When we look back on 2020, one word many of us will use to encapsulate all of the feelings and emotions a year of pandemic brought will probably be “stressful.” This is especially true for those working in the veterinary industry. Not only did they have the same fears and uneasiness as everyone else, but as essential workers, they had to learn to operate in new and unfamiliar circumstances. By shutting doors and going curbside, clinics kept their staff, clients, and pets safe, but with that came distinct challenges as they learned to weave a new normal.

With curbside operations in full swing, practices had to take extra time to check patients in and out, run payments back and forth from front desks to parking lots, and find new methods of communication to limit face-to-face interaction and promote social distancing. All of this on top of their regular duties such as controlling inbound calls, keeping on top appointment reminders, and in some cases, prescription refill requests, left veterinary staff workers burnt out.

We at VitusVet, along with Bash Hallow, wanted to get a better understanding of the effects this stress took on practice managers, practice owners, CSRs, DVMs, and vet techs. In spring of 2021, we surveyed 154 veterinary professionals who worked in practices ranging from 1 to 7+ doctors to see not only what the stresses of COVID-19 meant for them during the pandemic, but before and after, as well.

Here’s a quick look at the results:

Among the survey takers:

40%

Practice
Managers

29%

Practice
Owners

11%

DVMs

10%

CSRs

6%

Vet
Technicians

Practice Size:

26%

1 doctor

32%

2-3 doctors

35%

4-6 doctors

7%

7+ doctors

Stress Levels:

Before the Pandemic

47%

had “some” to “a lot” of stress

Start of the Pandemic

80%

had “some” to “a lot” of stress

One Year
Later

>1%

had of no work-related stress

Stress by role:

practice managers

87%

currently experience “some” or “a lot” of stress

practice owners

71%

reported having “some” or “a lot” of stress

Practice Size:

The larger the practice, the more likely staff are to cite the following as a cause of stress:

Lack of time

Excessive caseload

Curbside efficiency loss

Rude clients

Staff shortages
(or calling out of work)

Causes of stress:

Work/life
balance

50%

disagree” or “strongly disagree” that they have a healthy work/life balance

Staying
late

72%

“agree” Or “strongly agree” that they often had to stay later than scheduled

Enough
time

67%

“disagree” that they have enough time to get their work done

Increased
workload

90%

had increased workload during this last year

Leaving the Industry:

25%

said they will either leave the profession or leave their job at their current practice

25%

of practice owners are unsure, or plan to assume a different role

How practices have reduced stress:

48.1%
Increased wages

35.8%
Added new technology

29.6%
Hired more staff

12.3%
Setup wellness training

8%
Added mental health benefits

36.4%
Did nothing to reduce stress

As the rollout of vaccine availability has become widely available in the U.S., we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many practices have begun their doors and welcome clients back inside. Though we’re unsure what the future holds for the veterinary industry, one thing will always be certain –– these essential workers are heroes to our pets.

Want to get an even deeper dive into our survey?

Check out the eBook!