Veterinary Burnout – 6 Successful Ways Of Solving It

5 min read

A survey done by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons found that 90% of vets believe their work is stressful. 21% of people reported that they felt unable to cope with the stress that they were under, and 63% felt as though they worked too hard. 48% of the people who participated in the survey had experienced burnout at some point during their career. Although it’s impossible to stop veterinary burnout entirely, it is possible to support your team’s mental, physical, and emotional health during this challenging time.

1. Identify the signs of veterinary burnout

Burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. It is primarily caused by prolonged periods of stress. It often occurs in those who are not able to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, people begin to lose interest, drive, and passion for what they do. At times they may even begin to question why they choose this career path.

It is impossible to run practice this way, so you need to recognise the signs of burnout before it gets to this stage. Signs of burnout include loss of appetite, stress, an unusual amount of mistakes, missed deadlines, and fatigue.

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2. Limit new clients if your schedule is full

I know that taking on new clients is the best way for you to grow your veterinary practice, but this isn’t always what’s best for your team. If you know that your team is run off their feet and scrambling just to see the pets that are coming in, then taking on new clients will result in everyone having a negative experience. You’ll have pets piling up in the waiting room, burnt-out staff, and a lower level of service.

This isn’t what you want, so put a pause on advertising, marketing, taking on new clients, and freebies. Give your team the chance to get ahead and put a focus on growth when they are able to manage the increased workload.

3. Avoid overtime work for your team

I know first-hand how chaotic veterinary practices can be. To complicate matters further, more and more practices are now offering round-the-clock care in an attempt to expand service offerings to clients. Although this is wise, it can put a huge amount of strain on your team. It may be that your vets are working overtime on a regular basis and that they have a poor work-life balance.

This can lead to them experiencing feelings of frustration. Stopping overtime for a month can go a long way when it comes to alleviating burnout. Having a staff schedule will also help, as it puts certain key members of your staff under less pressure.

4. Speak to individual team members about their well-being

I for one, always make the effort to check in with my vets if I find myself in a room with them alone. Ask them how they are doing, talk about their responsibilities, if there is anything bothering them or if they are under undue stress for any reason at all. Something as simple as changing their working hours, or giving them a longer break can work wonders.

If they have children that they need to pick up from school, or if they are currently caring for an elderly relative then small actions like this can help to give them the headspace they need to return to work more energetic and focused. I know that it’s not easy to just give people extra breaks or flexible working hours, but as a one-off, it can curb the more extreme effects of burnout.

5. Create a safe workplace culture for your team

I personally think that work breaks are the single, most effective weapon you have against staff burnout. If you give your team a lot of breaks then this is great, but you also need to give them somewhere they can get away from the hustle and bustle from the practice.

It may be that you set up a break room towards the back of the practice and that you add a television, a magazine rack, and a good coffee machine. Adding a cozy sofa with a footstool will also give them the chance to rest their feet between shifts, in comfort.

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6. Show gratitude and appreciation, every Day

Burnt out staff often feel under-appreciated. This can lead to them showing a lack of empathy to the people who come into your practice. One way for you to combat this would be for you to try and show them that you appreciate them and that you reward their efforts.

I love the idea of hand-written notes, but you can also buy flowers, boxes of chocolates, or even a keyring that highlights their dedication to helping others through a nice message. I know from personal experience that things like this can mean the world to burnt-out staff.

Final Thoughts

I know burnout is real, and although you might never be able to stop it entirely, you can take steps to proactively help those who are experiencing it.

Discover transformative solutions to alleviate veterinary burnout by talking to our experts at Vetstoria. Learn firsthand how you can reduce burnout in your veterinary practice, or explore the ways Vetstoria can make a difference. Schedule a demo today and take the first step towards a healthier and more fulfilling work environment for you and your team.