Six In Ten Vets Experience Abuse During Pandemic
A British Veterinary Association (BVA) survey has found that 57% of vets have experienced abuse from clients.
The 2020 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey found that 82% of vets were aware of such abuse, up from 75% in 2019. This may be due in part to the rapid changes made by practices to mitigate the effects of covid-19.
In a statement from BVA President James Russel, he said:
‘It’s heartening to see that many vets responding to our survey found that the majority of their clients were happy to comply with safety measures, and really appreciated everything that their practice was doing to care for their animals against such a tough and unprecedented backdrop.’
‘But the actions of a small, but aggressive, minority serve as a stark reminder of the added challenges that the workforce has been contending with day to day at what is already an incredibly stressful and difficult time.’
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Veterinary Pet Boom Continues
It looks like the rise in veterinary demand in the US will not be slowing down any time soon. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), US consumer spending on pet food, supplies, and veterinary care exceeded $100 billion last year- remaining strong in 2021.
‘We have reached a critical milestone, generating $103.6 billion in sales’ said Steve King, APPA President, and CEO.
‘We are bullish for the coming year, projecting growth of 5.8%, well above the historical average of 3 to 4%.’
Other trends include a move towards digitization in the profession, an increase in channels for medications and products outside veterinary care, and a rise in pet education outside of veterinary sources.
‘For veterinarians dragged reluctantly to telemedicine or offering products online, the time has come for people to put old habits out of the window. They need to adapt’ said Doug Brooks, vice president of business development at Compassion-First Pet Hospitals.
For those reluctant to change, Brooks says:
‘Crumbs are still bread’ adding, ‘A little bit of something is a whole lot better than a whole lot of nothing.’
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Drug-Resistant Bacteria May Be More Common In Vets
A study in the Netherlands has found that veterinary workers may carry drug-resistant bacteria at twice the rate of the public.
The study, published in the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, posited that 10% of veterinary workers were colonized with an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing (ESBL) strain of Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae.
It also found that veterinary workers who traveled to Africa, Asia, or Latin America within the last six months were four times more likely to carry bacteria with ESBL production genes. Those tested who experienced bowel problems within the last four weeks were twice as likely to be colonized with bacteria expressing ESBL genes also.
Researchers concluded that:
‘It seems highly likely that occupational contact with animals in the animal healthcare setting may result in shedding and transmission of multi-drug resistant pathogens.’
This does not fare well for veterinary professionals- particularly after the year we’ve had.
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Overseas Veterinary Workers Encouraged To Take Part In ‘Introduction To The UK Training’
Overseas vets and veterinary nurses are being encouraged to take part in a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) course ‘An introduction to the UK veterinary profession’.
The course aims to support foreign veterinary professionals who have been practicing in the UK for less than two years. The course will guide prospective/practicing veterinary professionals on how to find a great career in the UK, how to register with the RCVS, what support they can access in the UK, and more.
Whilst the course, for the most part, is free, the second section (which is non-compulsory) costs £150+VAT.
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New Zealand Veterinary Bodies Commit To Communicate Openly About Animal Research And Teaching In The Country
Twenty-one universities, technological institutes, non-profits, government organizations, umbrella bodies, Crown Researcher Institutes, funding organizations, and learned societies have committed to communicating openly about animal use.
New Zealand will be the first country outside the EU to have an openness agreement.
Dr. Jodi Salinsky, an Animal Welfare Officer and Veterinarian at the University of Auckland commented that:
‘This will help organizations that conduct, fund, or support animal research communicate about the crucial work that is being done on the public’s behalf, by dedicated researchers, technicians, and animal care staff.’
The use of animals in research remains vital to scientific, medical, and veterinary progress. This agreement would better educate the wider community on this necessity.
‘We look forward to the day when animals are no longer needed and honor the animals for the advances made that allow treatments, vaccinations, and cures for diseases to be found.’
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How To Manage Staff During The ‘Pingdemic’
Although it looks like the worst is over in terms of the covid-19 pandemic, a new crisis is emerging.
The ‘pingdemic’ (a term coined in the UK which denotes the rise of UK workers being ‘pinged’ by the NHS covid-19 application) has meant that more and more veterinary practices are having to navigate multiple staff members being off to isolate.
Given the strain this puts on practices and their employees, what can managers or practice owners do to lessen the impact?
Look Out For The Team’s Mental Wellbeing
Whilst we’re sure some staff members will be delighted to get a few days off work, others (particularly those who have to remain in practice), will likely be feeling the brunt of employee shortages.
Scheduling regular check-ins and reducing your client capacity will likely be necessary to prevent staff from being exhausted and burned out.
Amend Your Scheduling
If you think staff isolation is a real risk, consider discussing emergency scheduling plans ahead of time. Which services will you be able to reschedule? What is the lowest capacity you can work at without putting anyone at risk? Discuss this with your whole team.
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