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How to be more efficient with fewer veterinary practice staff

By MWI Animal Health

Strategies to boost productivity, morale, and loyalty

Asian American male veterinarian uses stethoscope on white dog

Thanks to the pandemic "puppy boom," practices are busier than ever these days with both new and existing clients. In spite of that, many practices are facing workforce shortages. Veterinary technicians have one of the highest turnover rates in healthcare, and the average turnover for veterinarians is twice as high as it is for physicians.1

Along with busier practices, workforce shortages, and high turnover rates, the pandemic has decreased veterinary practice productivity. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), veterinarians' average productivity decreased by nearly 25 percent from 2019 to 2020.1 All of these factors have resulted in veterinary professionals experiencing greater stress and anxiety, which lead to a higher risk of burnout, an increasingly common problem in every healthcare profession.

As a veterinary practice owner, what can you do to make your practice more efficient and help ease the burden these challenges are creating, especially when your staff isn't operating at full strength?

Play to your team's strengths

The AVMA notes that more efficient practices are more likely to utilize their veterinary technicians' entire skill sets than less efficient practices.2 If you're not sure how to make the most of your technicians, try asking them directly. What do they do best? What skills or training do they have that they aren't using? Is there anything they're asked to do that doesn't require their training? Using your technicians to their full ability will not only improve efficiency but increase their job satisfaction as well.

Give non-medical tasks such as cleaning examination rooms, scheduling appointments, answering phones, and other office work to non-clinical staff. This frees up your clinical staff to focus on the work they're trained to do. Get your team's input on which tasks they enjoy the most, where their strongest areas lie, and where their passions lie.

Create a culture of support

It's clear how important a healthy workplace is to staff well-being. A stressful work environment may lead to health issues such as heart disease and even death. Stressed employees are also less engaged in their work and less loyal, resulting in increased turnover.3

Cultivating a supportive, positive team culture can make a huge impact on both your staff's stress levels and their loyalty to your practice. Here are some ways to foster this kind of environment.

  • Remember that as a leader, you can significantly impact your staff's well-being. Find resources if you need help sharpening your leadership skills.
  • Regularly make a point to talk to each team member individually.
  • Consider having a designated room where your team can go when they need a few minutes to recharge. Furnish it with energizing and stress-relieving items such as comfortable chairs, water, tissues, and snacks.
  • Make sure your team is aware of support resources specifically for veterinary professionals such as Not One More Vet (NOMV) and NOMV Support Staff (NOMVSS). BetterHelp and these two groups have teamed up to give veterinary professionals a free month of online counseling.
  • Encourage your team to use mindfulness and meditation apps to help them relax, cope with stress, and sleep better. Popular paid options include Calm and Headspace, which both have plans you can purchase for your entire team. There are also free apps to try, including Smiling Mind, Insight Timer, MyLife Mediation, Healthy Minds Program, and UCLA Mindful.4

Invest in technology

Choosing tools that meet your practice's needs and increase your efficiency is a game changer. The technology you use has a huge impact on everything from your clients to your team to your revenue stream. The right tools increase client retention, engagement, and compliance and streamline processes for your staff, resulting in happier clients, happier staff members, and hopefully, happier veterinary practice owners.

  • Telehealth: Tools such as online triage, consulting, communication, and remote monitoring let you expand your practice's reach and meet your clients' needs. You can see more patients in the same amount of time, and telehealth reduces the amount of back and forth between your team and clients. Staff then have more time to focus on the clients and patients who are in the clinic.
  • Digital curbside check-in: No more clients crowding in your waiting room. This tool lets them check in from their mobile device instead. You instantly get your patient's complete medical history and updated information, freeing your phone lines and saving time.
  • Client engagement platform: These tools offer multiple solutions that are customizable to fit your practice's needs. Leveraging these solutions maximizes your practice's productivity and efficiency by utilizing technology to help you meet your goals. Less time spent on scheduling, communication, and decision-making means more time for work-life balance. Options include:
  • Automation and management of your client communications via email, text, or postcards
  • A retention calendar to schedule appointments and keep client information updated
  • A patient portal for clients to access information, request appointments and refills, and update information
  • Analytics to make data-driven decisions and pinpoint opportunities and insights in your practice
  • A client loyalty reward program

There are some tremendous obstacles facing veterinary practices. Taking a proactive, hands-on approach to mitigating them will help increase your practice's productivity, improve your team's well-being and stress levels, and keep your staff engaged and motivated.


  1.  Salois, Matthew, and Gail Golab. "Are we in a veterinary workforce crisis?" American Veterinary Medical Association. 25 August 2021. Accessed 28 February 2022. Available online at
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association. "Utilizing veterinary technicians to improve practice success." Accessed 28 February 2022. Available online at
  3.  Seppälä, Emma, and Kim Cameron. "Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive." Harvard Business Review. 1 December 2015. Accessed 28 February 2022. Available online at
  4.  Newman, Kira M., and Janet Ho. "Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention." Mindful. 12 March 2021. Accessed 28 February 2022. Available online at



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