implode … there’s going to be no-one left … Someone’s dog is going to get sick in somewhere like Longreach and you’re going to have to travel to Rockhampton or Brisbane or Townsville to see a vet.”

Susan Swaney, president of the Sheep, Camelid, and Goat Vets group within the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), had this to say:

“This is just chipping away and reducing how much opportunity we have to engage with farmers”

Speaking on how the move would mean fewer vets in the area, she said that “In the long term, if you want a veterinary industry to be there and to be knowledgeable, they have to be used… it’s really a case of use it or lose it.”

Dr. Campbell Costello thinks that “the public and the government has really under-appreciated veterinary science for a long time… You’re telling me a cowboy can just walk in off a station and buy local anesthetic and anti-inflammatory … and de-horn and do surgery?

“It’s really concerning and it sends a strong message that we just do not care [about the veterinary industry]. We just want to feel valued. I think we really need to start exploring some options to making veterinary science not a death trap, but an enjoyable profession that people want to stay in,” he said.

However, a TGA spokesperson said that the benefits of this decision outweigh the risks: “The decision maker was not satisfied that moving these substances out of Schedule 4 would create an unacceptable risk of their unsafe or improper use.”

Click here to find out more.

Why Should You Care?

This issue is a complicated one, but the overall concern regarding minimizing the need for veterinary input in animal care is one we should all be paying attention to. There is a trend at play globally and one that threatens the role of the vet as the primary voice in the administration of care to animals. Whether we’re talking about pets or production animals, our voice should be loud, proud, and clear. The trend for the last decade has been anything but.

 

Battling The Stigma: Challenging The Mirror’s Dangerous Dogs Campaign (UK)

Following an investigation by The Mirror which found that there had been a 26% rise in dangerous dog attacks since early 2020, the newspaper has launched a campaign to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Dot Robinson, the mother of the victim of a tragic dog attack, had to attend the funeral of her own daughter due to the heartbreaking death that resulted from the attack. The campaign calls for the following changes to the act: 

  1. Widen the list of banned breeds to make it illegal to own, breed or sell other dangerous types.
  2. Bring in a new law requiring owners to register certain breeds that could be dangerous. Similar laws exist in France and Austria.
  3. Anyone wanting to own a potentially dangerous breed should attend a training course and the dog’s behaviour should be assessed.

However, in an open letter to the Daily Mirror, veterinarians from The Dog Control Coalition (Battersea, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, RSPCA, and Scottish SPCA) have voiced disapproval regarding the methods that this campaign has called for. In the letter, they state that “urgent action is necessary to effectively protect public safety”. However, they also made sure to note that “Adding additional dogs to the current list of prohibited types or measures which seek to manage certain types of dog because they are believed to be more dangerous than others will not effectively protect the public“.

As such, the coalition has proposed some changes, stating that they want to see:

  • Interventions that focus on safe behaviour around dogs;
  • Effective legislation and enforcement with measures that allow early intervention, are preventative, evidence-based and proportionate;
  • A better understanding of why a dog bites to help understand better how bites can be avoided. 

Why Should You Care?

As veterinary professionals, we must voice our concerns surrounding the messaging that large platforms spread surrounding dangerous animals, both for the sake of animals and the sake of their owners/families. It’s important that vets advocate for change, but we need to be mindful of the potential stigma we could cause by going about it the wrong way. The phrases “evidence based” and “proportionate” seem very apt. 

Click here to read the full article detailing the letter.

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