The Cost of High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets

Veterinary recruiters face an uphill battle in retaining qualified veterinarians, and the impact of high turnover extends beyond the staffing challenges. In this blog, we delve into the statistical landscape of veterinary turnover, exploring the common reasons behind it and the financial repercussions for veterinary practices. Moreover, we provide actionable strategies based on industry insights to help veterinary recruiters and practice owners mitigate turnover and foster a thriving work environment.

The Landscape of Veterinary Turnover

A. Statistical Insights

According to Brakke Consulting’s 2022 Veterinary Wellbeing Study, a significant portion of veterinary technicians expresses a likelihood of leaving practice in the next two years. The study highlights the urgency of addressing the underlying causes of turnover.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

B. Common Reasons for Veterinary Turnover

Drawing insights from LifeLearn Animal Health’s survey and AVMA findings, we identify five key reasons for turnover:

  1. Underutilization: Vet techs often leave when relegated to tasks beneath their training.
  2. Low Pay: Despite a 25% increase in average vet tech salaries, many still struggle to make a living wage.
  3. Feeling Unappreciated: Perception of undervaluation and unappreciation contributes to dissatisfaction.
  4. Stressful Work Environment: Negative workplace elements, such as micromanagement and lack of trust, lead to burnout.
  5. Burnout: Veterinary staff experiences disproportionate burnout, causing a median average loss of $59,000 annually for practices.
High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

C. Financial Impact of Turnover

Research from Frontiers in Veterinary Science underscores the financial impact, emphasizing the median loss of $59,000 due to veterinary technician turnover caused by burnout. On a positive note, a survey by Today’s Veterinary Practice suggests that 46% of vet techs would consider returning if their concerns were addressed.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

Strategies to Retain Veterinary Talent

A. Let Veterinary Technicians Operate at the Top of Their License

Dr. Phil Zeltzman’s insights, advocate for a paradigm shift in the delegation of veterinary medical tasks. By allowing vet techs to operate at the top of their license, a workplace can support both retention and improved practice efficiency.

B. Foster Open Conversations

Chantal Faraudo (CVT, CVPP) emphasizes the importance of open, honest conversations. These conversations not only convey the value placed on the autonomy of credentialed techs but also serve as a catalyst for improved practice operations by tapping into the insightful perspectives of the entire team.

C. Educating Pet Owners about Vet Tech Qualifications

Pet owners often underestimate the training and skills possessed by veterinary technicians. To bolster client satisfaction and loyalty, practices can leverage communication channels to inform clients about the qualifications and expertise of their vet techs, as suggested by the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.

D. Empower Vet Techs in Client Education

Dr. Stacy Bartholomew highlights the untapped potential of vet techs in providing client education. By allowing vet techs to share their knowledge, practices can enhance the client experience and alleviate the pressure on veterinarians, leading to a more balanced and efficient workflow.

E. Encourage Growth Ideas

Melissa Murray’s experience echoes the sentiment of many veterinary technicians. Encouraging and implementing growth ideas creates an environment where staff can learn and grow, fostering a sense of purpose and encouraging staff to remain dedicated to their roles.

Preventing Vet Tech Turnover: Best Practices

A. Competitive Compensation

Ensuring competitive compensation is fundamental to retaining veterinary talent. While a living wage is a prerequisite, this section explores the significance of non-economic incentives, such as flexible schedules and a supportive culture, in enhancing job satisfaction.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

B. Addressing Burnout

The pervasive issue of burnout is addressed through practical tips that prioritize work-life balance. Encouraging the utilization of resources, such as mental health counselors, for coping with compassion fatigue is a proactive step in mitigating burnout.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

C. Cultivating a Healthy Clinic Culture

Leadership plays a pivotal role in cultivating a healthy workplace culture. By modeling behaviors that reflect respect, effective communication, and accountability, practice leaders can foster an environment that retains employees and ensures better patient outcomes.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

D. Encouraging Professional Growth

Providing avenues for professional growth is vital for employee motivation and engagement. This section explores the importance of offering opportunities for skills development, attendance at industry conferences, and pathways for promotion to retain valuable veterinary talent.

