Summary of Findings

There’s a very wide range of views on Covid

There are some members who react negatively to the mention of Covid – for them it is a thing of the past. However nearly 50% of respondents are taking some kind of COVID precautionary measures, with some reporting continuing outbreaks. Very few still use curbside check-in, but it is very common for animal hospitals to require masks for clients and/or staff. Staff attendance does not appear to be significantly reduced due to COVID.

There is an acute shortage of veterinarians and staff to meet the current level of demand

Most hospitals report staff shortages and it is very common to turn away clients because there is not enough capacity. Usually this is done even though other nearby hospitals do not have enough capacity to take on those cases either. Hospitals typically identify this as a staff shortage and find it almost impossible to fill vacancies to bring the hospital back up to the level of staffing from a few years ago. Many also identify that many veterinarians are now unwilling to work the long hours that were expected in the past. So to handle the same number of cases, there are now more veterinarians needed on staff.

The individual comments made paint a more vivid picture of the shortages than the rating scales. Many veterinarians talk of their frustrations, of burnout, of the fear of being in an unsustainable situation. Some mention the hostility of clients who are frustrated by the lack of availability of services.

Thank you for those who made suggestions, we will be following up with you privately.

There is still time for you to take the survey yourself if you haven’t already – look for the email we sent.




Click for detailed comments

“We restrict client access into clinic by using parking lot as “waiting room”. Clients call when they arrive, we bring them in (masking is their choice). Staff wear masks if they feel off. Staff gets tested regularly. “

“We only allow the number of pet families that we have exam rooms”

“Unvaccinated clients must wear masks. Masks are optional for vaccinated clients.”

“Only one client in the exam room at a time except euthanasias”

“We admit 1 client at a time so the waiting room is not occupied – masks are not required. Clients notify us when they arrive and then we admit them one at a time as exam rooms open.”

“We admit one client per patient. Masks are not required. Staff is to let us know if they are covid positive. Any employees in close contact with covid positive need to mask for 10 days”

“No masks. But since we are a “walk in” we call clients in from their cars when we are ready to see them.”

“screen for covid exposure”‘

“When employees are sick they must test to return to work. “

“Tech appointments and med picks ups curbside. One person per visit”

“We have clients call in and wait in cars until an exam room available, then escort directly to room. One client per pet.”

“One vaccinated client with patient and must be masked!”

“Admit clients only when room is available, all check out in room or from car. Screen all clients with COVID quesitons. Masks optional.”

“We give staff and clients the option to have masks on while in the clinic. We do not have any mask requirements. Clients are allowed to enter the clinic and we take the history in the waiting area. We then take the pet into the exam room without the client. Sometimes, we do the physcial exam in the waiting area with the client present.”

“We ask clients to stay home or do curbside if they are showing COVID symptoms but we don’t require it. We just don’t think highly of them if they don’t wish to help protect us and keep our hospital running.”

“Masks optional. Do not allow covid positive staff or clients in the building.”

“As a house call vet, I and my help continue to wear masks on client premises”

“We request clients wear masks but it is not required. Staff interacting with clients are asked to mask but may not need to in other areas. Testing is up to the individual now.”

“Allow one client in at a time maintaining social distancing.”

“We have a hybrid schedule of days curbside and days in person while wearing masks “

“We allow clients in the lobby but will do examination in the treatment area”

“We do a curbside check-in to regulate how many people are in the waiting room at a time, but allow one client in with each appointment. Masks are currently optional. Any staff who is exposed to COVID is required to mask for 5 days post exposure. COVID vaccination is mandatory for staff.”

“Limiting number of people in building by having owners call when they arrive then allow one person in with the pet”

“Clients in lobby/not in exam rooms. Masks recommended for staff and clients alike. ALL staff must be UTD on vaccine and booster.”

