To determine the contributions of veterinarians and support staff to revenue and veterinarian productivity (ie, number of patients seen/full-time–equivalent veterinarian/wk) in private mixed and companion animal practices in the US and identify staff-to-veterinarian labor ratios (SVLRs) that maximized these 2 practice outputs.
409 owners of mixed and companion animal practices who participated in the 2020 AVMA Practice Owner Survey.
Data regarding owner demographics, practice characteristics, labor (defined as mean total hours worked/wk), and gross revenue in 2019 were obtained from participating practices. Multivariable ordinary least-squares regression was used to identify factors associated with revenue and productivity as well as the SVLRs at which revenue and productivity were maximized.
For each 10% increase in total veterinarian hours worked per week, revenue increased by a mean of approximately 9%. A 1-unit increase in total number of technician hours used to support 1 hour of veterinarian work was associated with a 20.5% increase in revenue but with no change in productivity. The same increase in total number of nonmedical staff hours was associated with a 17.0% increase in revenue and 14.4% increase in productivity. In terms of revenue, the optimal SVLRs for veterinary technicians and nonmedical staff were 9:1 and 8:1, respectively. In terms of productivity, the optimal SVLR for nonmedical staff was 10:1.
Findings confirmed the important role of nonveterinarian staff in revenue and veterinarian productivity in mixed animal and companion animal practices and may be useful for making evidence-based staffing decisions.
Analysis of the AVMA's electronic membership database provided information on 113,394 veterinarians living in the United States in 2018. At 39%, Millennials represented the highest percentage of the US veterinary workforce, and women (61.7%) outnumbered men (38.2%). Mean age at the time of graduation has increased since 1975, raising concerns that career length for veterinarians may be decreasing, potentially exacerbating veterinarian shortages. Overall, 83.9% of veterinarians were in private clinical practice, and substantial increases between 2008 and 2018 were seen in the numbers of veterinarians in emergency and critical care medicine and in referral or specialty practice.
To estimate the effects of practice ownership on wellbeing of US private practice veterinarians.
1,217 practice owners and 1,414 associate veterinarians (ie, nonowners) who participated in the 2021 AVMA Census of Veterinarians and Practice Owners Survey.
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.
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).
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.
To determine prevalences of low compassion satisfaction (CS), high burnout (BO), and high secondary traumatic stress (STS) scores among full-time US veterinarians and estimate effects of selected demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors on those scores.
5,020 full-time veterinarians who participated in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 AVMA Census of Veterinarians surveys.
Data were obtained from census surveys regarding demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors, and scores assigned to items from a professional quality-of-life instrument designed to measure CS and compassion fatigue (ie, BO and STS) were compared between and among various demographic and employment groups.
Overall, 35.5% of veterinarians were classified as having low CS scores, 50.2% as having high BO scores, and 58.9% as having high STS scores. Controlling for other variables, high educational debt was associated with low CS, high BO, and high STS scores. Veterinarians who spent ≥ 75% of their time working with dogs or cats had higher BO and STS scores than did those who spent < 25% of their time. Veterinarians with more experience and higher annual incomes had higher CS scores and lower BO and STS scores. Women had higher BO and STS scores than did men, but no gender differences were observed in CS scores.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Several variables were identified that may put veterinarians at higher risk than others for compassion fatigue and low CS. These findings may be useful in the development of resources and targeted initiatives to support and defend veterinarian well-being.
To evaluate technical efficiency of US companion animal practices.
60 independently owned companion animal practices selected from the 2022 AVMA Veterinary Practice Owners Survey.
A ratio of the weighted sum of outputs to weighted sum of inputs was computed for each practice (ie, decision-making unit [DMU]). Inputs included labor (hours worked) and capital (fixed costs and number of exam rooms). Outputs (or production) included annual gross revenue, number of patients seen per year, and number of appointment slots per full-time–equivalent (FTE) veterinarian per year. Data envelopment analysis was used to optimize the ratio and estimate relative efficiency (RE) scores.
25 (42%) practices were classified as having high efficiency (RE = 1 or 100% efficient), 26 (43%) as having moderate efficiency (RE > 0.7 but < 1.0), and 9 (15%) as having low efficiency (RE ≤ 0.7). Mean RE scores for moderate- and low-efficiency practices were 0.83 and 0.66, meaning they could have reached their current production levels with 17% or 34% less resources. Per the model, if all 60 practices were 100% efficient on the RE scale, 22 fewer FTE veterinarians, 47 fewer FTE veterinary technicians and assistants, and 43 fewer FTE nonmedical staff would be needed overall.
These preliminary findings suggested that efforts to optimize efficiency could allow companion animal practices to meet demands for their services without necessarily needing to hire more staff. Such efforts might include engaging support staff to their full potential and implementing automated processes. Additional research is needed to identify routines or workflows that distinguish high-efficiency practices from others.