Veterinary Stress at Work: 8 Simple Ways to Deal With It

5 min read

Biting dogs, upset clients, ringing telephones, and long hours are all part of a day in the life of a veterinary professional. Since veterinary stress at work isn’t going to go away, it’s up to you as a leader or colleague to help your team manage it in the best way possible to ensure everyone’s happiness and productivity.

Recognizing stress in yourself and your coworkers is the first step in reducing it and saving your team, as nearly 42% of us have seriously thought about quitting our jobs. If your team is continuously bickering, making mistakes, or expressing their unhappiness, stress at work could be blamed.

Free Download: Veterinary Employee Happiness Survey Template

Many jobs are stressful, so what’s the big deal with veterinary stress? The big deal is that stress can negatively affect our mental and physical health as well as productivity.

Mental health is already a concern in veterinary medicine, as nearly 25% of veterinary professionals have thought about suicide. Additionally, nearly 80% have experienced extreme depression. We all can agree that those numbers are too high.

Stress reduction in the workplace can go a long way in bettering your team members’ mental health and increasing productivity for the bottom line of your veterinary practice. So how do you go about decreasing that stress? Let’s find out.

1. Talk about It

It’s no secret that stress is a problem in veterinary medicine. Rather than hope that it goes away, bring it into the light. Hold regular wellness meetings or provide your team with questionnaires to reveal where they feel stressed and ways that may help them cope.

As a team leader, you may need to start by sharing your stressful experiences first so that your team can muster the courage to open up.

2. Identify the causes of stress at work

Knowing what causes stress within your veterinary practice and recognizing when you or teammates are feeling stressed will help you take a step back and do something about it before it’s allowed to escalate. This may coincide with talking about it.

Maybe you or other team members didn’t realize that something was stressful until another person brought it up. Open and honest communication will help everyone become more in touch with how their job makes them feel.

3. Set clear expectations

Nothing’s more stressful than not knowing what your job is or how to do it, especially when you are new to a practice or unfamiliar with a system that’s been brought in. There may be some stressful trepidations among team members that don’t fully understand their roles.

Ensure that everyone has a precise understanding of what is expected of them by providing them with a printed outline of their duties and giving them the training they need to be successful. If you are unclear yourself, discuss with your superiors to reach an agreement and gain relevant training.

4. Break tasks up

Give everyone a much-needed breather (or breathers!) throughout the day to give them to get a second to relax, unwind, and recharge. It never hurts to pencil in some downtime amongst a busy appointment schedule. Having a quiet, comfortable breakroom will help with this as well.

Allocate a deadline or a set time for tasks so you and colleagues don’t need to rush to finish everything at once. Attending one task at a time helps heaps in reducing veterinary stress at work!

5. Eat healthy to be healthy

Being hungry is a real thing! Keeping healthy snacks on hands, such as nuts, fruits, and whole grains, will not only prevent those low blood sugar squabbles; it will also help instill healthy eating habits in your team. Physical and mental wellbeing are closely connected, so helping one can help balance the other. Eating unhealthy or fatty snacks instead will only make you feel more lethargic and sleepy, decreasing efficiency. 

6. Check on teammate’s stress at work

Ask your veterinary team how they are doing. This includes you! While some team members may be hesitant to openly share their work-related woes, a closed-door session may make them more comfortable. Making it a regular part of their schedule will help them feel secure as well.

7. Help with getting help

If you or someone on your practice team is struggling, help them get the help they need. This may include changes to a work schedule or seeing a mental health professional. Whatever will help reduce those stresses, or help someone adapt to them, help them get it.

8. Promote a work/life balance

We can’t work 24/7, so having something outside of work that makes us happy is of great importance as it minimizes stress at work. Encourage your team members to pursue outside interests, such as volunteering, family activities, exercise, or education. Providing your team with workshops or information on this may help them figure it out.

Final Thoughts

Stress at work is a real concern in the veterinary industry. If we want to continue to attract and retain reliable, efficient, and effective team members this needs to be addressed, reduced, and dealt with appropriately.

By implementing the above tips and making them part of your practice culture, you’ll be on the right track to achieving a positive working environment that is totally stress-free (well, as stress-free as a veterinary one can be 😉).