Strategies are needed to help vets cope with work-related stress and such strategies should be delivered in a timely manner, a scoping review of 21 global studies published in the Irish Veterinary Journal has found.
It found that coaching and counselling on communication and conflict management, as well as courses on stress management, may be helpful for vets to better learn how to manage stress.
This would especially be the case after critical deployments, for example complex operations, complicated cases of illness or potential for conflict among animal owners.
“Support services such as counselling centres and mentoring programmes for early career professionals should also be made available,” it concluded.
It also said that further research is necessary, which includes the requirements of emergency and on-call services as additional potential stress factors.
Professional organisations and veterinary schools should provide training on managing work-related anxiety and depression, it added, as well as resilience-building programmes to improve the mental wellbeing of vets and potentially reduce turnover in this profession.
“Several strategies can create a better work environment, improve employee retention and boost morale and wellbeing,” it found.
All of the included studies in the review indicated a high prevalence of psychological stressors in veterinary practice.
Sources of stress identified as psychological stressors in the veterinary profession include work schedules, financial issues, client demands or expectations and ethical dilemmas regarding treatment options.
“The risks of burnout, anxiety and depressive disorders are higher in this occupational group than in the general population and other occupational groups.
“Subjectively, female veterinarians perceive their psychological workload to be higher than that of their male counterparts. Working hours and ethical dilemmas stand out as major sources of stress,” it said.