Why Veterinarians Are Suffering a Career Crisis

Clinician's Brief

ArticleSeptember 20233 min read
image source

Introduction: The Evolving Landscape of Veterinary Care

Clinician’s Brief recently surveyed nearly 1,000 general practitioners to better understand how veterinarians grapple with the ever-changing landscape of animal care. With 63% of respondents reporting having thought about leaving clinical veterinary medicine, the results of this survey demand the attention of leaders in the field. Below, leaders from Merck Animal Health, Mars Veterinary Health, and the National Academies of Practice discuss these survey findings with Dr. Indu Mani, Chief Scientific Officer. Follow along as we dive into these eye-opening insights from across the industry.

Key Findings

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • Challenges to Patient Care: The most significant challenge reported by respondents is staffing shortages, with 56% identifying it as the primary obstacle to providing adequate patient care.

  • Attrition Concerns: A concerning 63% of respondents have contemplated leaving clinical veterinary medicine, with 27% stating frequent thoughts about it.

  • Strategies to Reduce Attrition: To mitigate attrition, respondents suggested legal standards (50%) and robust education about veterinary practice challenges (43%) as effective measures.

  • Optimism about the Profession: Respondents expressed optimism due to increased investment in companion animal care (53%) and growing attention to animal welfare (43%).

  • Telehealth Adoption: Telehealth usage remains relatively low, with only 16% of respondents practicing telehealth/telemedicine.

Pulse Check With Bob Murtaugh, DVM, MS

"We need to… address the challenges and issues."

Dr. Bob Murtaugh, Chair, Veterinary Medicine, National Academies of Practice, is interviewed by Dr. Indu Mani about the current veterinary workforce challenges as found in the Clinician's Brief survey.


  • On how to increase the pipeline of new veterinary talent. (3:54)

  • Remembering and emphasizing the positive aspects of the profession. (6:54)

  • On improving access to care for more pet owners. (9:00)

  • Why telehealth could be beneficial for veterinarians and patients. (16:46)

Pulse Check With Joseph Hahn, DVM

"We need to listen to the newer generation of veterinarians."

Dr. Joseph Hahn, Executive Director, US Companion Animal and Equine Professional Services at Merck Animal Health, shares his perspective.


  • Why a practice's culture matters. (2:00)

  • How artificial intelligence can impact veterinary medicine. (7:40)

  • On the importance of training for new practitioners. (13:00)

Pulse Check With Molly McAllister, DVM, MPH

"This veterinary shortage is a reality that we have to tackle together."

Dr. Molly McAllister, Chief Medical Officer of Mars Veterinary Health, shares her thoughts on the findings and the state of the industry.


  • Understanding the true impacts of the talent shortage in veterinary medicine. (1:40)

  • The importance of the entire veterinary team. (3:25)

  • On lowering the barriers to entry in the profession. (9:43)


The survey results highlight the urgent need to address staffing shortages and attrition concerns within the veterinary profession. Implementing more consistent workplace standards and offering robust education and support can play a pivotal role. In addition, there is optimism that increased investment in companion animal care presents opportunities for growth and advancement. Exploring telehealth options may also provide avenues for improving patient care and operational efficiency.


In your opinion, what impact does attrition have on the quality of veterinary care provided to animals and the community as a whole? Are there steps that could be taken to address attrition?