Strategies to Manage Stress in the Veterinary Practice

July 27, 2016
Sarah Anwar

There are many ways to cope with stress. It’s important to find out what works for you and just go with it.

We all know the stresses of everyday life, and how they can affect our health and performance at work. However, being a veterinarian that runs their own practice can introduce a whole new level of stress to one’s life. From dealing with record-keeping, to juggling finances, there are more stress-inducing routines in a vet’s life than preferred.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides several tips for stress-relief. According to AVMA, several factors can help ease stress:

  • Incorporate regular exercise into your day
  • Get a decent amount of sleep each night
  • Don’t be a workaholic—balance work and play
  • Don’t "stress eat"—follow a well-balanced diet
  • Watch your alcohol consumption
  • Delegate tasks to the rest of the workforce
  • Don’t give yourself time to dwell on conflict, resolve it as soon as you can
  • Spend time with those whose company you enjoy
  • Reap the benefits of human-animal bonding—play with a pet!

Another approach is to try to stop stress before it starts. The Mayo Clinic provides severals ways to avoid stress:

Take Control of Your Surroundings: Try to minimize potentially stressful situations. If you know that a certain client is bringing in their pet for a check-up, and you know this pet doesn’t do well around other animals, try to schedule the appointment after hours.

Avoid People Who Bother You: If one of your clients thinks that their pet has alopecia just because that’s what Google said it was, and they won't listen to your assessment, maybe it’s time to "fire the client."

Learn to Say No: Everyone should have a life outside of work that also needs attention. It’s important to do what YOU want to do in your time off. You need to take the time to rest and recharge your batteries. If you don’t feel like going to your loud uncle’s family reunion, just don’t.

State Limits in Advance: Sometimes it’s hard to see all the scheduled patients. Why not start by setting limits? Give each client a set time during which they can discuss their pet’s issues after a full exam is completed. As the time limit approaches, gently let them know that you need to give ample time to the next patient, too, and perhaps, suggest they email you with any additional questions.

There are many ways to cope with stress. It’s important to find out what works for you and just go with it.