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The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International

Revenue ‘Stronger than Before’ for US Vet Practices

According to the AVMA, the veterinary practice sector is showing positive economic signs.

“Revenue and invoices both dipped sharply in March, reached their lowest points late that same month, and have been moving steadily upward since early April. There are variations regionally and state by state, but data indicate that the national veterinary sector has rebounded as well as we could have hoped at the start of the pandemic.”

For the last two months, revenue has averaged around 14% higher than 2019. The recovery for invoices has been softer, but these also continue to rebound. Currently, average practice revenue is up 15-25% year over year, depending on location.

There are several potential factors behind the economic rebound, including: veterinary care was deemed an essential service, so never hit a sustained rock bottom like other non-essential services; some consumers have had increased disposable income, from stimulus payments and/or higher unemployment payments (which have ended); owners spending more time at home with pets has meant more demand for veterinary care.

Georgia Couple Starts Nonprofit in the Name of Diversity

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the estimated 104,000 veterinarians in America, there are so few Black veterinarians that, statistically, their percentage registers as 0.0%. Citing similar data, The Atlantic magazine in 2013 reported that being a veterinarian was “the whitest job in America.” 

Ian Scholer, DVM, and Megan Scholer, want to change that. Ian is a veterinarian in Evans, Georgia, and Megan resigned from her teaching career to devote more time to their four children. Now, they’re both devoting more time to Vets of All Colors, a nonprofit they kicked off officially in October. The goal is to build more interest among all school-age children to pursue careers in veterinary science, and to give minority students in particular the financial help to complete the schooling necessary to treat and heal animals.

US Vet Asks: Why Are Leadership Positions Dominated by Men?

Despite a large proportion of veterinarians and veterinary technicians being female, leadership positions are dominated by males. To be sure, according to the most recent American Veterinary Medical Association census data, almost 62% of veterinarians identify as female, yet there is a clear lack of equal representation in leadership positions across the veterinary industry.

Kathryn Kraft, DVM hypothesises that “women are less likely to apply for executive-level positions. It has been proven that women feel the need to be exceedingly qualified for a position before applying, whereas men are more likely to apply for an opening they want even if they fall far short of the necessary qualifications.”

She continues, “To begin increasing female representation in the upper echelons of the industry, women must approach the hiring process for these positions differently than we have in the past. We have to see the process as an opportunity to frame our own expertise in such a way as to add value to the specific skills and experiences required in the job description. We also have to be willing to be vulnerable—we must be willing to fail.”

UK Vet Calls for More Mental Health Research

Steph Walsh – first opinion head vet at Rutland House Veterinary Hospital in St Helens, has issued the call to action for more research into mental health in the veterinary profession.

Dr Walsh said: “I think doing the research project identified for me the need for more research into why the veterinary profession has higher rates of suicide ideation than the rest of the population.

“There are multiple factors why the veterinary profession is at an increased risk. It has been suggested people who go into the veterinary profession have personality traits that are predisposed to an increased risk of mental health and suicide ideation.”

She continued: “Some of it is related to work-related stress and increasing evidence of unrealistic client expectations; and because we accept euthanasia of animals, that may also give us a different view of death and potentially suicide.”

UK Vet Nurse Struck Off for Dishonesty Over Drugs

London-based veterinary nurse Paul Chaney has been removed from the Register after he was found guilty of stealing, possessing and unlawfully administering various veterinary drugs, and that he dishonestly made and deleted clinical records about his own dog.

Mr Chaney was charged with stealing Trazadone and Metacam from the Hampstead practice he worked at, and of unlawfully possessing Trazadone and Metacam. He was also charged with unlawfully administering Butorphanol to a dog and failing to record the administration of the drug in the dog’s records. He was also charged with making and deleting false entries into the clinical records of his own dog to the effect that it had been seen by a vet at the practice and that Metacam had been prescribed. The final charge was that his conduct over the false records was dishonest and misleading.

Judith Way, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee had no doubt that administering a sedative to an animal that required prescription by a veterinary surgeon and then failing to record it in the clinical record with the resultant risk to the animal’s welfare due to lack of knowledge of the administration fell far below the expected standard.

“The Committee also considered that possession of prescription only medicines by a registered veterinary nurse, without the sanction of law, having stolen the same from a practice also fell far below the expected standard.”

