March 2023

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Dr. Felicia Leung, VETgirl Communications Coordinator, talks about how to find relief in the veterinary shortage… with veterinary relief help!

By Dr. Felicia Leung, DVM
VETgirl Communications Coordinator

Finding Relief in the Veterinary Shortage

For several reasons, we are experiencing a veterinarian shortage in the veterinary industry. New veterinary schools have been established in a few states but the benefit of increased veterinarians graduating won’t be realized for at least another 4 or more years. In the meantime, the pandemic caused some veterinarians to consider retirement early and also created a need for pet companionship for more households as many more people shifted to working from home. With owners being home more, they were also able to observe their pets more closely, and identify changes or concerns that sought them to seek more veterinary care. With the rise in the number of pets needing to be seen, veterinary clinics became overbooked routinely and staff started experiencing burnout and compassion fatigue. In addition to that, clinics need to find help during vacations and medical leaves. There has been a shift in the profession to some veterinarians becoming part-time or full-time relief veterinarians which offers more work-life balance and flexibility and control over work hours. Finding new associates or even relief help as a temporary solution has been difficult but here are some resources to find a relief veterinarian for your practice:

Dr. Felicia Leung

  • Veterinary Relief Staffing Services – National services like IndeVets, Roo, Vet IQ Staffing, VetRelief, HolidayVet, etc. will have relief veterinarians on staff with them. Become a hospital partner with them, and they will recruit, vet and retain relief veterinarians for you. Of course, you pay a premium for this service for the convenience of finding and retaining relief veterinary services.
  • Relief Rover – A company founded by veterinarian, Cindy Trice, is not a staffing agency but a customer service focused, subscription-based platform that gives veterinarians and technicians the opportunity to build healthy productive business relationships without the middleman and with no additional fees. Relief veterinarians and technicians can join the service for free and there is a monthly or annual fee for hospitals and practices to join to find these relief veterinarians or technicians.
  • Local Veterinary Medical Association (VMA) or the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – They often have classified ads for relief veterinarians and are a great local and national resource. As an independent contractor, I list myself in my local VMA classified ads and get a lot of interest through that.
  • Word of Mouth – Local drug representatives are a great resource to learn about relief veterinarians. They often have several practices/hospitals in their territories they service and often have great relationships with the veterinarians they work with. Also other practices in your area that utilize relief veterinarians can be a good resource.
  • Professional Networks/Job Sites – Utilizing the database from LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc. can possibly help you find a relief veterinarian.
  • Facebook groups – Social media groups like “Relief Veterinarians” on Facebook is a great resource to connect hospital/practice personnel with independent contract relief veterinarians around the nation. Some relief veterinarians hold multiple state licenses and are willing to travel for relief work. Posting to this page will allow you to reach a network of independent contractors through social media.
  • Google Searches – There’s always good old Google that you can search for relief veterinarians near you. You might have some local or regional Relief Staffing Services near you and most independent contractor relief veterinarians may have their own website advertising their services.
  • E-mail or Drop-in Visits and other relief veterinarians – If you’ve been approached by a relief veterinarian, either via e-mail or personal visit to your clinic, keep their business card on hand as you never know when you may need a relief veterinarian for short-term leave of your employees. Also, many relief veterinarians may be familiar with other relief veterinarians in your area and if they are unavailable, may be able to refer you to one of their colleagues.
  • VETgirl’s job posting/opportunities – Don’t forget about the VETgirl Message Board and their VETgirl Members Only ELITE forum HERE.

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While most relief veterinarians enjoy their independent contractor status or the ability to work at multiple practices rather than solely at one, there are some of those relief veterinarians that may be out looking for their ideal practice. Hiring one may lead to a more permanent position at your clinic. In the meantime, relief veterinarians can definitely fulfill a need at your clinic if you have one!

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