Is veterinary technician burnout common? You might be asking this question if you’ve come across material about burnout and compassion fatigue inciting physical and emotional exhaustion due to:

  • Chronic workplace stress.
  • Medical errors.
  • Increased training costs from higher turnover.
  • Unsatisfied pet owners.


Still, is it normal to feel this way in the veterinary field? Yes, for veterinary technicians, burnout happens all the time. In fact, the 2022 Veterinarian Wellbeing Study by Merck Animal Health and AVMA reported about 50% of veterinary technicians and support staff experiencing job burnout–that’s one in two vet techs!

Can your practice successfully avoid the economic cost and emotional health risks by learning how to combat burnout? Veterinary medicine is tough at times, but addressing burnout could be your next step in supporting your team. Explore tools like Weave’s all-in-one automation platform and communication solution to ease the load for those experiencing burnout in its early stages, or read on for more tips on managing burnout in veterinary medicine.

The Reality of Burnout in Veterinary Medicine

Are vet techs overworked? If you look at the high rate of burnout for healthcare professionals in the veterinary field, the answer seems obvious. Still, it’s important to note that veterinary burnout is not just a synonym for stress and also goes beyond compassion fatigue.

What is Burnout?

Burnout’s physical or emotional exhaustion accompanies reduced feelings of passion, personal accomplishment, and identity. Veterinary burnout can come from a particular incident, long-term stress, or an overall lack of control. Most often, this leads to anger, job frustration, and exhaustion, which then affects job satisfaction and day-to-day mental health.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion fatigue often causes veterinary nurses or other veterinary staff members to assume extra emotional burdens–ill patients can be heavy to care for. Burnout also makes compassion run dry, making it harder to empathize amidst long hours, secondary traumatic stress, or poor resources.

The Burnout Statistics in the Veterinary Field

Merck Animal Health and AVMA’s Veterinarian Wellbeing Study mentioned above used questionnaires across 2,495 veterinarians and 448 veterinary support staff to calculate burnout prevalence among diverse healthcare providers. Here are the key findings:

  • Over 30% of veterinarians exhibited symptoms of burnout based on the Mayo Clinic Physician’s Burnout Scale.
  • 49.6% of veterinary technicians fell onto the Mayo Clinic Physician’s Burnout Scale.
  • Serious psychological distress levels in veterinary professionals increased from 6.4% in 2019 to 9.7% in 2021.
  • The support staff’s serious psychological distress exceeded that of veterinarians.
  • Younger veterinary industry professionals experienced more serious psychological distress and burnout than older veterinary staff members.


In 2008, a study of over 700 licensed veterinarians revealed diagnoses of clinical depression in over 66% since beginning veterinary school. Another survey of over 11,000 respondents found that over 31% of veterinary practice professionals experienced depressive episodes, 17% thought about committing suicide, and 1% had attempted suicide. Other research showed that female veterinarians experienced more anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than male veterinarians.

Identifying Veterinary Burnout Signs

What does veterinary technician burnout look like? Knowing the signs could help you alleviate the burden for staff at your private practice long before your veterinary team suffers mental health concerns. 

According to the World Health Organization, the primary dimensions of burnout include energy depletion, isolation from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. The main veterinary burnout signs in the order they progress are as follows:

  • A drive to work beyond what’s necessary: Veterinary technicians push past typical responsibilities to pick up shifts or help a particular companion animal in need. A compulsion to work beyond what the job demands destroys work-life balance, beginning veterinary burnout.
  • Attempting to achieve unrealistic goals: Occupational burnout can stem from high-stress environments, which are common in the veterinary business. At this point, many veterinary technicians may set unrealistic demands on themselves to help everyone possible.
  • Self-isolation and neglecting well-being: Professionals like veterinary technologists and technicians may begin withdrawing from their team or the role itself. They might neglect their own values, interests, and passions, and wave off help.
  • Cynicism and decreased professional efficacy: As the drive to achieve mammoth tasks drains veterinary medicine professionals of their emotional and professional energy, they might feel cynicism and decreased professional efficacy. You could see self-reported medical errors and lapses in client communication.
  • Full job detachment: The progression of burnout can lead to extreme isolation and withdrawal. Beyond noticing issues in the workplace, you may begin to see the person showing up late or not at all on some days. Expect the person to procrastinate and to exhibit outbursts at various triggers.
  • Denial of emerging problems: When other staff members approach the burnout sufferer about their well-being, they may deny issues. For example, recent veterinary graduates with high veterinary educational debt may feel that burnout is simply something they must power through.
  • Noticeable health changes: Full-blown burnout can cause physical and mental health symptoms, including sleep disturbances, behavioral changes, depersonalization, headaches, appetite changes, frequent illnesses, irritability, and muscle tension. You may see substance abuse, anxiety, and depression, too.


While the above signs all signify burnout, some employees may show zero signs of burnout while struggling severely. Check in with your team regularly and support them in the ways discussed below.

