The findings included in this report are based on the data collected in the latest VetsSurvey and are supplemented by any relevant data from the preceding years.

Please click on the link below to download the report:

VetsSurvey 2021 report

VetsSurvey 2020: part 2

Here is the second release of the long awaited VetsSurvey 2020 data. Where the first release was focused on the impact of the pandemic, this report covers other aspects of veterinary life (because it’s not all about Covid-19!).

Read more…

COVID-19 Global Pandemic impact on the veterinary market

VetsSurvey 2020 – Part 1

In March 2020 we embarked on a small project to track the impact of the pandemic on our Vetspanel members. We resolved to continue this for “as long as the pandemic lasts.” Proof that researchers should not speak in haste.

In December 2020 we concluded the last wave of this project. In partnership with WSAVA, we have interviewed 5000 veterinary professionals in 91 countries.

The goal of this final survey was two-fold. First, to round up 2020 and take stock of where we are as we enter 2021. Second, covering future plans to help the veterinary industry make 2021 a better year.

We thank all 5000 respondents for sharing their experiences and opinions.

Click HERE to download the full report

Why are stress levels in corporate practices so high?

The sharp rise in the number of corporate practices is no secret. While most veterinarians work in independent and privately owned practices, corporatisation continues to grow.

Data from our 2020 VetsSurvey identified that in the last five years, the number of corporate practices in the UK has more than doubled to 48%, nearly making up half of all practices.

In fact, more than half of veterinarians surveyed (56%) said they believed the number of corporate practices will rise even more in the next 10 years.

This trend is not solely rooted to the UK either, with the US seeing a significant rise from 6% in 2016 to a quarter of all practices (25%) in 2020, and Australia rising from 12% to 18% in that time.

With an increasing dominance in the industry, corporate practices have become reflective of the current struggles that are slicing through the industry at this current time, such as increased stress levels among veterinarians.

Data from a recent Vetspanel survey has found that stress levels in corporate practices are higher than those in independents.

One reason for this, may be that corporate practices naturally have more head office targets, and a drive to do more with less staff, piling more pressure on those in practices. Ultimately, decision making is detached from those who work day-to-day in corporate practices.

To worsen these issues, 48% of corporate veterinarians, more than independent (35%) and group practice (31%) veterinarians, reported feeling burned out.

Further data from our 2020 VetsSurvey found that corporate practices have a higher proportion of less experienced vets than group and independent practices. They also have a younger median age (38) than the average across the industry (43).

The appeal of corporate practices to younger vets can be attributed to the way that they are managed.

Independent practices can seem more attractive to older veterinarians as they naturally stay longer working for them and most provide the option for employees who work in them to buy into the practice.

Younger vets in corporate are working the longest hours which can lead to stress. However, corporates can provide monetary incentives which is a bonus for many of the newly qualified vets entering the industry.

One vet nurse we spoke with shared the sentiment of the appeal of increased earnings that come with corporates and that they “always pay more than independent practices,” but also added that “graduate schemes” are very popular for newly qualified vets.

The nurse added that many corporates are run with little staff, so the newly qualified vets are given almost too much responsibility very quickly.

“A lot of the corporates will put in a new grad, in a branch with their version of a qualified nurse [even if they only] just qualified, and their head nurse, a receptionist,” the vet nurse added.

So, how can corporates, which have higher numbers of less experienced vets; combat rising stress levels and an increasing need for more vets to be recruited before it’s too late?

More pastoral wellbeing support, something that should be prioritised across all practices, is a must for veterinarians. Compassion fatigue is at an all time high within the industry, and paired with the long-term challenges left by covid, employed vets should be prioritised.

As the number of veterinary professionals reporting increased stress levels continues to rise, it is hard to pinpoint one way to solve the crisis, but it is now more important than ever that corporate, as well as independent and privately owned practices start to address this epidemic, before it is too late.

Help from home – are remote consultations here to stay?

