Those familiar with the veterinary industry know all too well about the shortage of credentialed Veterinary Technicians—Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs), Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs), Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVTs), and Licensed Veterinary Medical Technicians (LVMTs). Most are also well-aware that the average career length of a Veterinary Technician is 5 to 7 years.
Practice managers struggle to keep credentialed Vet Techs because many are offered more attractive pay at competing clinics. Many also leave the industry entirely. We’ve heard it all before: low pay, burnout, compassion fatigue, poor work-life balance, toxic work environments, lack of vertical mobility, lack of recognition, and more. But are we truly taking the initiative to address these persistent issues? Are you? Let’s find out.
1. Fair Pay for Vet Techs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for Veterinary Technologists and Veterinary Technicians within the United States is $38,250 a year. Yet, according to recent data published in a 2021 article by NerdWallet, the average annual living expenses for one person is $38,266. Consider the following questions:
- Are you paying your staff a livable wage?
- Have you adjusted wages for inflation?
- Have you performed a wage compensation analysis recently (or ever)?
- Is your credentialed staff paid fairly for their expertise?
These are all important questions to consider. Every Veterinary Technician enters the field because they love animals, not for the pay—without exception. Veterinary Technicians are committing long hours to emotional, mental, and physical work. Take an honest look at what you are offering your employees and make adjustments as needed. The medicine you practice is only as good as your assisting staff (you can’t do it alone).
2. Work-Life Balance in the Veterinary Clinic
Healthcare professionals are prone to burnout and compassion fatigue—this is a fact. They work long, demanding hours, often with very little time to reset. Again, consider the following:
- Are your employees often working overtime?
- Are your employees given adequate time off?
- Do you encourage and promote PTO?
- Is your hospital staffed adequately?
- Are you employees frequently asked to perform additional duties?
Employers are responsible for preventing burnout in the workplace, not employees. If you aren’t actively supporting a healthy work-life balance in the workplace, but instead putting excessive demands on your staff under the assumption that they can do it all, you are pushing them towards burnout.
Many Vet Techs feel an underlying sense of guilt when they need to or want to use their accumulated PTO. This is often due to a lack of work-life balance in their place of employment or staffing issues. Some employees don’t want to leave their team members behind to pick up the pieces in an overwhelmed and understaffed clinic, but everyone needs time off to rest and reset. After all, there is no place for fatigue in medicine and patient care…that’s when mistakes are made. Address this head on right away.
3. Recognition of the Vet Tech Profession
Veterinary Technicians want to be recognized for their skills and accomplishments. Vet Techs are humans first, and superhumans second. We have lives outside of work, daily battles and responsibilities, feelings, insights, ideas, and experience. When we feel respected, our expertise can shine, and you—and more importantly the patients—benefit. After all, we are here for the common goal of saving lives. A little recognition goes a long way.
4. A Healthy Workplace Free of Toxicity
We need a safe place to work. Bullying in the healthcare industry is rampant, and the veterinary profession is no exception. Veterinary Technicians go into the field bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to save lives and change the world, only to see the stark reality of toxic work environments manifest. When people grow unhappy in their jobs, they can quickly become knowingly or unknowingly toxic, and toxicity is contagious.
Workplace bullying is sneaky. It often gets swept under the rug because targets feel at-risk of further repercussions for speaking up against the bully or bullying behavior. At a minimum, require your staff to undergo anti-harassment training. For larger clinics, your human resources department should be equipped to address such issues immediately. No one should be forced to endure a fearful work environment. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Finally, Veterinary Technicians are committed to their work. They don’t want to leave the industry. They don’t want to quit their jobs. They want to do what they love and do it forever. Make it possible. It’s time to take their worth seriously and act as both a leader and an ally in elevating their value and status in the industry.
Find out how to show your Vet Techs just how much you appreciate them by reading, “10 Ways to Show Vet Tech Appreciation” next.