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Tips for Attracting & Retaining Top Veterinary Talent in 2024

Tips for Attracting & Retaining Top Veterinary Talent in 2024

If you’ve tried to hire veterinary staff in the last year, then you know all too well that competition for top talent is fierce. Everyone seems to be hiring right now, making it tough to hang onto your staff—assuming you’re able to find them in the first place. 

But as we all know, hiring and retaining top veterinary talent is one of the driving factors helping your practice stand out in this increasingly competitive industry. As the industry keeps changing, we have to hire the best and make sure they’re happy to stay.

Consider this article your quick guide to attracting and retaining top veterinary talent in 2024. We dove into some insights from our 2023 study, “The State of Emergency and Specialty Veterinary Care,” to find out what you can do to bring in and hold onto your best talent.

Understanding the Landscape of Veterinary Hiring in 2024

Before we get into our recommendations, let’s take a quick look at what we know about the landscape of hiring in veterinary medicine right now. 

We entered 2024 with pervasive staffing shortages and concerning mental health challenges among staff. In our 2023 study, 86% of emergency and specialty hospitals reported staffing shortages as their top challenge of 2023, alongside 83% of staff reporting mental health challenges. Providing real, meaningful solutions to support mental wellness—beyond recommendations for self-care—are pivotal this year. (More on that later.)

With increasing demand and widespread shortages of veterinary talent (83% of respondents to our survey reported a shortage in qualified candidates), it’s clear it’s an employee market across veterinary care. Veterinary professionals are changing jobs more frequently, knowing that salaries and benefits are climbing, relief work is offering competitive compensation and lifestyle, and better work–life balance is possible.

In this evolving landscape, comprehensive training and holistic wellbeing initiatives have emerged as pivotal in retaining talent and fostering a resilient veterinary workforce in 2024.

Strategies to Attract Veterinary Talent

Want the best minds on your team? Here's the inside scoop on how to reel them in.

Build a unified culture

First off, culture is king. Building a healthy, consistent, and unified hospital culture helps you outperform your competition and attract those star performers you’re seeking. Take a look at your current culture and ask yourself (and your staff) the following questions:

  • Do we have specific opportunities for staff members to learn?
  • How are we helping staff grow in knowledge and responsibility? 
  • How are we recognizing our staff in meaningful ways?
  • How are we contributing to the wellbeing of our staff?

Related Article: A CLEAR Blueprint to Workplace Wellbeing: How Not One More Vet helps veterinary hospitals build a sustainable culture of wellness

Invest in technology

Technology is a showstopper for attracting new talent. Integrating cutting-edge tools and platforms like digital treatment sheets, cloud-based PIMs/EMRs, and client communication platforms can be a magnet for tech-savvy talent seeking an efficient, modern workplace where they won’t get bogged down in paper workflows or complicated software. 

Prioritize continuous education and training

Perhaps mostly importantly, invest in continuous education and training for all of your staff. Provide a variety of avenues for your team to stay current, from conferences and online courses to workshops and clinical reference tools, and ensure they have time to take advantage of these opportunities. 

Keys to Retaining Veterinary Staff

Now, let’s assume you’ve staffed your hospital with the team of your dreams. Superstars everywhere. Here's how you encourage them to stick around.

More than anything else, our survey found that team expansion, technology-related investments, and time off for mental health and wellness have the strongest correlation with higher employee morale and retention rates.

Expand your team

With the rise in patient volumes and staffing shortages compounding the problem, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that staff want … well, more staff.

The majority of respondents to our survey expressed that hiring more nurses/technicians (71%) and investing in better training processes (66%) would be the most impactful actions to improve their productivity today.

Keep building your team! It’s crucial for hanging onto the team you already have.

Prioritize staff wellbeing

Veterinary medicine is a challenging, draining profession that often demands every ounce of our emotional, physical, and mental energy. And as a profession, we’re not well known for exceptional work-life balance. But our research shows that’s exactly what teams need.

Time off for mental health or wellness days, in particular, significantly impacts staff retention. Review your benefits package and consider incorporating specific mental health and wellness days. Encourage your team to use these days without hesitation to prioritize their mental wellbeing. Most importantly, promote a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns and taking time off when they need it.

Make a point of celebrating your team

Give credit where it’s due! Showcase your appreciation for staff who think creatively to solve problems and streamline workflows. Whether through monetary incentives, awards, or public acknowledgment, celebrating their successes motivates them to continue pushing boundaries and inspires others to follow suit. 

Like anything else, there’s no magic bullet for attracting and retaining top veterinary talent. We're all playing the long game this year, as we implement comprehensive strategies that combine innovation, tech-savvy investments, and a supportive practice culture.