“Clients wait outside to be called in with their pets and go directly into the exam room. No more waiting in waiting room. We do not have univerals masks at this point but staff are continuing to get sick and get others in the practice sick. Myself as a veterinary colleague still wears her mask and requires assistants to wear masks who are helping me with patients . I have heard from so many clients that their previous vet couldn’t accept them when they needed to come in. so we have many new clients but the staff is VERY stressed and burnt out. “

0 – No staff vaccinated        5 – All staff vaccinated

0 – No impact      5 – Highly disruptive

0 – Low stress      5 – Extremely stressed

0 – No open positions    5 – Desperate to find staff

0 – Never    5 – All the time

0 – Yes always    5 – Never

Click for General Comments about issues covered in the survey

We try to allow only one client to accompany a pet but do make exceptions for clients who need assistance, euthanasia appointments etc. We only require staff and clients to wear masks in examination rooms (enclosed area, multiple people in close proximity around a patient).

Staff shortage of veterinarians. Other staff ok

I feel the public (specifically new prospective client) has become vindictive, argumentative and feels entitled to free Veterinary care.  They mostly have neglected their pet(s) and now are somewhat desperate and do not want to follow protocol as my small business dictates.  People tend to project their neglect/guilt on me in the form of an undeserving NEGATIVE REVIEW!

We have COVID in the staff now and have 3 of 12 people out on Covid protocol ( tested positive). I also have been looking for an associate vet for 4 years. We stopped taking new clients 2 years ago. This should be a 3 vet practice and have 1 vet/owner scheduled 54 hours per week for the past 4 years.  This is not sustainable long term.

Lack of staff and time prevent us from servicing our clients. The local specialty centers have been turning away cases as well, stating staff shortages of vets.

We have heard that the large corps are approaching students when doing internships of guaranteed employment if they do their internship with them.  Promising them big money & this leaves the little guys out.  If NYS could offer more help in getting a vet for upstate rural NY, it would be great.  Lots of recruiting offers but who can afford 1.000 per day for a relief vet??  Any help would be great – thanks for doing this survey.

Are veterinary schools really graduating new veterinarians each year?

My constant complaint- we need more veterinarians. I’ve been looking for an associate for 4 years.  I’m on Long Island where there is a large population.  I can only imagine what it is like in less populated areas. Clients complain when they can’t get in and I am already doing 10 minute appointments.  I see 35-40 appointments 5 days a week!

A new pet peeve- my son is in vet school and they are talking to students about 30 minute appointments.  Ridiculous.  15 is plenty.  20 is generous, but if you are only doing 2 appointments an hour I will have to pay you half wages.  Veterinary prices are getting out of hand.  We need a good salary as we put long years into education, but $9,000 bills for splenectomies are unreasonable. Average household income on Long Island is $120 K.  People can’t spend 7.5% of their pre-tax household income on one hospitalization.

relaxing NYS license requirements (reciprocity) may help with vet shortage

Another emergency specialty hospital have cut their weekend hours and do not receive emergencies on weekends.  We are now overrun on the weekends with the same amount of staff as before they closed.  The burnout of techs and doctors is higher than ever

We could easily see more patients if I could find another veterinarian.  Also, there have been many times when we have tried to send a pet to an ER only to find they are closed to incoming.  As a general practice, solo practitioner, I can’t handle some of the severe emergencies ( difficulty breathing, etc). Unfortunately, I have ideas on how to find more ER vets or veterinarians in general, not to mention staff.

There are too many new clinics and not enough licensed staff in NY.  Perhaps NYSVMA should look into the Licenses of DVMs and Technicians in these places.

staff shortages prohibit taking on any new clients

Our crisis continues.  I need another  vet and techs desperately.

We are trying not to turn anyone away as other hospitals are and there are not very many alternatives but there are days where we cannot get them all in.

We are trying to hire a third veterinarian but have gotten no responses to our advertising.  We just got up to three LVTs.  Trouble finding LVTs, too.

We rarely turn clients in good standing away. If we do need to turn them away, we help find someplace for them to go. We don’t accept new clients, however. We are turning them away almost daily.

