Weekly Veterinary News Roundup: ‘Veterinary Profession Ranked As One Of The Most Desperate Industries For Workers’

weekly veterinary news

Catch up on this week’s top headlines with the weekly veterinary news roundup, presented by VetX International.

Veterinary Profession Ranked As One Of The Most Desperate Industries For Workers

Alongside sawmills, psychologists’ offices, and textile mills, the veterinary industry has been ranked as one of the most desperate sectors for workers, according to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This is partially related to the rise in pet ownership, which peaked back in April 2020.

‘Everybody is mentally and physically exhausted. They are giving more than what they can’ veterinarian Christina Davis told West Virginia television station WTAP

‘We don’t have time for our personal lives really at all, and it’s really taken a toll on the veterinary world.’

Kathryn Carlson, a practice owner in California, told The Washington Post that the pandemic had worsened client relations, driving worker dissatisfaction. 

‘I lost two of my receptionists when a client was rude, even using profanities, which caused my two receptionists to cry’ Carlson said. Since the pandemic, her staff has decreased from 49 to 38, in part due to increased stress levels. 

Although earnings for non-managerial employees have increased by 16% since the pandemic began, employment rates are lower than they were pre-recession. 

Only time will tell how the industry will bounce back post-pandemic. 

To read more on this story, click here.

Non-Profit Aims To Prevent Suicide Within Veterinary Cohorts

The Veterinary Hope Foundation (VHF) is a non-profit that aims to prevent veterinary suicide. Founded by Blair McConnel, VMD, MBA, and Elizabeth Chosa, DVM, the formation of VHF was driven by a spur of recent suicides which occurred around the one-year mark of the pandemic. 

‘They just absolutely broke my heart’ said Dr. McConnel. 

Over the last three decades, alarming suicide rates (particularly in women), have shaken up the veterinary sphere. According to a 2019 study by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, female vets are 3.5 more times likely to die by suicide than the general population. 

The organization’s mission is to provide early suicide prevention. This will be primarily done through interactive support groups. The charity will also provide resources to assist vets with client communication, work-life balance, compassion fatigue, and resilience. 

‘It’s a very lonely profession in some ways’ says McConnel. 

‘Our goal is to build a community where veterinarians can talk about the challenges we’re all dealing with every day… our support groups would address these issues head-on.’

For more on this story, click here. 

Support Service For Vets Under Investigation Launched

The Royal College of Veterinary Services (RCVS) has launched a support service for veterinary nurses and surgeons undergoing ‘investigation’ for their conduct. 

The service called the ProfCon Investigation Service (PCIS) provides support for veterinary professionals struggling with the investigative process. Funded by the RCVS and its Mind Matters Initiative, the RCVS hopes to alleviate the stresses of professionals accused of professional misconduct. 

In a statement from Lizzie Lockett, CEO of RVCS, she said:

‘At the RCVS we recognize that being investigated in respect of alleged professional misconduct is a very stressful and trying experience that can knock confidence and, in some cases, lead to distress amongst practitioners.’

‘While part of the social contract of being members of regulated and protected professions is that, when accusations around professional misconduct are made, they have to be fully investigated by a regulator to determine if there is a case to answer. As a compassionate regulator, we want to make sure that individuals going through this process can access the help and support they need.’

‘This service is staffed by a team of brilliant volunteers who already have experience in providing help and support on matters of mental health and wellbeing and have received additional training to augment their ability to provide emotional support to vets and nurses who may be under investigation.’

‘In our Strategic Plan for 2020-24, one of our key ambitions is to strengthen our credentials as a compassionate regulator that acts with empathy and understanding. The ProfCon Investigation Support Service is an important step in fulfilling this ambition, and I hope that it can deliver help to the people that need it.’

For more on this story, click here.

Outrage Over ‘Rise’ In Corporate Veterinary Fees

Corporate practice groups have come under fire after allegations surrounding rising vet bills.

