New Year New Roo: Finding Job Satisfaction in Vet Med

Ross Zimmerman
January 2, 2024

Why do we do what we do? Yes, I fully realize that’s a pretty existential question to hit you with right out of the gate in the new year, but hey, worth a check-in every now and again, right? It’s abundantly obvious vet med is an industry driven by passion: specifically your passion for helping others, for healing animals, and sure, a passion for speaking to things that are cute and fluffy in widdle iddy biddy baby voice. But with so much of the job dedicated to the wellbeing of others, it’s important we take a beat to consider if we ourselves are finding satisfaction in our work. And that answer should be yes. 

This isn’t selfish. A lot of techs and vets find satisfaction simply through the act of helping others — humans or pets, take your pick. However, there’s also a lot veterinary professionals are up against: high rates of burnout, student debt, and techs living paycheck to paycheck. It’s really important that you’re happy too. So what can we do to ensure we’re able to carry out our passions and find happiness in our careers?

Happiness is where the animal hospital is

The average person spends more time at work than any other activity in their life, so it makes sense that job satisfaction has a huge impact on happiness. A study by the Canadian Veterinary Journal found 15 factors that are considered fundamental to happiness in the workplace (and Canadians seem to know a thing or two about happiness, just ask the friendly moose on their money): 

  1. Positive contact with other people [who you work with]
  2. Supportive and considerate supervision [who your managers are]
  3. The freedom to voice ideas and be heard
  4. A sense of involvement in change
  5. Recognition of achievements
  6. The belief that you are doing something worthwhile [we’re literally healing cute fluffy things here, so big check
  7. A reasonably clear role
  8. Some personal control - discretion and decision latitude [freedom and flexibility]
  9. Variety in tasks, skills, or location 
  10. The opportunity to use and acquire personal skills [CE anyone?]
  11. A manageable workload and goals [work-life balance]
  12. Equity - shared expectations, fairness, absence of discrimination
  13. A sense of job security
  14. Safe and comfortable surroundings
  15. Doing a job that is valued by the organization and society [again, big check, the world desperately needs you healing the cute fluffy things]

No matter how or where you practice, these are benchmarks to have on your radar for because your happiness matters. Some of these items are well within your control while others may or may not be. Management and the culture of how a particular practice is run can play a huge role here too. 

The AVAM’s Economic State of the Profession Report from 2023 suggests, “Practice owners can promote a healthy work environment through gestures such as offering flexible work hours, supporting designated break times during work, and encouraging employees to use their sick and vacation leave (and other benefits) when needed.” 

The AVMA also encourages non-owner veterinarians to choose a practice that supports their mental well-being and a healthy work-life balance. However, your solution doesn’t necessarily need to be where you practice, it could be HOW you practice. 

Relief veterinarians have the highest job satisfaction rate after practice owners

Roo’s real impact on the veterinary industry can be seen in how happy relief vets find themselves when self-assessed. As part of the AVMA’s Economic State of the Profession report, they ran a survey to measure job satisfaction, which found relief veterinarians have the second highest overall job satisfaction rate after Practice Owners at 76%. That’s pretty good considering associate veterinarians find themselves more than 10% lower at only 64% job satisfaction.

AVMA Economic State of the Profession Report 2023 - Satisfaction Rate by Job Position
AVMA Report on the Economic State of the Veterinary Profession 2023

Relief veterinarians have highest lifestyle satisfaction rate

I mean, this one was kind of a gimme, but we do like to see numbers backing it up. Relief vets were found to be the most satisfied with their lifestyle, even beating out practice owners! This has to be because relief veterinarians have complete control over their careers. They  literally get to define their own lifestyle however works best for them. Sure, practice managers have a lot of control over what their lifestyle looks like, but not this much control.  

As a relief professional, you own your work-life balance, which puts your happiness in your hands. 

Roo takes this level of freedom one step further with no minimum shift requirements pushing you to work when you don’t want to and no monthly fees to stay on our platform so you can take time off whenever you want without penalties (we really hope you took advantage of this over the holidays). 

In a lot of ways, Roo relief vets and techs have similar autonomy to practice owners. They have complete control over where they work, when they work, and who they work with. They even control how much they work and what kind of work they do. That’s a lot of control, and it equates to a lot of happiness. We know this because the AVMA actually measured it (at least as well as you can measure something as subjective as happiness). 

The relief professional happiness advantage  

Let’s look back at those 15 factors for job happiness and satisfaction brought to us by our Canadian friends. As a relief professional: 

  • You get to choose who you work with (#1 — Positive contact with other people).
  • You’re your own boss (#2 — supportive and considerate supervision as long as you’re kind to yourself. Please be kind to yourself).
  • You’re in complete control of your career (#8 — Some personal control? How about complete personal control!)
  • Variety is the spice of life, and with relief work, you can mix it up to the max practicing at different hospitals and even across specialties like emergency or shelter medicine. Or become a travel vet and practice in another state entirely — can you imagine what those job satisfaction numbers would look like?! (#9 — Variety in tasks, skills, or location)
  • You’ll probably learn new things just from experiencing different perspectives and seeing how different hospitals practice (#10 - the opportunity to use and acquire personal skills).
  • You’ll also be able to offer a new perspectives and be a source of change to any new practice you work at by offering a very diverse breadth of experience (#4 - A sense of involvement in change)
  • Only you decide how much you want to work, and with Roo, you can take as much time off as you want, whenever you want (#11 - a manageable workload and goals)

Happiness may be subjective, but that’s a “BINGO” on our card. 

Your happiness is why we do what we do

Roo was built by and continues to be led by an incredible team of veterinarians, technicians, and practice managers whose sole mission is to change the veterinary profession for the better. This starts with giving you tools to take control of your own happiness. 

You can’t put a number on happiness, but the AVMA has done their best. We see it as a measure of the success of our ultimate mission, and we’re thrilled to see these high job satisfaction rates among relief vets across the relief industry. It means what we’re doing is having the impact we want: making veterinarians and technicians happier.   

Turns out, putting you in charge of your own career checks a lot of those happiness boxes. And we’re happy for you. 

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