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Benefits of practice ownership among US private practice veterinarians extend to professional quality of life

Frederic B. OuedraogoVeterinary Economics Division, AVMA, Schaumburg, IL

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Sandra L. LefebvreMarketing & Communications Division, AVMA, Schaumburg, IL

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Abstract

Objective

To estimate the effects of practice ownership on wellbeing of US private practice veterinarians.

Sample

1,217 practice owners and 1,414 associate veterinarians (ie, nonowners) who participated in the 2021 AVMA Census of Veterinarians and Practice Owners Survey.

Procedures

A professional quality of life instrument was used to measure compassion satisfaction (CS; a positive attribute), burnout (BO), and secondary traumatic stress (STS) in practice owners and nonowners both as scores and as score categories (low, moderate, and high CS, BO, and STS). For hypothesis tests, propensity score matching was used, with owners (n = 595) matched to nonowners (595) on several demographic and employment factors.

Results

Owners had significantly (P < .001) higher CS scores (mean ± SE, 34.1 ± 0.3) and lower BO scores (26.1 ± 0.3) than nonowners (32.8 ± 0.3 and 26.9 ± 0.3, respectively), but STS scores were comparable between groups (27.4 ± 0.3 and 27.5 ± 0.3; P = .55). The prevalence of low CS scores and high BO scores was significantly (P < .001) higher for nonowners versus owners (53.8% vs 42.7% and 51.6% vs 46.4%, respectively). Both owners and nonowners had a high prevalence of high STS scores (81.8% and 83.2%, respectively; P = .53).

Clinical Relevance

Results suggested that practice ownership confers a benefit to private practice veterinarians in terms of CS and BO, but not STS. The prevalence of poor CS, BO, and STS scores was higher than reported previously for 2016 to 2018, suggesting an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The high prevalence of high STS scores in both groups warrants attention and action to protect the welfare of the veterinary workforce and support optimal patient care.

Abstract

Objective

To estimate the effects of practice ownership on wellbeing of US private practice veterinarians.

Sample

1,217 practice owners and 1,414 associate veterinarians (ie, nonowners) who participated in the 2021 AVMA Census of Veterinarians and Practice Owners Survey.

Procedures

A professional quality of life instrument was used to measure compassion satisfaction (CS; a positive attribute), burnout (BO), and secondary traumatic stress (STS) in practice owners and nonowners both as scores and as score categories (low, moderate, and high CS, BO, and STS). For hypothesis tests, propensity score matching was used, with owners (n = 595) matched to nonowners (595) on several demographic and employment factors.

Results

Owners had significantly (P < .001) higher CS scores (mean ± SE, 34.1 ± 0.3) and lower BO scores (26.1 ± 0.3) than nonowners (32.8 ± 0.3 and 26.9 ± 0.3, respectively), but STS scores were comparable between groups (27.4 ± 0.3 and 27.5 ± 0.3; P = .55). The prevalence of low CS scores and high BO scores was significantly (P < .001) higher for nonowners versus owners (53.8% vs 42.7% and 51.6% vs 46.4%, respectively). Both owners and nonowners had a high prevalence of high STS scores (81.8% and 83.2%, respectively; P = .53).

Clinical Relevance

Results suggested that practice ownership confers a benefit to private practice veterinarians in terms of CS and BO, but not STS. The prevalence of poor CS, BO, and STS scores was higher than reported previously for 2016 to 2018, suggesting an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The high prevalence of high STS scores in both groups warrants attention and action to protect the welfare of the veterinary workforce and support optimal patient care.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table S1 (PDF 222 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Ouedraogo (fouedraogo@avma.org)