Stress and burnout top poll of pandemic concerns
A new British Veterinary Association (BVA) survey has revealed that around three quarters of vets are concerned about stress and burnout as a result of COVID-19.
Topping the list of areas of concern relating to the pandemic were concerns around practical vet student training and new veterinary graduate confidence. On the impact of animal health and welfare in the medium term, respondents were most concerned about wildlife and zoo animals.
The findings come six months after the UK was placed under a national lockdown. Some 565 respondents ranked their levels of concern across health and wellbeing, finance and employment, students and new graduates, and animal health and welfare. The leading concerns are:
- stress and burnout in the profession – 74 per cent very or quite concerned
- the provision of extra-mural studies (practical training) for vet students – 72 per cent
- student and new graduate confidence – 67 per cent
- stress and burnout amongst colleagues – 67 per cent
- the impact of a recession on the veterinary sector – 62 per cent
- wildlife and zoo animal health and welfare in the medium term – 62 per cent.
“I’m incredibly proud of the way the profession has adapted to working safely during COVID-19, but we know that it has taken its toll, for example with consults taking longer, needing to cover staff shortages, and dealing with anxious clients.”
The survey found that while veterinary workplaces have adapted to working safely, 42 per cent of veterinary professionals are very or quite concerned about contracting COVID-19. This figure rises to 55 per cent among those in mixed practice and 50 per cent in small animal/exotic practice.
Respondents expressed more concern about stress and burnout in their colleagues (67 per cent very or quite concerned) than the impact on themselves (45 per cent), but more than half (58 per cent) of small animal/exotics vets said they were concerned about their own stress and burnout.
Mr Russell said the findings will be used to inform BVA’s work on supporting the veterinary profession as the pandemic continues:
“BVA also shares the profession’s concerns about the impact on students and new graduates. EMS is the jewel in the crown of UK veterinary teaching and it’s frustrating that opportunities to gain practical training have been hampered by the COVID restrictions. The issue is at the top of our agenda with the RCVS and Vet Schools Council to make sure we can collectively support the next generation of vets through this difficult time.
“As the UK is braced for the second wave, we know we are much better prepared and far more able to work safely to do our bit to tackle the spread of coronavirus. But it’s vital that we continue to support one another, as well as continuing the spirit of collaboration with neighbouring practices that helped us get through the height of the pandemic.
“We are reflecting on all the findings of the survey to make sure BVA is able to continue supporting the profession with all of the challenges of COVID-19 and we’re always keen to hear from members.”