Worrying Trend Sees Owners Give Pets Human Wellness Plants and Oils

The UK is seeing increased levels of ‘DIY treatment’ towards pets during the lockdown period – a worrying trend. 

Wellbeing trends have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, with sales of house plants reportedly shooting up 500% during the lockdown. Some CBD oil products have also seen a 500% increase as a result of COVID-19, with research suggesting people are purchasing more wellbeing products to ease the stress of our current ‘new normal’.  However, many pet owners may not realise the damaging impact such trends could have on their animal companions.

Dr Scott Miller, Resident vet at Natusan cat litter firm, said: “With people spending more time than ever at home due to the pandemic, 2020 has seen a huge rise in people becoming pet parents.

“And as we increasingly turn towards our homes to work, relax and socialise – it’s incredibly important that those with pets understand the dangers which certain human wellness products can have on them.”

“During this turbulent time, everyone needs to look after their mental wellbeing – but it’s also crucial that we look after our pets and ensure the environment which they live in is safe and doesn’t put them in harm’s way.”

First Veterinary School in Wales to Open

Aberystwyth University School of Veterinary Science will become Wales’ first veterinary college when it opens next September.

The program is a joint effort of Aberystwyth University and the Royal Veterinary College in England. Students will spend the first two years of the five-year degree at Aberystwyth, located on the western coast of Wales. They will move to the RVC’s Hawkshead campus, north of London, for the final three years.

Dr. Darrell Abernethy, head of the school, said: “I’m very passionate that our students get exposure to other disciplines and other ways of thinking,” Abernethy said. “Because our vet school is right in the middle of this multidisciplinary campus in Aberystwyth, it gives us a wonderful opportunity to make the most of that.”

He continued: “One Health really implies that you need to work together,” Abernethy said. “I’d like to bring that right down to undergraduate education, so I’m very keen that our students get exposed to not only a diversity of students, but also to a diversity of professions.”

Rome’s Veterinary Ambulance Proves Essential as Covid Levels Rise

Animal association Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV) has relaunched its animal ambulance service in the wake of the pandemic, as animals are directly and indirectly affected by the virus.

The service offers transport assistance to and from veterinary clinics.  Not only for animals of people and families who are in isolation, but also for the transfer of dogs or cats and other small pets, to the homes of friends or relatives, in case owners are in hospital or otherwise unable to take care of them.

The service is proving essential, especially for vulnerable individuals such as Mrs Teresa, who tragically lost her husband to Covid 19 and was left with her two dogs whilst self-isolating and unable to walk them.

LAV immediately intervened with its ambulance, to transfer the two dogs – in full compliance with the hygienic and sanitary procedures required by law – to new accommodation, waiting for Mrs. Teresa to finish her quarantine period and to re-embrace them.

Australian Research will Help Koalas Survive Future Bushfires

A University of Adelaide-led research project will study the clinical data of koalas injured in last summer’s devastating bushfires to give them the best possible chance of survival and recovery in future bushfires.

Project leader Dr Natasha Speight said: “We will work closely with the key agencies that were involved in koala rescue and treatment from these regions including staff from Zoos SA, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Adelaide Koala Rescue, and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, as their hard work and dedication to koala welfare makes this study possible.”

“The findings will help identify risk factors and treatment outcomes for koalas related to burns, smoke inhalation, dehydration, and disease. This new information will be essential for caring for koalas impacted by future bushfires.”

How a ‘Mindfulness Break’ Could Lessen Pandemic Fatigue

Right now, you may be experiencing heightened levels of stress because of the threats Covid-19 presents. It’s constantly in the news, it’s all we talk about, and it can feel like it constantly surrounds us! Follow these steps to give yourself a well deserved mindfulness break when you need it:

  1. Create guardrails: If you continue to respond to emails at 10pm, you are conditioning people to expect you to respond at 10pm. Your mind and body need to be off duty for a time each day to avoid feeling burned out and disengaged.
  2. Make sleep a priority: If you go to sleep tired and wake up tired, you need more sleep. Sleep affects cognition, physical health and mood. And caffeine is not a substitute for sleep. Plan to turn off all technology at least an hour before going to bed and never bring technology to bed with you.
  3. Add self-care to your to-do list: Self-care is necessary and an act of self-compassion. Right now, in this very moment, ask yourself a question: ‘what do I need?’. Listen deeply to the answer that arises and put it on the top of the list and make space for it on the calendar. When you are able to be at your best, you truly do make better choices-for you and for others.

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