“We do not feel valued as a profession during the COVID-19 crisis”, say veterinary professionals

New research reveals the true impact on the veterinary profession during the COVID-19 pandemic

22 July 2020, at 3:00pm

Global marcoms agency, Pegasus an Ashfield company, part of UDG Healthcare, has asked over 500 veterinarians, nurses, students and veterinary support staff in the UK to share their experience of how COVID-19 continues to impact their professional lives. The focus was on the future of the industry and asked how the “next normal” could affect veterinary professionals across the globe.

Insights revealed that despite their “essential worker” status, veterinarians do not feel valued with 60 percent not believing that the COVID-19 pandemic has improved the public’s opinion on the value of veterinary professionals and 72 percent who are concerned their clients undervalue remote consultations or telemedicine due to costs.

The problem not only lies with clients, with data also indicates that some employers could make greater efforts to ensure their staff feel valued. Over a third (36 percent) of veterinary professionals say that they do not feel safe when it comes to exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, and a fifth (20 percent) say that their practice management has not listened to their concerns during this time.

Lizzie Erian Round, Head Veterinary Consultant at Pegasus describes: “While the battle against COVID-19 is far from over; for some it feels like a race to get back to normality or at least the ‘next normal’. We set out to understand how the veterinary profession is navigating the easing of lockdown restrictions and what trends are emerging. With such varied experiences across the profession, it’s interesting to see some strong themes emerge.

While mental health has always been a concern within the industry, the current situation exacerbates this with the addition of financial concerns, job security and strains on client relationships the survey has revealed.”

62 percent are worried about increased mental strain in relation to their work and more than a quarter (27 percent) said that they are worried about managing client relationships and expectations during the COVID-19 crisis.

Broken connection with clients

In the recent absence of face-to-face contact, veterinary professionals have found it a struggle to communicate effectively with their clients, with four in 10 (39 percent) finding communicating the options to clients for the purchase of veterinary medicines a challenge. However, around seven in 10 (71 percent) agree that COVID-19 has changed the way they communicate with clients and this will continue in the future. Social media platforms, such as Facebook have been the channel that veterinary professionals have relied on during the COVID-19 pandemic, more so than phone calls or even email communication.

Time for a flexible change

On a positive note, the COVID-19 crisis has allowed vets to reassess their work-life balance with flexible hours gaining more momentum for the profession during this time. Almost two-thirds (66 percent) have said that they want an improved work/life balance to be a legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than half (51 percent) desiring flexible working patterns and opportunities to job share. More free time, has meant more time for continued learning with more than half (55 percent) of the respondents saying they have been able to spend more time online reading and engaging with veterinary content, such as online CPD.

A reluctance to change?

Over and above current challenges, veterinary professionals believe that COVID-19 is going to have lasting consequences for the way they practice and how owners interact with their pets. However, whilst the veterinary industry has seen rapid transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems there is some reluctance for change. Although almost half (49 percent) of vets surveyed are using new digital tools at work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, less than a fifth (17 percent) think that the disruption was needed into order to drive digital transformation, suggesting some reluctance to the changes that have occurred.

Richard Casey, President of The Veterinary Management Group (VMG) comments: “With or without COVID-19, success in 21st century veterinary practice often requires a different approach to what we may be used to. Pegasus’s survey has shown some very encouraging results. But it is also very worrying that so many of our colleagues do not feel safe from COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. I encourage all our colleagues, regardless of whether they are management or not, to reach out to workplace colleagues. Ask them how they’re feeling, what are their concerns and what is working well? The same goes for clients. Let’s not assume that because we’re not yet fluent in consulting virtually that the client doesn’t value the flexibility of hearing your expert voice from the comfort of their home. Instead, invite feedback on how your new approaches are landing. What could be done differently? The key to managing anyone’s expectations is always clear communication. Even more so in today’s consumer driven, 24/7 economy. The veterinary practices who come out of COVID-19 well, will likely be the ones who embrace the new normal. They’ll have listened to their team and clients needs, and found ways to meet them.”

Lizzie adds: “From the research is seems that vets would like flexible working, but there is some reluctance to adopting the technology that supports them in doing this. The nature of veterinary practice is clearly changing; the question is how do we best support veterinary professionals through this change? And, importantly, how can we ensure they feel valued? When it comes to developing marketing communications, we should be asking ourselves what strategies we could implement today that will help achieve this now and in the future.”

Pegasus is offering animal health marketing teams a free 45-minute Zoom meeting to present the full findings of the research and the standout themes, which the Zoom meeting and full report cover in more depth.

For the full results or to book a presentation with the team, get in touch at