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March issue /2022

WHY DO RECENT VETERINARIAN GRADUATES FEEL UNHAPPY?
HOW CAN WE HELP THEM?

Is there a more beautiful profession than being the doctors who take care of the animals, who show us nothing but gratitude at all times?

Becoming a veterinary doctor is a dream of the vast majority of children.
How not to love animals? Wonderful beings, endowed with a unique capacity for unconditional love.

So, at what point does this dream become a nightmare? Why do veterinary doctors feel increasingly unhappy, especially recent graduates?

According to AVMA, millennials make up the largest proportion of veterinarians and the recent graduates are part of this generation. The current veterinary population falls into the following age groups, and this generational shift brings significant change, particularly in what motivates recent graduated veterinarians and makes them feel fulfilled and happy:
o Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996): 35.1%
o Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980): 34.6%
o Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): 29.9%
o Silents (born between 1928 and 1945): 0.4%

The current generation of millennial veterinarian are overachievers who desire or need instant gratification!

Although they do not feel prepared to practice the profession, and have an extreme fear of failure, this generation has very high expectations of the profession.
Millennials are not used to long-term planning, become impatient without immediate reward for their efforts, and feel frustrated when they do not have clear goals to work toward.
Intervention and support from more experienced veterinarians are needed in managing the expectations of this new generation in order to decrease the degree of frustration regarding the profession (Zak Ian, DVM 360, 2021).

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), only half of veterinarians graduating in the last 8 years claimed to have their expectations met.

In addition to high expectations, lack of immediate results, lack of recognition and appreciation, and often lack of employer support, new graduates find it extremely difficult to cope with the lack of trust by guardians in their medical decisions, who often refuse to let their animals be evaluated or treated by these newly graduated veterinarians, whom they consider inexperienced.

A study conducted by Reinhard, A. et al. (2021) further demonstrated that American new graduates have tremendous difficulty working with guardians with high financial constraints. They cannot adapt their desire to "help all animals, with all possible resources" to the reality that guardians will not always be able to afford it.

Recent graduates in the U.S. also demonstrate fear/insecurity in making clinical decisions because of the risk of being sued for malpractice by their guardians; they feel a lack of support in clinical decisions from more experienced veterinary colleagues; they feel that most work environments are hostile and toxic; and they feel extreme difficulty in dealing with ethical issues and euthanasia decisions.

Millennials also feel that they are not paid fairly. Generally speaking, a graduate's salary most often does not cover the basic necessities for a healthy and independent life, and in the U.S. little else is left over after paying off the loans taken out to get their degree.

All this contributes to the low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feeling of "not belonging", emotional dependence, lack of self-respect, they do not feel appreciated or do not have a sense of belonging, that characterizes the vast majority of our newly graduated millennials.

So, veterinarians are burning out (or worse) at an alarming rate, partly because the reality of veterinary practice does not match their expectations.

This theory was confirmed by a recent burnout study by Veterinary Integration Solutions (VIS), which revealed that professionals younger than 30 are more vulnerable to burnout; respondents in the younger age group were found to be less enthusiastic and more physically exhausted than their older peers (Zak Ian, DVM 360, 2021)

In 2020, the AVMA stated that only 1/3 of veterinarians recommend the profession, which shows that being a veterinarian is not always synonymous with a life full of joys and successes, as we dreamed of from a young age. In addition, 60% of clinical practices have difficulty maintaining efficient work.

The Veterinary Community of North America, also stated in 2019 that 53% of veterinarians expressed a lack of well-being, 46% felt depressed, and 34% showed intentions to leave the profession. Only 15% of veterinarians said that they felt happy at work.

What can senior veterinarians do to help these new graduates?

- Be patient, as the time to achieve efficiency and quick thinking will be long;
- Make technologies available, such as teleconsulting, to support and help their younger vets;
- Motivation through monthly bonuses (training, financial);
- Remuneration appropriate to the profession, taking into account how hard and exhausting it is to finish a veterinary degree;
- Increase self-confidence and help with conflict management;
- Create a relationship of trust through the introduction and slow transition of new veterinarians with long-time clients;
- Create a support system for new graduates within their own team;
- Provide psychological support to all colleagues in the veterinary team, especially the younger ones who are certainly more sensitive to the more difficult situations that this profession entails;
- And above all, promoting comfortable working environments, without judgment, without criticism, and with a sense of common good, teamwork, companionship, and permanent inter-help.

Be aware of the world around you, including your work environment.

Help those who need help, motivate those who need to be motivated, respect the differences, be aware of those who need help, and notify.

Being a good veterinary professional implies being a good human being, help not only our furry friends, but also the human friend next to you.

We wish all our readers a fabulous March!

Remember always WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

Yours always,

Vetexpertise Team