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

Assessing Turnover: Calculating and Benchmarking

A. The Cost of Turnover

Understanding the financial implications of turnover is crucial for veterinary practices. According to the Center for American Progress, turnover costs can amount to 20% of each employee’s annual salary, reaching up to an average of $10,000 to replace a single staff member earning less than $50,000. This financial burden includes recruitment, hiring, and training expenses, making it imperative for practices to assess and mitigate turnover costs.

B. Calculating Annual Team Turnover

To gain a deeper understanding of the turnover dynamics, practices should undertake a comprehensive analysis of their annual team turnover. By reviewing records and determining the total number of separations over the previous year, both voluntary and involuntary, practices can calculate the average number of employees during that time. Dividing the total number of staff separations by the average number of employees and multiplying by 100 provides a percentage that represents the annual turnover rate. This quantifiable metric serves as a foundational benchmark for evaluating the health of the practice.

C. Benchmarking Against Industry Standards

Benchmarking is a crucial step in assessing turnover. Drawing on industry standards, practices can gauge their turnover rates against benchmarks such as those provided by AAHA’s Compensation and Benefits data. This data, derived from over 600 practices, places the average veterinary team turnover at 23% per year. By comparing their turnover rates to industry benchmarks, practices can identify whether their turnover rates are above or below the average and pinpoint areas for improvement.

D. Setting Practice-Specific Turnover Rate Goals

While industry benchmarks provide a valuable reference point, practices should also consider setting practice-specific turnover rate goals. Aimed at achieving a turnover rate of 23% per year or less, these goals should align with the unique dynamics and needs of each practice. Establishing clear and realistic targets helps practices track their progress over time and guides efforts to implement effective retention strategies tailored to their specific circumstances.

Gathering Feedback for Improvement

High Veterinary Turnover and Strategies to Retain Vets - Best Veterinary Recruitment Agency USA - Pulivarthi Group

A. Implementing Exit Interviews

Exit interviews serve as a cornerstone for gathering feedback from departing employees. These interviews provide a structured and confidential platform for employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and experiences before leaving the organization. Questions can be tailored to explore various aspects, including work environment satisfaction, leadership effectiveness, and opportunities for growth. The goal is to create an open dialogue that encourages departing employees to express themselves freely, providing the practice with valuable qualitative data.

B. Integrating Feedback Mechanisms into Routine Practices

Beyond formal exit interviews, practices should incorporate feedback mechanisms into their routine operations. Creating a culture that values continuous feedback fosters an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions. This can include regular check-ins, anonymous surveys, or suggestion boxes. By making feedback collection an ongoing practice, veterinary clinics can identify emerging issues early on and address them proactively, rather than waiting until employees decide to leave.

C. Understanding Motivations and Concerns

The feedback gathered should aim to delve into the motivations and concerns of employees. What factors contributed to their decision to leave? Did they feel adequately supported in their roles? Were there specific issues related to workplace culture, management, or compensation? Understanding the nuances of individual experiences allows practices to tailor their retention strategies, addressing root causes rather than surface-level symptoms.

D. Creating Action Plans Based on Feedback

Gathering feedback is only valuable if it leads to actionable insights and tangible improvements. Practices should establish clear protocols for analyzing feedback data and creating action plans. This might involve cross-functional teams dedicated to reviewing feedback, identifying recurring themes, and developing targeted interventions. The goal is not just to gather data but to translate it into meaningful changes that enhance the overall employee experience and reduce turnover.

E. Fostering a Culture of Continuous Improvement

The process of gathering feedback should be part of a broader commitment to continuous improvement. Practices should communicate to their teams that feedback is not only welcomed but actively sought as a tool for growth. Creating a culture that values and acts upon employee input contributes to a dynamic and responsive workplace environment. When employees see that their feedback leads to positive changes, it reinforces a sense of agency and belonging, promoting long-term engagement.


In conclusion, this comprehensive exploration unveils the hidden costs of veterinary turnover and provides a robust set of strategies to empower veterinary recruiters and practice owners. By addressing the root causes and implementing effective retention strategies, practices can create an environment that not only reduces turnover but also enhances efficiency, staff satisfaction, and the overall success of the veterinary clinic.

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