⚖️ Achieving Veterinary Work-Life Balance – It’s Possible!
Veterinary professionals like you are a vital component of not just animal care but also the greater community at large. You play a crucial role in caring for our furry, domestic and wild friends. However, as you know, working in the veterinary industry is challenging, and achieving work-life balance can be an elusive goal. So, we reached out to our community to explore work-life balance in the veterinary industry. We delve into what gets in the way of achieving it and how to overcome those obstacles. Here are our key findings from them, together with their practical solutions…
Long working hours
One of the main reasons that achieving work-life balance in the veterinary industry can be difficult is the long working hours that are often required. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary nurses may be expected to work long shifts, sometimes including overnight or weekend work. This can lead to fatigue, stress, and a lack of time for personal activities.
Prioritizing Self-Care | To overcome this obstacle, you must prioritize self-care. Regular breaks throughout the day, even if only for a few minutes, can help alleviate stress and reduce fatigue. Making time for leisure activities and hobbies outside of work is also essential to help achieve a better balance. But the key takeaway from all the feedback we received was to learn that working smarter, not longer, is the key – easy to say, and it takes discipline to set time boundaries (and yet still be flexible for those genuine emergencies). Taking control of your own time seems to be the foundation for achieving work-life balance.
Working in the veterinary industry is also emotionally challenging. Dealing with sick and injured animals, euthanasia, and unhappy clients can take a significant emotional toll. This can lead to burnout and a lack of work-life balance.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health | This can include seeking colleague support, talking to a therapist or counselor, and engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness. Our profession needs to transform the perception of mental wellness from stigma to acceptance and create solutions so veterinary professionals can survive and thrive. Significant inroads are being made by Not One More Vet, a not-for-profit organization helping the industry come to terms with mental wellness challenges and providing practical, tactical solutions.
High workload and responsibilities
The veterinary industry is also known for having a high workload and significant responsibility. This can include managing multiple cases simultaneously, responding to emergencies, and making life-or-death decisions regularly.
Develop Your Organizational Skills | Learning to prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities can reduce stress and improve work-life balance. Communicating openly with colleagues and supervisors about workload and expectations is also essential.
The veterinary industry can also be financially challenging, with high student loan debts and generally lower salaries than other healthcare professions. This can lead to financial stress and challenge your work-life balance aspirations.
You Need A Financial Plan | Budgets can be uninspiring, but doing these can make the difference between drowning or waving. This can include seeking financial advice, creating a savings plan, and having “that talk” with your practice leadership about salary, benefits, and a more flexible work schedule. The value and fulfillment of working in the veterinary industry are genuinely satisfying, but that in itself doesn’t pay the bills.
Lack of support
You Need A Personal Support Network | Support, or more specifically, the lack thereof, came up as a severe impediment to achieving work-life balance. Unfortunately, this can be across the board, not just from colleagues and managers but also family and friends – who of us hasn’t been cornered by a friend with an unwell puppy or a lethargic cat?
But support rarely appears out of nowhere – you must seek out and build a support network. Proactively seek out mentorship from colleagues, reach out and connect with other professionals in the industry, and develop a personal support network with family and friends outside of work.
Achieving work-life balance in the veterinary industry IS possible but requires a determined effort. By prioritizing self-care, mental health, time management, financial planning, and building a support network, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary nurses like you can overcome the key obstacles that stand in the way of work-life balance.
Your patients, clients, colleagues, and the veterinary industry need you, and you love what you do, even on those more challenging days. There is no easy answer to achieving a genuine work-life balance. And yes, the first step will always be up to you, but you will be pleasantly surprised how quickly things can come into balance…one step at a time…so choose one 🌞