How Can Employers and Practice Owners Foster a Well Work Climate?

By Dr. Joseph Hahn, Executive Director, U.S. Companion Animal and Equine Professional Services

Having a healthy approach to dealing with stress is mission critical for clinics, as is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Addressing stress can also positively impact staff retention. Clinics should consider:

  1. Acknowledge wellbeing and encourage team members to talk about mental health. According to the wellbeing study, among respondents who reported needing psychological treatment over the past year, the majority felt that they couldn’t get it (59% of veterinarians and 65% of staff). Starting open and candid conversations with your employees implies to them that it’s okay to address mental health challenges and reassures them that you’re there to support them.

  2. Provide resources in the form of health insurance or an Employee Assistance Program that covers mental health treatment. The wellbeing study showed that 38% of veterinarians did not know if their health insurance covered mental health treatment. Not every employee is going to proactively ask about their benefits, so it’s important to communicate these benefits clearly whether it’s via email, in-person meetings or a poster in the break room.  This is something small that every employer can do that can have a huge impact on the climate in the clinic.

  3. Instill work values that foster a healthy practice climate. There are four elements that make up a good veterinary practice climate, including: a strong sense of belonging; a high degree of trust; open communication; and sufficient time to provide quality care. Our study shows that there is nothing more important that an employed can do to decrease burnout and increase wellbeing. 

The AVMA has created a wealth of resources designed to assist in creating a culture of wellbeing, including 100 Healthy Tips for both individuals and organizations with practical suggestions to support healthful living at work and at home. If you or someone you care for could benefit from veterinary wellbeing resources, visit