IVC Evidensia, CVS, Vet4pets, Medivet, VetPartners, and Linnaeus currently own more than half of all practices in the UK. Critics of corporate acquisition have accused these companies of using their market share of the veterinary industry to drive up prices- resulting in higher vet bills. 

The allegations emerged after an article was published in the Sunday Times discussing the subject. This led to a raucous debate on Good Morning Britain, prompting a response from the British Veterinary Association (BVA). 

In response, corporate groups have ardently argued that costs are related to the quality of equipment used in practices and the skill of their staff. 

In a statement from the CVS group, they said:

‘Our primary focus is on providing the highest quality clinical services to customers and their animals, and our strong commitment to giving the very best care possible is reflected in everything we do.’

‘We believe in fair and transparent pricing, and have only applied inflationary price increases for the past three years in our small animal practices. We deferred this price increase last July, given the impact from COVID-19 on our customers’ ability to access our services.’

‘We have been recognized by the RCVS for our outstanding work on clinical governance, being the first veterinary group to publish an annual quality improvement report focused on improving patient outcomes, reflecting our relentless focus on driving standards across the business.’

‘All of our practices also participate in the voluntary RCVS Practice Standards Scheme and more than half of our executive committee comprises veterinary clinicians.’

For more on this story, click here. 

Will Immigration Solve Australia’s Veterinary Shortage? 

Although veterinarians have been recognized as necessary skilled migrants by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Veterinary Association’s (AVA) president has questioned the effectiveness of said policy changes. 

Currently, the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) recognizes 19 critical occupations needed to assist in Australia’s economic recovery after the pandemic. 

President Warwick Vale told reporters that whilst he welcomes the PMSOL changes, he is skeptical of whether migrants will be able to fill the 800 veterinary positions needed. 

‘We actually have to look at what our business model is and make the profession more sustainable for our colleagues, especially the younger ones that are entering the profession,’ he said. 

‘What we’d need to do is … change the workplace practices such that our employed veterinarians and business owners who also are not finding their business sustainable can [continue], and that’s a whole quantum change of thinking of how we deliver services.’

‘There’s been a massive increase in demand for veterinary services now for the companion animal space … and that’s increasing the demand in city and metropolitan practices and now we have a shortfall there.’ 

‘Veterinarians are just working incredibly long hours day after day at the coalface of delivering veterinary services in-country and regional and in city practices; that’s a major concern.’

For more on this story, click here. 

Strategies To Reduce Anxiety When You’re In A Pinch 

When work is piling on and clients are calling, anxiety can mount. 

Though short episodes of anxiety can be normal, persistent feelings of dread and fear are not. Thankfully, there are few strategies you can utilize in the clinic to reduce said feelings.

Deep breathing is a meditative technique that can be used to provide quick relief during pressurized situations. It works by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, counteracting the body’s fight or flight response.

Here are some techniques you can use at home or work.

Abdominal (Diaphragmatic) Breathing 

This technique involves inhaling through your nose and slowly exhaling from your mouth in a controlled way. 

  1. Get into a comfortable position, either sitting in a chair or lying down.
  2. Put your hand on your chest and your other hand on your belly. 
  3. Inhale slowly through your nose, drawing breath in and downward toward your stomach area whilst keeping your chest still. 
  4. While pursing your lips together, press gently on your stomach or tighten your tummy muscles and exhale slowly through your mouth. 

This technique is the best when done 3-4 times a day. 

Pursed-Lip Breathing 

This is a simple anti-anxiety buster. Research shows that it is an excellent way to relax- even improving the functioning of those with respiratory conditions. 

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose for two seconds. 
  2. Purse or pucker your lips.
  3. Finally, breathe out slowly through your lips for around four seconds. 

This strategy can be used 4-5 times a day. 

Resonant (Coherent) Breathing 

This method is shown to lower a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. 

  1. While counting to the number five in your head, inhale air into your lungs.
  2. Breathe out slowly and strongly as you can for five seconds. 

Repeat this pattern at a rate of three to seven breaths per minute. 

For more on this topic, click here. 

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