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Thriving when life is hard

Article

To help recruit and retain veterinary professionals, changes have to be made to create a healthy work life balance for all

Vasyl/stock.adobe.com

Vasyl/stock.adobe.com

Content submitted by Heart + Paw, a dvm360® Strategic Alliance Partner.

In 2020, we were introduced to the Great Resignation and experienced employees, in record numbers, voluntarily leaving the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most veterinary hospitals are still trying to recover as veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and hospital support staff remain in high demand. Some of the top reasons a veterinary hospital employee leave veterinary medicine completely were because of low wages, burnout, or a toxic workplace. Most of us have experienced these challenges at work and to truly thrive, changes must be made on all fronts to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Learn to disconnect

We all have had our share of bad days where we needed to discuss our workday on our friends and family. The long hours, challenging cases, client communication, and lack of staffing can become overwhelming. Paid time off (PTO) is an option that allows for disconnecting from the workplace. To support someone on PTO, the remaining team members should be able to assist with the hospital duties until the away individual returns to work. This means, employers will have to strengthen the team and support the notion of teamwork.

Have a mentor

Having a mentor that you speak with regularly is both helpful and beneficial to your career and theirs. Your mentor should be someone who works in the veterinary industry and someone with whom you have a working relationship. Time should be scheduled to meet with your mentor regularly. Planning your topics to discuss will help with addressing different struggles or hardships and will allow for successes to be celebrated. According to Jennifer Herrity, a career services professional, some reasons to have a mentor are for motivation, building confidence, and to allow for growth opportunities.2

Communication and team building

Open communication should be highly encouraged. In a 2022 study conducted by Merck Animal Health on veterinary mental health and wellbeing, it was found that 9.7% of veterinarians and 18.1% of the veterinary staff are dealing with serious psychological distress.3 In that same study, it was found that a high burnout rate is directly related to how chaotic a practice is. With this knowledge, management, supervisors, and employers need to be approachable and accessible.

One way to encourage communication is to schedule and implement individualized meetings with team members. Meetings with the entire staff should happen regularly with a strong emphasis on team building and empowerment. Measures should be taken to avoid a toxic workplace and culture.

Find something that makes you thrive

To support a healthy work-life balance, spend more time doing activities that you enjoy. For example, high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts can help reduce stress. Invite a friend or colleague to work out with you or take a walk during your break. Consider subscribing to a wellness app with fitness and meditation resources. Learning and cooking a new, healthy recipe can also help to improve mental health and well-being. Hobbies, whether new or old, can be fulfilling and rewarding.

Jasmine Hill is a certified veterinary technician at Heart + Paw. Jasmine graduated from Manor College in 2013 obtaining her Associate’s degree in veterinary technology. Jasmine’s interests include feline infectious diseases and geriatric medicine. She lives in Philadelphia, PA, with her boyfriend, Isaac, and daughter, Jolene.

References

  1. Pursell S. 2023 Vet med hiring and retention trends. Aaha.org. Published December 8, 2022. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://www.aaha.org/publications/newstat/articles/2022-12/2023-vet-med-hiring-and-retention-trends/
  2. 10 Important Qualities to Look for in a Mentor, Jennifer Herrity, September 2022 https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/important-qualities-to-look-for-in-a-mentor
  3. Merck Animal Health’s third veterinarian wellbeing study reveals increased health challenges and psychological distress among veterinarians. Merck Animal Health. Published January 18, 2022. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://www.merck-animal-health.com/blog/2022/01/18/merck-animal-healths-third-veterinarian-wellbeing-study-reveals-increased-health-challenges-and-psychological-distress-among-veterinarians/
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