Factors Contributing to Vet Technician Burnout

As a licensed veterinary technician, burnout might feel unexpected. So, What is the burnout rate for veterinary technicians? What factors affect the average veterinary medicine burnout rates?

Typically, you might see the following factors causing burnout in your veterinary field and beyond:

  • Excess workload: Even the most credentialed veterinary technician only has two hands. When you task an employee with administering medications while handling the phones and clients all at once, stress and overwhelm can accelerate burnout. If your practice is short-staffed and shunting heavy workloads, take caution.
  • Emotional stress: Veterinary and human medicine can make professionals feel emotionally burdened simply from experiences with patients. Being able to draw a line in the sand between work and home can be challenging for role players like vet techs who become emotionally involved in these very important jobs. Remember, burnout happens over time.
  • Lacking resources: Veterinarians and their techs need enough resources to succeed in their positions. Without proper communication tools, diagnostic systems, or patient software tools, the job might be exponentially more challenging. Your practice can decrease the burnout risk by equipping staff with better platforms and programs.
  • Work-life balance: The veterinary profession can be mentally taxing, especially when techs spend 40 hours of their week in your clinic with minimal time away. The risk of burnout increases when veterinary professionals don’t have the option of mental health days, time with their families, or time to enjoy their independent lives outside of your practice.
  • Reward: Hard work for higher compensation feels rewarding, but the same can’t be said for hard work at minimal rates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a veterinary tech is a whopping $20,000 below the U.S. median for all occupations in total. Understandably, you can expect negative financial relationships between your vet tech’s life and career to hinder their professional satisfaction.


The Role of Workplace Culture in Burnout

Veterinary technician burnout doesn’t just stem from the managerial end–your clinic’s workplace culture can greatly impact burnout rates in multiple ways, as well. How stressful is being a vet tech? Often, this depends on the dynamics of your workplace.

Does your clinic’s culture create an unfair working environment or a toxic community? Burnout is more likely if you don’t nail down the following aspects at the practice:

  • Fairness: Does an employee feel like they’re being treated unfairly? If one technician carries the load of all the clinic cleaning and kitty-litter work for the team, that unfair treatment can create a toxic work environment that leads to burnout.
  • Community: A sense of community and teamwork can create a healthier clinic environment. When your veterinary tech staff feels isolated or unseen, heavier burdens for each employee are more likely to lead to burnout over time.


Would you like to learn more about how business culture affects business outcomes at your veterinary practice? Sign up for Weave’s webinar.

Practical Steps to Manage and Prevent Burnout

Whether you’re a technician experiencing burnout or a manager hoping to prevent or alleviate burnout for your team, use these practical tips:

  • Time off: Stepping away from veterinary science and patients protects your mental health to avoid veterinary technician burnout. Use this time to reach out to friends and family, exercise, eat well, and get much-needed sleep. No team should feel ashamed to take time off.
  • Grounding techniques: If you become stressed or overwhelmed at work, try grounding techniques like the STOP method (stop what you’re doing and focus on your breathing). Spend time teaching these methods to your team to address burnout and create healthy coping strategies.
  • Strict boundaries between work and home: Burnout-proof veterinary professionals set strict boundaries between their work and home lives to continuously protect their mental health. You may decide not to answer work calls when you’re not on the clock or not to discuss patient stories with your family.
  • Task delegation: Are you or your team members taking on more tasks than you can handle? Despite how understaffed the clinic may be or how driven you are to succeed, ask for help. As a veterinary manager, you can also reduce employee workloads by leveraging useful software and support.
  • Self-care tips: Outside of your veterinary care responsibilities, it’s crucial to take time to care for yourself. Why not consider prioritizing favorite activities, eating better, and exercising?


The Importance of Seeking Professional Help

Are you facing burnout? Why not speak to a fellow vet, technician, or manager and seek support? Professional intervention becomes necessary, especially when not all people realize the crisis they’re experiencing. 

If you’re in the veterinary management role, you could provide your team with an Employee Assistance Program. Include confidential, free mental health services for techs. Encourage anyone experiencing work-related burnout or other problems to take advantage of the help.

Here are some additional resources:


How Technology Can Help Reduce Burnout

Why do people quit being a vet tech? Sometimes, it’s too much. If reducing your team’s workload feels like an impossible feat, there’s another solution: let technology step in.

Prevent burnout by adopting efficient technologies to streamline office operations. That way, your staff no longer has to perform tedious manual tasks. For example, Weave’s products can automate online scheduling, appointment reminders, and digital check-in forms for vets. 

Check out our online scheduling features to see how our platform can benefit your practice!

Weave: Reducing the Mental Health Load for Veterinary Professionals

Veterinary technician burnout isn’t inevitable. Empowering teams with the resources and support they need is possible. Why not get a demo of Weave’s communication tools to see how you can mitigate the common causes of burnout in veterinary practices?

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