Veterinary Staff Retention | VETport
AI in veterinary medicine
Published: 26 October 2023

How is Veterinary Staff Retention impacting your practice? Why it's important?

Why do veterinary practices have a significantly higher turnover rate compared to the average in other industries?

The answer may be too complicated to boil down to tangible factors.

What are the most important reasons behind staff turnover?

In the bustling world of veterinary clinics, a silent struggle often plays out behind the scenes—veterinary staff retention. According to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) With the industry turnover rate soaring at 21% and according to a study on LinkedIn stated that in the US and 9-13% globally , clinics, both big and small, are experiencing stressful conditions. Long hours and intense stress create a breeding ground for burnout and dissatisfaction among veterinary professionals.

But why is this matter of staff retention so crucial, you ask? The answer lies in the ripple effect these high turnover rates cause within a clinic’s walls. Operations are disrupted, and the quality of care often takes a hit when experienced hands depart. New employees take time to acclimate, leading to reduced productivity and an increased cost of hiring.

Join us as we delve deeper into the critical issue of veterinary staff retention, exploring strategies to fortify the foundations of veterinary practices. We shall also touch on its root causes, the impact of vet staff turnover on the clinic, and other aspects.

Exploring the Root Causes

Veterinary staff retention is a significant concern—however, while implementing strategies for staff retention, you must understand what’s actually causing it. Among the many reasons, burnout and stress, multi-role expectations, compensation disparities, and other contributing elements could be the primary factors. Let’s break each down for you in detail:

Burnout and Stress:

Needless to say, veterinary professionals dedicate long hours and emotionally-charged situations when catering to animals. Sometimes, this emotional toll can be too much, leading to burnout and job dissatisfaction. The weight of their responsibility, combined with the empathy they extend, makes managing burnout an ongoing challenge in this domain.

Multi-Role Expectations:

Veterinary staff members are expected to perform multiple tasks seamlessly—thus, they’re constantly struggling with maintaining a balance between patient care, customer service, and the demands of administrative work. This multi-role expectation can be overwhelming for smaller practices operating with limited staff, requiring a level of versatility that tests their resilience.

Compensation Disparities:

While their dedication knows no bounds, veterinary professionals often face a stark reality: compensation disparities. Despite their extensive education and training, they are frequently undervalued, especially compared to counterparts in other healthcare professions. This financial gap creates a challenging landscape, which is another reason why vet staff turnover occurs. making it arduous to attract and, more importantly, retain the qualified staff essential for providing top-notch care.

The Financial Impact of Employee Turnover

While implementing strategies for staff retention, you must understand the financial impact of employee turnover. High turnover rates directly influence finances, encompassing not only the overt expenses of recruitment and training, but also other hidden costs like lost productivity and damage to the practice’s reputation.

Calculating Turnover Costs

The cost of turnover can be calculated using the following formula: Turnover cost = (annual salary + benefits) * Turnover rate. For example, if a vet clinic has a turnover rate of 10% and an average annual salary and benefits of $50,000, the cost of vet staff turnover would be $25,000 per employee.

The Hidden Costs: Training and Interviewing

Amidst the standard costs, other hidden costs impact employee turnover. Training typically amounts to one-third of the new employee's annual wage. Simultaneously, the interviewing process exacts its toll—job postings, resume screenings, and interviews incur additional expenses.

Impact of Veterinary Staff Turnover on Practice

The impact of vet staff turnover on practices can result in several notable effects, including:

Impact on Appointment Scheduling:

When veterinary staff leave, it causes a shortage of staff members to attend to patients. High vet staff turnover often translates to longer waiting times and difficulty securing appointments. The once-smooth process now results in delays, impacting patient-practice interactions.

Quality of Patient Care:

Veterinary staff turnover can affect patient care. New employees need time to learn patient demands and the clinic’s policies, which results in a stressful and chaotic workplace, lowering the quality of patient care.

The strain on employee morale:

High turnover rates might also cause a strain on employee morale. Seeing coworkers go might make employees feel unappreciated and unsupported. Low productivity and work unhappiness can result.

The Importance of Employee Retention

When veterinary practices are able to retain their staff, it is called employee retention. This process holds a lot of importance, and here’s why:

Why Veterinary Staff Retention Matters:

Staff retention is an extensively vital process, as it is directly proportional to your practice’s success. When you have low staff retention, it eventually leads to decreased patient care, productivity, and reputation.

Longevity of Your Practice:

If you want to run your business in the long run, you must have higher veterinary staff retention. This is because experienced staff members are more likely to deliver high-quality patient care, which boosts your practice’s reputation and revenue. A veterinary practice with a high personnel retention rate can minimize the expenses and inconveniences of recruiting and training new hires.

Creating a Competitive Edge:

If you want to survive in this competitive market as a veterinary business, you’ve got to create a competitive edge for yourself. You can achieve this by building a strong, motivated team of highly skilled and experienced professional employees. This can only happen when you have a higher vet staff turnover rate.

How to Calculate Veterinary Staff Turnover Rate

In order to calculate your veterinary staff turnover rate, you must gather the following data:

  • The overall number of practice employees who left last year.
  • Your average staff turnover level last year.

Once you have this data at hand, calculate your turnover rate using this formula: Total number of departing employees / Average number of employees * 100% = turnover rate.

For instance, the turnover rate would be 33.3% if 10 staff left your practice in the past year and you averaged 30. Turnover rates vary by veterinary practice size and type. High turnover rates are usually 20% or greater.


Veterinary practices of all sizes must retain workers, as higher turnover rates can lower care quality, productivity, expenses, and morale. Today's competitive veterinary market demands strategic investment in employee retention. By providing competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, avenues for professional growth, fostering a positive work environment, and offering flexible work arrangements, practices can attract and retain top talent.

The key to success in any veterinary practice lies in its ability to retain dedicated employees. Boosting morale and productivity, staff retention not only benefits the practice but also enriches the experience for patients and clients alike. It's more than just a strategy; it's the heartbeat of a thriving, compassionate practice.

Recap Key Takeaways:

  • Any veterinary practice's ability to retain its workforce is critical to its success.
  • Increased employee retention rates can have detrimental effects on patient care quality, productivity, expenses, and morale.
  • By providing competitive pay and benefits, chances for professional growth, a nice work atmosphere, and flexible work schedules, veterinary practices can increase employee retention.

Want to try VETport for FREE?


No Credit Card Required

FREE Telemedicine App till Covid Crisis

Access to VETport PMS Email Course

Related Articles

1. One simple way to find the clients who, you are on the verge of losing...(And 2 ways to bring them back to your vet practice)

2. 4 Highly Effective Tactics to Market Your Clinic (& Double the Number of Your Clients In Less Than 12 Months)

3. The Ultimate Communication Tool During the Pandemic - Part I

4. Improve Client Communication for your Veterinary Clinic with SMSe

5. 8 Reasons to Send Postcards to the Clients of Your Veterinary Clinic

Streamline your practice with VETport

Sign up Now!!!

  I have read, understood and agree to the Terms of Service & Privacy Policy