Less than half of veterinary professionals feel their profession is appreciated

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  • World Veterinary Day 2024 celebrates the essential work of veterinarians, yet new data show only 49% of veterinary professionals believe their profession is appreciated.
  • Veterinary associations and Boehringer Ingelheim unite to help address this issue—starting with showcasing often-unseen aspects of the veterinary profession.

The World Veterinary Association’s theme for World Veterinary Day this year (April 27, 2024) highlights that veterinarians are essential health workers. Without veterinarians, food safety cannot be guaranteed, animals suffer needlessly, and humans face a higher risk of exposure to dangerous infectious diseases. Yet access to veterinary care should not be taken for granted as many veterinarians are currently considering leaving their chosen career, most often due to reasons associated with work-life balance and their mental health.1

Today Boehringer Ingelheim released findings from a survey of 1056 companion animal, livestock, and equine veterinarians in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, and Germany, to explore if veterinarians feel valued and understood by animal owners. A main finding of the study is that only 49% of veterinarians feel that the veterinary profession in general is appreciated.

“Understanding the reasons why veterinarians feel their profession is underappreciated, raising awareness of often-unseen and complex aspects of veterinary work, and most importantly, showing veterinary professionals that we recognize their essential work, is an important first step,” remarks Fabio Paganini, Member of the Global Animal Health Executive Committee at Boehringer Ingelheim. “As a veterinarian myself, I know that there is so much to love about this job. Together, we can showcase the relentless dedication, the genuine compassion, and the scientific know-how it takes to work as a veterinarian. It truly is a vocation to aspire to.”

Perceived levels of appreciation for the veterinary profession were relatively consistent across key types of veterinary teams — with only 48% of pet-focused (cats and dogs), 55% of livestock and 42% of equine veterinary professionals reporting that their profession was appreciated. This is despite 75% of survey respondents reporting feeling personally appreciated by their client base.

“We should not stand quietly as our colleagues leave the ring due to stress and burnout,” remarked Dr Ellen Van Nierop, President at World Small Animal Veterinary Association. “Veterinarians are exceptional professionals, who play an essential role in directly maintaining and improving the health and well-being of animals and indirectly, of the whole society. It is imperative that we shine a light on the often-unseen care and effort veterinarians put into forging a healthy and happy society.”

Digging deeper: what underpins appreciation levels?
Veterinary professionals believe their personal clients appreciate their “level of expertise” (reported by 66% of veterinarians surveyed), the “ability to deal with ethical dilemmas (including euthanasia)” (61% of veterinarians) and the fact “they provide a large variety of care” (57% of veterinarians). However, the survey also revealed that clients don’t always have full awareness of how far veterinarians push themselves to provide care. Of all participants, 49% felt they were underappreciated by clients when it came to understanding the “resilience to stress and emotional exhaustion” required from the job, with 48% reporting an underappreciation of the fact they “work despite feeling physically exhausted” and the way they “trade-off their work-life-balance to help animals”.

What needs to be done?
All survey respondents were asked to state a key aspect of their profession that they wish people knew more about. The most common responses from pet-focused participants were “our compassion and dedication to animal welfare i.e. not money” and “our commitment to being a veterinarian and the difficulties of the role”. Similarly, the most common response from both livestock and equine veterinary professionals was the “importance, competence and value of the profession”.

Boehringer Ingelheim, together with the Word Small Animal Vet Association (WSAVA) and the World Association for Buiatrics, plus other leading organizations, are united to help veterinarians — starting with showcasing veterinary professionals’ compassion and dedication to animal welfare, while shedding light on the often-unseen complex and difficult aspects of care.  

“By celebrating the essential behind-the-scenes work veterinarians do, we can help them feel seen and appreciated so that they hopefully retain their passion for animal care for as long as possible,” shared Prof. Arcangelo Gentile, President of the World Association for Buiatrics. “World Veterinary Day 2024 (April 27) serves as the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of what really happens behind the clinic, farm and stable doors.” Countless young people are dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. We want them to understand the beautiful, complex, raw, fascinating, and touching reality behind the dream. And we want them to know how rich a life lived as a veterinarian can be.

Going Beyond 2024 survey (implemented by Kynetec, on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim)
“We’re proud to have partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim on this project. Working together, we were able to provide significant insight that we believe will lead to increased understanding of the care that veterinarians provide and make their essential professional engagement widely recognized in the public,” commented Dr. Jan Bahlmann, Kynetec’s Head of Animal Health Customer Insights (Europe).

Top-line survey design
The survey was conducted from mid to end of March 2024 across 1056 veterinarians in Brazil (212), Japan (201), United Kingdom (170), France (162), United States (160) and Germany (151). The survey scope included companion animal (57%), equine (5%), dairy (10%), beef (8%), swine (6%) and poultry (3%) specialist veterinarians as well as mixed practices without a main focus (11%). Computer-assisted web as well as telephone interviews in local language were used to collect the data.

Going Beyond campaign
Going Beyond is a campaign developed by Boehringer Ingelheim with support from industry partners and veterinary associations to raise awareness of, and celebrate, the essential behind-the-scenes care that veterinarians provide for animals and communities worldwide. This care, which often goes unseen by animal owners, can leave veterinarians feeling underappreciated, contributing to poor mental health. Launching around World Veterinary Day 2024, Going Beyond aims to tackle this issue head-on by showcasing the boundless dedication, resilience and passion of veterinarians who care for animals in often challenging circumstances. The ultimate goal is to help veterinarians feel seen, appreciated and motivated to continue doing what they do best – caring for our beloved animals.

Kynetec
Kynetec is a global provider of data, analytics and insights in agriculture, animal health and nutrition. We empower agribusinesses and animal health and nutrition companies to make data-driven decisions, from strategy to execution, through predictive analytics and advanced insights. What sets us apart is our direct access to the markets we serve – farmers, veterinarians, pet owners, and agricultural experts – and our deep understanding of the complex dynamics that shape those markets. We regularly undertake data and analytics projects in all the major agricultural and animal health/nutrition markets, spanning more than 80 countries, to provide the insights that enable our clients to build winning strategies and brands. Kynetec’s responsibilities in this campaign work included empirical research co-design, survey execution and analytics.

Boehringer Ingelheim – Animal Health business
Boehringer Ingelheim provides innovation for preventing and treating diseases in animals. The company offers a wide range of vaccines, parasite-control products, and medicines for pets, horses, and livestock to veterinarians, animal owners, farmers, and governments. As a leader in animal health, Boehringer Ingelheim values that the health of humans and animals is deeply connected and strives to make a difference for people, animals, and society. Learn more at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/animal-health.

Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer Ingelheim is a biopharmaceutical company active in both human and animal health. As one of the industry’s top investors in research and development, the company focuses on developing innovative therapies that can improve and extend lives in areas of high unmet medical need. Independent since its foundation in 1885, Boehringer takes a long-term perspective, embedding sustainability along the entire value chain. More than 53,500 employees serve over 130 markets to build a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable tomorrow. Learn more at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com

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1 Nolen RS., AVMA. Practice Inefficiencies Compound Veterinary Stress. (2021). Available at: https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-12-01/practice-inefficiencies-compound-veterinary-stress Last accessed April 2024.

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