• One Health
  • Pain Management
  • Oncology
  • Geriatric & Palliative Medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Poultry Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology
  • Theriogenology
  • Nutrition
  • Animal Welfare
  • Radiology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Small Ruminant
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Feline Medicine
  • Soft Tissue Surgery
  • Urology/Nephrology
  • Avian & Exotic
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Anesthesiology & Pain Management
  • Integrative & Holistic Medicine
  • Food Animals
  • Behavior
  • Zoo Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Orthopedics
  • Emergency & Critical Care
  • Equine Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Shelter Medicine
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Virtual Care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Epidemiology
  • Fish Medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Livestock
  • Endocrinology

How job-hopping is affecting practices, and what you can do about it

dvm360dvm360 June 2023
Volume 54
Issue 6
Pages: 60

Job-hopping is inevitable, but letting it disrupt your practice is optional

nuruddean / stock.adobe.com

nuruddean / stock.adobe.com

It’s no secret that veterinary medicine is facing a shortage of qualified professionals. To make matters worse, more individuals are becoming job-hoppers, switching jobs frequently in search of better opportunities. This requires veterinary practices to work even harder to maintain their teams.

Job-hopping is real

Job-hopping is driven by factors including demographic shifts, increased demand for workers, and rising salary expectations, especially among millennials and Generation Z. A survey conducted by Lattice revealed that nearly 60% of employees who were in their current job for less than 6 months were already looking to move on.1

Five common causes and how to respond proactively

1. Poor boundaries: Veterinary teams struggle with boundaries. With demand being higher than ever, there’s only so much you can do about the workload, but it’s vital to support your team in creating healthy boundaries and managing stress.

2. Inadequate mentorship and support: Many veterinarians leave their jobs because of insufficient mentorship. A good working atmosphere, strong professional relationships, and career guidance can greatly improve retention.

3. Insufficient pay and benefits: Pay is not the No. 1 factor in employee retention—culture has a much bigger impact.2 However, no matter how great your practice is, new employees will continue looking for other opportunities if your compensation is too low. Assuming you’re offering wages that are consistent with the skill level and knowledge of the employee, it’s OK to have a lower starting salary for untrained paraprofessionals who can increase their pay as they learn.

4. Lack of career opportunities: Many practice owners are so involved in every decision that employees perceive little opportunity for growth. It’s vital to provide a path to increased responsibilities and career advancement for every role.

5. Inflexible schedules: It’s tough to make a schedule work around employees’ family and personal commitments, but this is an expectation of many younger employees. Flexibility can improve job satisfaction.

The roles most likely to be affected

Although job-hopping can occur with any role, I have seen this most frequently with younger veterinary technicians, assistants, and administrative staff. In these roles, job-hopping can jeopardize the efficiency of care and disrupt daily routines.

  • Veterinary technicians often cite burnout, insufficient pay or benefits, lack of mentorship, or poor practice culture as reasons for changing jobs.
  • Although receptionists are the front line of client service, practice owners will often put entry-level individuals into this role, with virtually no training and minimal pay. This tells the employee that this work is not seen as important and can lead to job-hopping.

What you can do

Improve your practice culture

The best way to defeat job-hopping is to improve the culture of your practice.
A positive work environment encourages collaboration, helps staff feel valued, and promotes ownership and responsibility.

Many individuals applying for entry-level roles have no experience but want to find out whether veterinary medicine is a good fit for them. If you’re investing a lot in training that employee, it’s legitimate to start them at a lower wage; however, their wages should increase as they gain more experience. Some additional strategies include the following:

  • Clearly define your mission, culture, and values, and communicate them to new team members during onboarding.
  • Maintain open communication with your team through regular all-staff, departmental, and one-on-one meetings.
  • Take care to prevent subcultures, such as the “front vs back” dynamic.
  • Address burnout and stress by openly discussing the emotional strain that can come with this profession and encouraging team members to support one another.
  • Show appreciation regularly through formal acknowledgments and informal thank you cards or gifts.
  • Remind your current team that training will always be a part of their work. Everyone needs to help engage new team members and make them feel welcome. It benefits all your staff and supports your mission to train new employees to be the best they can be.

Embrace the reality of job-hopping through tiered staffing plans

It’s also important to accept that there will inevitably be higher turnover in certain roles and to invest in strategies to reduce the impact.

  • Create a focused training program to integrate new employees and raise engagement. This is very important for your paraprofessional team. Start
    by training them on the top 10 things that they can learn to begin being helpful. Everyone wants to feel like they’re helping and are part of the team. Thorough training can take a while, so teaching them some basic skills in the exam room and/or the front desk right away allows them to feel like part of the team.
  • Hire in cohorts if you can. If you need 1 new front desk person, consider hiring 2 and training them together. This reduces the training workload and provides redundancy if one doesn’t work out.

Practice owners can’t eliminate job-hopping, but we can take proactive steps to reduce the impact. Understanding and addressing the contributing factors will make your practice stronger and help you deliver better patient care for your community.

Michele Drake, DVM, CVA, is the owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas, California, a 10-doctor, 55-employee hospital that consistently outperforms competitors and industry averages because of Drake’s passion for embracing change and new technologies. She has served on committees and advisory boards for the University of California, American Animal Hospital Association, Novartis, and more. Drake completed her DVM at the University of Missouri and founded The Drake Center in 1992. She also serves as the chief veterinary officer for GeniusVets. Michele can be reached via email at michele@geniusvets.com.


  1. Lattice research reveals great resignation trends. Lattice. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://lattice.com/library/ lattice-research-reveals-great-resignation-trends
  2. Culture over cash? Glassdoor multi-country survey finds more than half of employees prioritize workplace culture over salary. Glassdoor. July 10, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://about-content.glassdoor.com/en-us/workplace-culture-over-salary
Related Videos
Senior Bernese Mountain dog
© 2023 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.