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Hiring Veterinarians: The past, the present and the future

Veterinarian marketplace
Hiring veterinarians

The veterinary industry has undeniably been through a whirlwind in recent years, particularly during and after the pandemic.  This period has reshaped many aspects of our profession, from hiring to telemedicine and cloud software.  Let's dive into some fundamental changes and challenges we've faced and consider what the future might hold for veterinarians and relief vets.

The Pandemic Pet Boom: A Double-Edged Sword

Remember when the pandemic first hit?  Suddenly, everyone seemed to want a pet to keep them company during those long lockdown days, leading to an unexpected surge in demand for veterinary services and putting a strain on clinics and hospitals.  Practices found themselves in a tough spot, scrambling to hire enough staff to cope with the unprecedented high demand.

The Salary Surge: Blessing or Curse?

One of the more eyebrow-raising trends during this period was the skyrocketing salaries, particularly for current vet students and new graduates.  Fresh out of veterinary school, these young professionals were in the driver's seat, and with the high demand for them, they too saw their offers skyrocket: some as high as 180k, unheard of in pre-pandemic times.  This phenomenon raised questions about sustainability and the long-term implications for the industry.

Veterinarian and Technician Shortages:

Amidst all this, there was constant talk about a shortage of veterinarians and registered vet techs.  Platforms and podiums were replete with discussions on this crisis.  However, the issue was more than a shortage but rather a shortage of leadership and support within the industry.  Feeling undervalued and overworked, many vets, techs, and other supporting role members began to seek alternative paths.

The Rise and Shift of Relief Vets

Traditionally seen as a temporary solution, many veterinarians turned to relief work to escape the pressures of full-time practice.  It offered flexibility, variety, and often better pay.  But here's an interesting twist – in my prediction last year, I suggested that by April 2024, we'd start seeing a shift.  As clients return to the workplace and work from home, they die down less and less, and practices will notice a drop in appointments if they have not already done so.  Relief vets might find it harder to fill their schedules or maintain their high hourly rates and might begin to look for more stable associate positions.  And indeed, as early as September, we began to see this prediction come true.

Looking Ahead: What Does the Future Hold?

So, what does all this mean for the future of our profession?  The landscape is shifting, and it's more important than ever for us to adapt.  We need to focus on sustainable practices, support our emerging professionals, and foster leadership that can navigate these turbulent times.  While there will always be a market for relief vets, their demand will fall more in line with the pre-pandemic times.  

In light of the above and all the forced changes or the rise of corporate ownership, these changes started a revolution—the innovation of the new Veterinary models.  Many startups have shaken the status quo, giving birth to a new era.  A topic for another day, stay tuned.

Rhys Giannarelli

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