Veterinary wellbeing: New research shows teams lack self-belief, negatively impacting wellbeing

Veterinary wellbeing is a big issue, with long work hours, four times more likely to commit suicide, and high turnover rates.

Recent research by Engage Coach International demonstrates psychological mindset is key to how those in veterinary practice experience stress. Developing mindset has positive benefits related to wellbeing, retention and practice profitability.

Engage analysed 12 veterinary practices (518 employees) who were winners or Highly Commended in the 2016 SPVS Wellbeing Award, run in partnership with RCVS Mind Matters Initiative. The results were presented on the 26th January at SPVS/VMG Congress 2018.

Findings show that compared with similar analyses of other sectors, those employed within veterinary practices (receptionists, vets, nurses etc.) have less self-belief, are less confident in wider social settings and are quite cynical about the benefits of development.

The vets who responded scored lower on self-belief (increasing the likelihood of experiencing stress), prefer to work in smaller familiar surroundings, are less open to feedback and new ways of doing things, have a more rigid approach to work, are less inclined to put in discretionary effort and generally feel less successful than other industries.

The overall result is a less confident, open or engaged workforce when compared to other sectors, with a detrimental effect on wellbeing.

Dr Jodi O’Dell, Engage’s founder, commented “The Engage data shows that developing a more confident, open and motivated mindset is key to veterinary practice wellbeing. This is an important consideration for those wanting to improve wellbeing, retention and profitability.”

Other differences

Other findings in the Engage analysis reveal differences between genders, job roles, and stages of life. Female vets score lower for self-belief than their male counter parts but score higher on empathy. The wider support teams report higher levels of confidence, appear more open to change, and show higher levels of motivation and commitment, than vets and nurses.  Vet nurses score the lowest for confidence. Interestingly, vets appear to experience a ‘mid-life’ crisis where levels of confidence, openness and impact reduce considerably.

At a practice level, the Engage data provides a unique insight into how mindset drives wellbeing. For example, the large business category winner scores higher on every Engage scale than their counterparts. Their employees feel more confident, are more open to change and show higher levels of commitment and motivation. The result is higher levels of wellbeing, less employees leaving and increased profitability.

Mark Bateman, Engage CEO, said “The Engage data shows the importance of mindset at a practice level. By focussing on employee wellbeing, practices can expect to lose less employees and increase profitability. Many practices are now working with us to overcome their own challenges.”

Creating an effective veterinary wellbeing strategy requires a holistic approach.  One which addresses the environmental factors which contribute to stress, in parallel to building resilience so staff develop internal coping strategies to deal with the growing demands of the job.

To download the Veterinary Wellbeing Benchmark Report, visit

Engage is an evidence based development toolset originally developed by Dr Jodi O’Dell, an Occupational Psychologist of over 20 years with a PhD in Coaching Psychology. Engage has been used in over 300 organisations to support wellbeing, change, leadership development, talent development and coaching programmes.

For more information please visit, email or call +44 20 3393 2499.


(C) Engage Coach International Ltd 2018, all rights reserved.