Predictors of Professional Quality of Life in Veterinary Professionals

J Vet Med Educ. 2021 Jun 8;e20200144. doi: 10.3138/jvme-2020-0144. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Working in the veterinary profession can be both stressful and rewarding. High workloads, long work hours, emotionally charged interactions with clients, and exposure to animal suffering and participation in euthanasia place many at risk of compassion fatigue, which then threatens their professional quality of life (ProQOL). Despite this risk, many veterinary professionals choose to stay within the profession. This study explores personal and organizational factors predicting compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout, and secondary traumatic stress (STS) in veterinary professionals, and the extent to which these aspects of ProQOL are linked with intentions to leave the profession. Regression results show that personal factors accounted for 31.1% of the variance in CS, 45.3% in burnout, and 33.8% in STS. Organizational factors significantly accounted for 33.3% of the variance in CS, 47.9% in burnout, and 32.7% in STS. Together, ProQOL accounted for 28.9% and 16.0% of the variance in intentions to leave one's current role and to leave the profession altogether, respectively. These results suggest that both personal and organizational factors play a role in veterinary professionals' ProQOL and highlight the importance of promoting CS and managing burnout and STS for the purpose of fostering veterinary staff well-being and retention.

Keywords: burnout; compassion fatigue; mental health; secondary trauma; veterinarians; veterinary nurses; well-being.