You may have noticed some changes to our availability lately and our Practice Manager wanted to explain why this is.
Veterinary Workforce Shortage: The fact that there is a veterinary workforce shortage has been reported for years now. This is due to a number of reasons such as student drop outs, low entry number into university, no more movement of locums in and out of our country, droves of experienced vets leaving our industry due to compassion fatigue, client abuse and emotional blackmail, unrealistic expectations, poor mental health and suicide. All vet clinics are consequently experiencing a veterinarian shortage and seeing an unprecedented decline in vets to fill open positions. Anyone working as a medical professional experiences higher than average suicide rates. If you’re working as a veterinarian, this figure quadruples and equates to a vets life lost every 12 weeks. Many members of the community don’t realise the negative impact their behaviour can have on our professionals – particularly if they are being rude, unreasonable or have unrealistic expectations.
Reduced Capacity Due to the Pandemic: Due to the spread of Covid-19, our staff have had to adapt to additional measures or policies. Changes to the way in which we operate (such as running car park consultations) increases our workload and ties up more of our vet and nursing teams time.
Greater Demand for Services: We are also experiencing an increase in demand due to the rise in pet adoption, postponed visits during lockdown, increased owner awareness, social distancing limitations, lack of appointments at other clinics who are reducing their hours during the week and even closing on weekends altogether, as well as the flow on effect from emergency centres being closed on some days due to the workforce shortage.
What you can do to help
We are overwhelmed and it may be more difficult for you to find an appointment but in all cases, we will always provide guidance as to the best solution for your pets medical needs. The most important ways you can help us during this busy time are:
- Always phone ahead to check our opening hours as these may be subject to change at any time and subject to staff availability
- Phone to book advance appointments for non-urgent veterinary care
- When we say ‘We’re really sorry but we are fully booked’, we have likely turned away many more people before you. We wish we could help you but we simply can’t because it means we don’t have the resources or capability. We will of course best advise you you as to how to seek the best solution for your pets medical needs. The common reaction to this is anger and assertions that ‘you don’t care’ or ‘I am a long term client so you must squeeze me in’. The truth is – we do care greatly and we feel awful turning anyone away however our staff don’t deserve this mental pressure or emotional blackmail.
- Request prescription medication refills minimum one week to your pet running out – this gives us time to process requests (which require veterinary review and approval), and order in the medication
- Expect delays if you would like to speak with one of our veterinarians. If your inquiry cannot wait approximately 3 days then please schedule a visit
- A delay in response time to emails, requests for medication or requests for insurance forms will take longer than usual so kindly allow for this
- Try to be patient with and appreciative of our veterinary team – vets are already under high stress, and the extra workload of the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened this. We understand that you may be stressed about your own pet, but our staff may have just come out of emergency surgery, or put someone else’s beloved pet to sleep.
- Also please understand that every single day we may have vet and nurse shortages due to short term Covid isolation, placing extreme pressure on the remaining staff.
Love Your Pet Love Your Vet is a registered charity leading the way in increasing well-being in the veterinary industry, raising awareness and building community support to highlight and address the disproportionately high rate of suicide within this profession, and providing psychological and educational support to these professionals. As the Love Your Pet Love Your Vet initiative highlights, there are a number of things you can do to help and support your vet. As a pet owner, it is normal to feel anxiety or stress when something happens to your beloved pet. However, it’s important to be mindful that while you are one person dealing with your stress, for the veterinary staff at your local veterinary clinic, you are one of many clients they see each day.
When you arrive at your veterinary consultation, bear in mind that your vet may have just had to perform life-saving or emergency treatment to another pet, or even worse, may have just had to euthanase someone’s beloved animal. So please remain courteous and be sure to say ‘thank you’ to the staff, and genuinely acknowledge the amazing work they do for our beautiful pets. These simple steps can certainly go a long way! And remember – if you love your pet, be sure to love your vet. #LYPLYV
The Not One More Vet organisation is creating dialogue around just that. Their mission is to transform the status of mental wellness among veterinary professionals through education, resources, and support. Not One More Vet started in 2014 as a support group for veterinary professionals, creating a space for them to lean on each other and remember they are not alone. Since then, it has grown to host workshops and fund grants and new research in the field of veterinary mental health.
Let your vet know you appreciate them and check out the Not One More Vet organisation to learn how you can support the cause. #NOMV
To learn more about the impact negative interactions has on those in the Veterinary Industry, we encourage you to watch the SBS Insights Season 2020 Episode 17 – (https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1736874563554/veterinary-care) to get a glimpse of what is really going on behind the closed doors of your local vet clinic. In the wake of two coronial inquests, veterinarians reveal why their job is pushing them to the brink.
What we are doing for our Team
With your understanding and cooperation, our veterinarians and nurses can continue to offer your pet, and many others, the benefits of experienced, thorough and kind medical care. We do everything possible to provide excellent customer service to our clients and the best medical care to our patients. We also have an obligation to our staff to look after their mental health and well-being, and as such, do not tolerate verbal abuse towards our staff members nor via the form of social media reviews. We constantly strive to provide our team with the right work-life balance and this is a constant work in progress.
We support our staff and their passion for their job, career goals and ultimately, their love of animals.