We experienced high turnover of support staff in the past 2 years and have been unable to hire a third technician to help with our 3 veterinarian practice. And 2 of those veterinarians are approaching retirement age.

There is a severe shortage of veterinarians willing to do after hours/emergency care.

I think everyone needs to drop this covid narrative and stop using it as an excuse. Staff morale is down but not b/c of covid. Corporate practices work people to near death and there are never enough staff hired- this is the reason for high staff turnover and high amount of absences. The vaccines do not work and it is ridiculous to be wearing masks b/c they also do absolutely nothing for covid prevention. Masks actually cause other respiratory problems that normally would not be a factor; people have an immune system for a reason.

Most Vets in my area aren’t taking new clients or patients due to lack of Vets and Techs. Vets who can see their patients can’t get them in for a month or more.

Our “walk in” works well for those with issues that aren’t serious but need to be addressed right away (UTI, URI, Ear Infection,  etc) but we are often at capacity by 10 a.m.

It’s time to get over Covid. Those in our staff who have not been vaccinated have already had the virus and recovered well. Even our vaccinated staff have gotten Covid, took time off, recovered and returned to work.

Any of our staffing shortages have nothing to do with Covid but with millennials who are afraid to work too hard.

No one wants to work on Saturdays anymore so it is harder to find appointment slots for clients who work full-time jobs.

We have trouble hiring and retaining support staff, especially assistants and receptionists

We are still curbside only with a limit of 2 masked clients for euthanasia. The staff and the clients are tired of the restrictions but the owner is older and doesn’t want to let restrictions lapse. It’s frustrating.

We are short staffed. We need another full time veterinarian (or two), as well as receptionist, assistant, and technician. This is not the result of Covid, though it has exacerbated the situation.

We are severely understaffed for vets.  As a profession we need to explore a mid-level practitioner role.

Shortages across the board for all staff. Clients all seem more demanding and less understanding. Burnout is still very real. Food and drug shortages are not helping.

This practice is house call only. limited hours-3 days a week- and by masking entire time and asking clients to mask until CDC recently said no need, we have not been affected by Covid.

I do know a practice in my area that went with no masks a few months ago.  They are now back to all employees in masks after 7 of them got COVID.

Are we still required to take temperatures before (and during) work? (No)

It is VERY difficult to hire licensed staff.  I don’t know any practice owner that’s not looking.  This has nothing to do with COVID (I don’t think).  But employees are quick to be dissatisfied or overwhelmed, and know they are empowered (not just my experience).  The perks and marketing tools used by corporate/VC-backed practices to woo potential employees – like ridiculous, previously-unheard-of signing bonuses – are unfair and ruin the market for everyone else.  I thought all practices in NY had to be owned by a veterinarian??

I had previously e-mailed the NYSVMS regarding a possible Zoom-related session to better discuss the emergency coverage shortages central and northern NY is facing with the partial closure of VMC of CNY on weekends.  The clinic that I work at is 1 of only 4 local clinics in Jefferson County that does rotational ER work after normal business hours, and we cannot sustain an influx of additional nonclients either.  It would be nice to have a discussion amongst all surrounding veterinary offices to determine how we can tackle this issue.

We are having clients wear masks in the rooms. The staff is overwhelmed and burnt out, we have no new technicians coming in. We have a technician externship and have had very few applicants since 2019.

The fact the techs, and other support staff are STILL so underpaid. Having us do “extras” during covid, like going to the cars, cashing ppl out, etc; with NO additional pay led ppl to realize how foolish it is, when we can go to mcdonalds and start at 21/hr. I’ve been a tech for 25 years, and regret it. I cannot support myself. I did relief work during covid, and was still paid under 20 bucks an hour. Poor vets, stop playing the fiddles for yourselves, when we have been screwed. Thanks for a lifetime of nothing.

We see emergency for our own clients.  It would be nice if more hospitals did that.

