Rise in Stress Among Pandemic Veterinarians
Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, many veterinarians are experiencing a rise in stress and physical exhaustion as protocols change and patient numbers rise.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Veterinarians
In a recent article posted by The Hill, the drastic changes implemented in clinics to meet COVID-19 protocol, along with an increase in patient visits, has left many veterinarians worn down. Concern for staff and patient safety became the number one priority for many companies during 2020 and 2021. Social distancing practices and sanitation requirements changed how many vet clinics operated and managed patient needs. Not only were clinics changing protocols regarding how they worked on patients, but also how they interacted with each other.
These protocol changes caused many clinics to experience a decrease in productivity, according to an August 2021 AVMA article. The average number of patients a veterinarian could see per hour decreased during the pandemic due to new staffing and sanitation protocols. As efficiency and productivity declined, the wait time for appointments and scheduling difficulty increased. This ripple effect continued throughout many practices as they struggled to make the new protocols fit their patient demand.
As veterinarians and staff adjusted to their operational changes, they were met by an increase in clinic visits. According to data compiled by Vet Success, monthly appointments jumped by 4.5% in 2020 compared to 2019. This growth continued into 2021 as the average clinic received 6.5% more visits in the first six months of 2021 than they saw in early 2020. The increase in appointments left many vet clinics struggling to meet the demand while adhering to the new COVID-19 protocols.
The Spike in Clinic Visits
The rise in clinic visits also comes as a result of the pandemic. Many pet owners returned home during the pandemic allowing them to spend time with their furry companions while working remotely. Since owners were home all day, subtle limps, inconsistent eating habits, excessive scratching, and other signs of illness or injury were more likely to be noticed. Typically, these ailments would go unnoticed until the pet’s condition worsened; however, the attention pets received increased with more people at home.
Lisa Parshley, a co-founder of Olympia Veterinary Specialists, also contributes to the rise in pet value during the pandemic to the increase in clinic and animal hospital visits. As lockdowns commenced around the country, pets became some people’s only source of companionship and social interaction. This increased the emotional and sentimental value that was placed on pets. Since there was higher emotional value associated with pets during this time, owners did not want to take any chances when it came to pet health and safety.
Possible Solutions for Decreasing Stress
As many clinics battle the rough waters of decreased productivity, increased patient visits, and overwhelmed staff, AVMA recommends a few solutions to help alleviate stress from employees.
Create a Supportive Team
One of the most vital components of a successful clinic is creating a supportive team. It is more crucial than ever that the office environment welcomes, engages, and appreciates staff. Environments that foster personal growth will see the highest return on investment among employees. Show all staff members that their work is appreciated and highlight the strengths that they bring to the table. When employees feel valued and included in their work environment, productivity increases in all areas and turnover is likely to decrease.
Own Employee Talent
Another key to decreasing employee stress and burnout is to hone in on employee strengths and talents. Take a moment to step back and evaluate each member of your team. What are their strengths? Which areas do they excel at? And how can you use those strengths to increase the productivity of your practice? By employing the strengths, talents, or passions of all team members, the overall productivity and morality of the team will increase.
One critical component of preventing burnout is removing unnecessary stress and work from employees. The best way to do this is to implement technology wherever possible. It really is worth the time to research what new advancements have been created and released. Many software programs have been developed to assist companies with administrative processes and management activities. In today’s society, where technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives, it is more important than ever to connect patients with virtual resources. These resources can range from online symptom checkers to remote scheduling. Connecting patient owners and staff with virtual resources alleviates stress usually placed on staff.
How MeasureON! ’s Remote Monitoring can Alleviate Physician Stress
In the area of technology, one device that can help alleviate the stress associated with pet procedures is the MeasureON! Remote Monitoring Harness. MeasureON! is a smart harness designed to measure canine vitals during hospitalization and post-anesthesia. The current temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, activity level, and ECG of the animal are displayed live in the VetMeasure mobile app. Receiving up-to-date vitals on patients allows veterinarians to worry less about the condition of patients during critical periods and prevents tragedies from occurring.