The coronavirus pandemic has not only attributed to a long-lasting backlog for veterinarians but has forced the industry to evolve its methods to meet client demand as capacity in practices needed to be reduced.

Virtually all veterinary practices across the globe have had to implement additional measures or policies due to the coronavirus outbreak which meant less clients were permitted on site and birthed this increasing need for remote consultations and telemedicine appointments.

Data from our 2020 VetsSurvey found that 33% of vets asked pet owners to call beforehand to assess the need to visit the practice, while 45% admitted they asked clients to wait outside while a member of staff brought the client’s pet into the practice.

These figures highlight how the pandemic has not only slowed the consultation process for vets but also tried to reduce the number of clients arriving in person, and, while necessary to limit the spread of the virus, it has only further delayed the consultation process.

The virus did not diminish practices’ intention to stay in contact with clients however and in fact saw a sharp rise in various methods they used to remain engaged with them.

Just over half (52%) of vets surveyed said they communicated via email more with clients now than before coronavirus.

Older methods such as communication via phone actually increased substantially as well, as 65% of vets that we surveyed globally said they communicated via phone with clients more now than before coronavirus.

Just under a third of practices (30%) increased their social media output via Facebook and around 16% admitted they had done so on other platforms.

If this method develops into the “new normal”, this may not necessarily be a bad thing.

According to VetTimes, a new AI software has predicted that as much as 80% of consultations could be manageable at home.

The study conducted by app-based veterinary service Joii, found that the majority of cases it dealt with throughout the coronavirus pandemic did not require a follow-up and could be dealt with remotely.

Remote consultations have not been limited to apps like Joii, however.

Some practices, such as Gortlands Vets in Belfast, The Veterinary Health Center and those part of the Priory Veterinary Group, have started to offer remote consultation services themselves.

As Zoom reported a jump from 10 million users to over 200 million in three months, veterinary practices, such as those listed above, made appointments over the teleconferencing app and even over WhatsApp, an option for pet owners.

The PDSA announced in August that it had conducted more than one million remote consultations since the start of the pandemic.

Despite their usefulness during the pandemic, remote consultations are not perfect and have had their critics. There has been an ongoing debate about prescribing medicines remotely without having physically examined an animal.

However, there has been no evidence so far to suggest that animal welfare has been compromised with this method.

It will be most interesting to see if other practices join those that are already offering online consultations and if app services continue to attract pet owners.

Whether veterinary surgeries will find more alternative ways like WhatsApp and Zoom to consult patients remotely also remains to be seen.

Veterinary nurses overlooked as petition calls for better understanding  

While it is commonly known that vet surgeons have one of the most demanding jobs, veterinary nurses are often overlooked when understanding the stress that those who work in the industry are under.

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Brexit = Vetxit? Vet numbers fall as pet population rises  

While the coronavirus pandemic has created a whole host of issues for the veterinary industry globally, the UK has faced a new number of challenges following Brexit.

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Pandemic delay in vaccination and check-ups a danger as parvovirus numbers rise  

The coronavirus pandemic has birthed a number of challenges for every industry, not least veterinarians.

As there has been a rise in stress levels in vets, delays caused by lockdowns has led to a decline in treatments for pets, particularly vaccinations and check-ups, which has created a huge backlog.

Read more…

Less experienced vets working longest hours in veterinary industry

The latest data from over 800 companion animal veterinarians in the US has found that among employed vets, those with less experience tend to work on average around four hours per week more than those who have worked around 10 times as many years as a trained veterinarian.

Read more…

Stress: the biggest global pandemic threatening the veterinary industry?

It’s fair to say that the pandemic has caused stress for us all. It’s the caring professions, though, who have probably had the most direct and heavy impact on their stress levels. Veterinary work is often not given the acknowledgement it deserves as a caring profession. In this short blog piece we’ll use data from our recent VetsSurvey to look at stress levels in the veterinary profession across the world.

Read more…

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