The Jeffrey Bear Foundation, Inc.
The State of the Veterinary Profession
Veterinary staff work in their field because they love animals, many also volunteer their time and knowledge outside of work, in one way or another, but they face many other challenges:
• Increased pet ownership (67% from 2019 to 2022) and expanding treatment options, has been increasing the demand for veterinary services.
• This demand is expected to increase 17% more by 2030.
• At the same time, there are major shortages in veterinary staff; there are few training programs, admission is very competitive and costs are beyond the reach of many applicants.
• In the course of a routine day of well-care visits, veterinary staff must also accommodate urgent care needs.
• With the increased use of social media, veterinary professionals have become subjects of cruel cyberbullying.
• Veterinary staff become attached to their patients over the life of their care; end of life care is often as emotionally difficult for the staff as for the pet owners.
Because there are few training programs, veterinary schools can select for perfectionism; it is no surprise that veterinary staff score higher for neuroticism on the big five personality assessment.
Student loan debt is up to a 6:1 ratio relative to a first year veterinarian’s salary.
Improvements in the availability of high-tech diagnostic and treatment options has increased the cost to operate a clinic.
Although trained to provide diverse specialized treatments, factors outside the staff’s control (e.g., owner finances) may prevent them from delivering the care they know is needed, causing great angst.
The extreme highs and lows experienced by veterinary staff on a daily basis require greater life balance which is difficult to achieve with increasing demands of the profession.
Insurance coverage is not as prevalently employed by pet patients as in the human medicine field.
Recent data (2019) has found the suicide rate among veterinary staff is higher than the general population:
1.6 times higher for male veterinarians
2.4 times higher for female veterinarians
5.0 times more likely for male Veterinary technicians and technologists
2.3 times more likely for female Veterinary technicians and technologists
31% of veterinarians experience depressive episodes,
17% experienced suicidal ideations, and
Only 24% of veterinarians under age 35 would recommend their profession