Combatting the Veterinary Industry Labor Crisis
In a world where pets are cherished family members, the role of veterinary professionals has never been more crucial. However, the veterinary industry is currently facing a crisis due to a severe shortage of professionals, leading to an inability to meet the rising demand for services.
The strains on resources and staff are recognizable, with only 0.8 veterinary professionals available per 1,000 dogs and cats in the United States. Mars Veterinary Health projects that a staggering 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed by 2030 to meet the growing demand. To put this in perspective, the number of veterinarians currently stands at 124,000 and has grown at a rate of 2.4% per year since 2015. The growth rate would need to increase to 3.6% over the next seven years to meet the projected demand.
At the current growth rate of 2.4%, there will be a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians by 2030. However, evidence suggests that the veterinary shortage is underreported. AVMA data implies that roughly 2,000 veterinarians leave the profession each year, 3,000 vets retire, and some veterinary school graduates elect to pursue alternate career paths.
Image provided by AGC Partners
The shortage has significantly increased the workload for practicing veterinary professionals, resulting in a high turnover rate and increased clinic costs. The turnover rate for vet techs and vets is substantially higher than their peers at 25% and 16%, respectively, and the cost of replacing a single staff member can amount to up to $10,000 for a clinic. Various factors contribute to veterinarians leaving the profession, including poor work-life balance, burnout, toxic workplace culture, limited growth opportunities, work-related stress, and inadequate compensation.
So, what can be done to address this shortage and growing demand? Veterinary practices and clinics are increasing their utilization of technology-enabled solutions to counter the lack of professionals, improve retention, and boost productivity.
Learn how technology can help combat this veterinary industry shortage.
- Telemedicine and Remote Consultations: One of the most significant advancements in the veterinary field is the adoption of telemedicine. Remote consultations allow veterinarians to reach a broader client base and provide essential guidance without requiring in-person visits for every case. Utilizing telemedicine not only eases the workload for on-site professionals but also provides a lifeline for pet owners in underserved areas. For practitioners, increasing the delivery of veterinary services through telemedicine allows them to meet increasing client demands, reduce staff fatigue, and boost efficiency, revenue, and client retention.
- Electronic Health Records: Digital health records streamline administrative tasks, allowing veterinarians and technicians to focus more on patient care. EHRs store patient histories, test results, and treatment plans securely, ensuring that vital information is easily accessible and reducing the risk of errors. Platforms such as GlobalVetLink automatically save animal information as soon as it's entered into the system. You can effortlessly access all health and movement records and any additional test data within the animal's profile.
- Inventory Management Systems: Technology-driven inventory management systems ensure that clinics always have the necessary medications and supplies on hand, reducing the time and effort spent on restocking and minimizing disruptions to patient care.
- Electronic Animal Health and Movement Documents: Cloud-based platforms, such as GlobalVetLink, streamline animal health-related processes and reduce paperwork when creating digital animal health certificates, EIA test certificates, International health certificates, veterinary feed directives, prescriptions, and more. Powered by the intelligent built-in rules engine, the GVL Compliance Assistant platform keeps track of state, federal, and international regulations so veterinarians don’t have to. Utilizing the GVL Compliance Assistant platform streamlines the research and manual documentation process, saving considerable time and allowing veterinarians to focus on what truly matters—providing care for their clients.
- Online Appointment Scheduling and Client Communication: By offering online appointment scheduling and enhancing client communication through digital channels, clinics can efficiently manage appointments and respond to client inquiries. This reduces phone call volume and frees up staff for more critical tasks.
- Continued Education through Online Learning: Online platforms and courses enable veterinary professionals to access ongoing education and training, helping them stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in veterinary medicine. Online learning opportunities can enhance their job satisfaction and reduce the risk of burnout. GlobalVetLink, with help from industry-leading experts in animal health, provides education and awareness on the latest news and programs affecting veterinary practitioners. Our AAVSB RACE-approved webinars allow veterinarians and technicians to earn free continuing education (CE) credit.
In conclusion, the veterinary workforce shortage is a significant challenge the industry faces today. However, by embracing technology and innovative solutions, veterinary practices and clinics can improve operational efficiencies, alleviate the strain on employees, and continue to provide high-quality care to our beloved pets.
As technology continues to evolve, it offers a glimmer of hope in the face of this crisis, ensuring that our furry companions receive the care they deserve.