Covid is over, stop the insanity, I have totally lost respect for your organization because of it all

Haven’t been able to find a tech in AGES

I was lucky to find a new grad I had mentored bc there were no vets available. I have a very loyal staff and so I am very lucky to not have any turnover.

Like several other 24 hour facilities nearby, out 24 hour emergency hospital was forced to close overnights due to our overnight veterinarians no longer willing to work that shift. FInding overnight veterinarians to replace them is like searching for unicorns. with none found, we have been forced to change our model to an urgent care model. It kills us to no be able to hospitalize the sick cases we used to. Also finding surgeons to cut emergency cases at other nearby 24 hour facilities has been frustrating!

The practice that I am doing relief work at has several clinics. Each clinic has one veterinarian. They seem to have adequate support staff (LVTs and receptionists), but not enough veterinarians. If a DVM is out sick (due to Covid or something else), that clinic can only do some basic tech appointments. There are long wait times for routine surgeries. The practice does not offer any emergency service and clients must drive 1.5-3 hours for emergency care. Clients are unhappy and the practice personnel are frustrated. The practice could use another 2-3 full time veterinarians.

We were hit very hard by the pandemic. We are still having issues finding licensed nurses. Covid still exists in NYC, but milder cases. We require all employees be vaccinated. We all wear masks. We could use one more veterinarian. The are 3 new corporate practice that have opened up in our area and 2 corporate practices that bought out private practices. These corporations are unethical and literally are always trying to steal employees. It is really sad what is happening in the industry. It maybe more challenging for private practice to exist. I still love what I due and hope to maintain our private practice on the upper westside of Manhattan.

In regards to turning cases away. We do not turn any new patients away, but we are booking out by 2-3 weeks. If it is a same day emergency, we reserve spots every day for that. Once those spots are filled we resort to “”drop-off”” appts to try to accommodate. Thereafter, we defer to emergency hospitals or advise the client to call 8 am the following morning to get into one of our reserved emergency spots (if Pt is not critical of course).”

The corporate owned practice is very understaffed. This leads to longer workdays and overtime. The veterinarian needs to do a part of technician’s work

Clients are generally understanding. There are many who are rude and abusive when we can not immediately accommodate them. Now with the local emergency hospital closing on the weekend we anticipate the worst.
Another issue with veterinarian and vet tech shortages is that the corporate hospitals and large emergency centers are scooping up all of the available workers, using sign on bonuses as incentive and making it difficult for small hospitals to maintain staffing.

Shortage on Doctor’s is what is impacting the hospital the most.

Prior to the new guidelines regarding exposure we had quite a few unvaccinated staff members out constantly. Currently we are not having as many issues with absence

As I write this, I am again at home with one of my young children – I had to call in sick b/c my kid is sick – the third time in the last 3 weeks. First COVID, then other respiratory viruses, which are all spreading like crazy (especially among kids) now that all the COVID mitigation measures are being lifted / ignored. We are already overwhelmingly busy at work, and my repeated absence is only making things worse. This results in heavier workload and more upset clients, more patients turned away, which then further increases my level of stress and burnout. I have been considering leaving clinical practice because of this. On the other hand, I want to do my part to help the profession – it’s just increasingly difficult for my mental health to do so.

Went from 49 employees pre-paid to 17. Have worked at clinic 30 years and no one applying for any jobs. As a veterinarian I can work but no support staff, receptionist or kennel. “As for Covid restrictions, the are lifted totally. The only remaining hold over is that we have clients wait in their cars instead of the waiting room. This will most likely stay forever, not for infectious disease prevention but for ease of handling patients, species separation and overall client comfort.

It has been extremely difficult to hire new help. Very limited applicants, the ones that do apply are woefully under qualified. The veteran staff I have are leaving for ER or Corporate hospitals paying $35 to 40 per hour. pre-pandemic my LVTs were very happy to be in the $22-27 per hour range.

