The Crisis in Veterinary Care

Dr. Jeanne Ficociello examines a patient at VCA South Shore Animal Hospital.

October 12, 2021 by Ally Donnelly

Millions of people joyfully welcomed new pets into their home last year. But the surge of new clients is stressing an already stressed system. Veterinarians offices are struggling to keep up with the flood of cases, pushing pet owners to hunt down appointments at other offices and animal hospitals.

Some practices say their volume has skyrocketed by as much as 25 percent. Staff shortages, staff burnout and some pet owners taking out their frustrations on veterinary staff are taking a toll. “It’s like being a workhorse,” said Lenore Walker, a former referral coordinator for the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital. “And you’re just continuously being beaten down every day.”

VCA Veterinarian Dr. Jeanne Ficociello says she understands staff burnout. “After 18 months of living in this absolutely bizarre upside down world, we get (clients’) frustration, but just remember you’re dealing with a profession that has already had a lot of mental health issues.” Dr. Meg Whalen, chief medical officer at MSPCA-Angell Medical Center agreed saying, ""I think, realistically, we have to call it a crisis. As an emergency doctor, we don't like to use that term lightly. But the influx of patients is not going away."

In today's episode we explore the systemic problems compounded by the pandemic, including veterinarian suicide, and ways pet owners can try to ease the strain on veterinarians and staff. Join us!

Lenore Walker retired early, burnt out from a job she once loved.

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