Date of Project
College of Arts and Sciences
The Mayo Clinic describes burnout as a specific type of stress that involves a state of physical or emotional exhaustion. This exhaustion can lead to a lowered sense of accomplishment and negative personal identity. Despite burnout not being an actual diagnosis, many researchers believe there are several mental health components that contribute to burnout, such as depression and anxiety. Several factors are known to contribute to specifically work-related burnout, including lack of control, work-life imbalance, lack of social support, and extremes of the activity. All of the above factors relate to the veterinary field. In one study, 6.8% of male veterinarians and 10.9% of females were under severe psychological distress based on the Kessler-6 psychological distress scale. Compared to the rest of the population, veterinarians are under almost double the amount of severe psychological stress. Despite the staggering statistics, not much information is currently known about the post-pandemic burnout among veterinary professionals. During the pandemic, it has been estimated that 78% of pet owners acquired their pet. With this rapid increase in pet owners, there has been a dramatic increase in the need for veterinary care. It can be assumed that with more work, there will be higher burnout rates among veterinary clinics.
For this project, a survey analyzing burnout, using the Copenhagen Burnout Index (CBI), was sent out to veterinary professionals across the country. The questionnaire was mainly derived from the work-related burnout questions from the CBI and additional supplementary questions, such as tenure and gender. In addition, 2 open-ended questions were added to get commentary from these professionals as to what they believe is the main cause of burnout in the veterinary field. The results of this study are both quantitative and qualitative. In the quantitative sense, there was a trend seen in tenure and burnout. It was derived that the highest rate of burnout was between years 2-8 with a drop off after 8 years in the veterinary field. Overall, tenure can predict burnout, with more tenure equally higher burnout. F(5, 141) = 2.53, p < 0.05. It was also shown that the average distribution of scores in the current sample is towards the upper limits of burnout. In regard to qualitative results, the main commentary from respondents revolved around client expectations and workload. A common sentiment was that the contrast between client expectations and the cost of service was a main stressor for many professionals. Along with this, the stress was seen to expedited by the long hours worked by these professional. Many cited long work days with no breaks as being a high contributor to their stress. Overall, the burnout of veterinary professionals is something that must be taken seriously. Any pet owner or animal lover knows how important the veterinary community is for both client’s mental health and the wellbeing of animals. The time to act and to bring attention to this issue is now, especially with pet ownership on the rise. The final sentiment is best left in the words of one of the respondents: “Overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, undervalued. “
Eckstein, Hannah, "The Mental Health Epidemic in Veterinary Medicine: An Analysis of Burnout in the Veterinary Field" (2023). Undergraduate Theses. 119.