I do believe stress is playing a role in everyone’s lives at this point. Staff is overused and burning out. Docs are looking for more pay and less hours. Clients are very often short tempered and willing to go down to the next clinic if we can not accommodate them immediately. Pricing is becoming any issue as well with all suppliers increasing costs mid year, staffing wages needing to be hire to retain able bodies, as well as giving them a living wage to afford to drive to work and eat at the end of the day!

I am confident that we will get through this, our profession and society have made it through tougher times. I do think that it will require some radical thinking to find the “”out of the box”” solution. Three or four day work weeks, higher pay for key staff and unfortunately for clients higher vet bills. Maybe pushing them more towards insurance?

Unsustainable pace moving forward particularly with one of our local ER closed during week and limited access on weekend, the other local ER often doesn’t have surgeon on staff for evening/weekend. Our veterinarians are doing emergency surgeries and having to stay in hospital overnight to attend to these cases. Thus increasing our need for additional veterinarians to cover their daytime office hours. In the past, these cases would have been referred to ER.

Very short staffed with the end in sight,,, seems like not working has become the new norm

We have recently been able to replace some staff, which has relieved some of the stress. Scheduling is still an issue because we are not only trying to accommodate our own clients but all the callers who need care whose vets can’t see them (or are closing entirely). The added stress of not having emergency services readily available anymore (our local 24/7 hospital is often “at capacity” for transfers and now has closed down entirely for weekend care) adds a new level of stress. Clients want our services even more so on Fridays, to avoid issues getting worse over weekend, or we get slammed on Mondays, when all the issues that arose over the weekend didn’t get addressed. We try to not overbook our schedule but also do not want to turn away patients in need, so we find ourselves admitting drop off patients that we work up “in between” regularly scheduled appointments or surgeries. We could more staff, as we are putting in very long days and one or two additional people to allow overlaps or shift work would be nice. It is difficult to hire assistants at the wages we can afford to pay when many places are attracting employees with higher wages, more benefits, and easier work. Wages aren’t my place to discuss (I’m not the owner) but I feel if we improve the wages and benefits of the good employees we already have, they would have better morale and would be more tolerant of the occasional long day or busy schedule. I also feel like we could work smarter, not harder, and improve our efficiency in many ways, but it is difficult to do so when we are bombarded by things from every side. In between appointments and surgeries, we also deal with what I like to call the “pink slip parade”, stacks of files with messages attached, drug refills, questions, problems, issues, confusion over next steps in the plan, or recurrence of problems with no appointments to offer. We are often doing consults by phone and email to provide quick answers to problems we are already familiar with.

Agree that young vets want fewer hours.

Tough times, we could do so much more with more available staffing. We have under charged for our excellent services and underpaid vet staff for years. The shortage of LVT’s has been a big issue for years, now it is a true crisis. I wish for our leaders to find better ways to approve/educate/certify individuals and help rec reasonable wages. As a profession we need to UP the wages to attract quality staff and individuals. And in order to do that we all need to UP our prices, and that seems to be an impossible feat for many vet practices.

I personally wear a mask whenever in rooms with clients or in common areas in the hospital. One other veterinarian in our practice does as well. Two of our vets have been out on covid leave in the past month.

Its definitely less overwhelming this year compared with last, but we have a high volume of urgent care patients that we usually do try to squeeze in, often working through the lunch hour to accommodate. It’s often rewarding to be able to help these patients and clients express appreciation, but we try to be aware of staff burnout and new clients may be referred to other hospitals, but often find no one to see them.

We will probably close our doors.

I work part time in general practice and in shelter medicine. The need for veterinary professionals is staggering. We have owners and shelters seeking their pets to be examined, vaccinated, spayed/neutered and no one to help.
My shelter runs vaccine clinics. In the past, vet clinics would be upset by the perceived competition. Since we began our clinics over 2 years ago, we have veterinary clinics refer to us on a regular basis because they know they cannot see the animals in a timely fashion. They do not want cases of parvo to walk through their doors.

Our vaccine clinics serve about 300 pets per month and the need does not seem to be slowing down.

We veterinarians need each other more than ever and also need all the help we can get.