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Exploring the ‘next normal’: How COVID-19 is shaping the future of the veterinary profession

Our veterinary consultant, Lizzie Erian-Round shares insights from our new report which looks at how COVID-19 is impacting the future of the veterinary industry.

Last week, a Zoom quiz with some veterinary friends highlighted a few things to me. Firstly, it appears I know far more Harry Potter trivia than I should probably admit to. Secondly, it struck me how vast and varied our experiences of COVID-19 have been. One furloughed friend had taken up sourdough bread making; and another that had just come off an insane 12 hour shift at an emergency clinic, I was privy to both ends of the spectrum.

This was just one of the themes we’ve been investigating summarised in our new veterinary insights report that offers a deep dive into the top challenges for vets navigating COVID-19 and insights into how veterinary professionals feel the future of the industry is being shaped alongside how can animal health companies meet their evolving needs.

In just under two weeks, over 500 respondents from a variety of veterinary roles across the globe completed our survey. We also conducted interviews with those working on the veterinary frontline and compared our findings to trends in other sectors. The results show four key emerging themes to watch out for as the pandemic continues;

Flexible working is the new way forward  

During the pandemic flexible working has gained momentum across sectors. In fact, it’s top of the post-Covid wish list for veterinarians, with over two thirds wanting an improved work/life balance to be a legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for flexible working patterns and the opportunity to job share.

Veterinary professionals have been left feeling undervalued

During the pandemic the public has displayed admiration for the vital role healthcare professionals have been playing in the fight against the virus. But veterinary professionals don’t feel this applies to them, with over half believing that positive public opinion towards them has changed very little – despite being essential workers. It begs the question, what can we do to make vets and their essential service feel valued moving forward?

Going digital – one size doesn’t fit all

COVID-19 has sparked a digital revolution, and while the rest of the world is on fast forward, the veterinary industry might not be quite as ready for the change. Although almost half of veterinary professionals are utilising more digital tools, many don’t believe they will continue to do so. One small animal vet in the UK highlighted: ‘I’m not sure I feel I can offer a good level of patient care via telemedicine without being able to do a physical examination. I would not like “telemedicine” consults to be the new normal.’ If vet professionals are to adopt a more flexible approach to working post pandemic then they must first strike the balance of effective remote operation and delivering quality patient care. 

New challenges in client communication?

As we navigate this ‘new normal’ of reduced face-to-face contact, veterinary professionals are having to change the way they communicate with clients. Over 70% agree that COVID-19 has changed the way they communicate with clients. However, many report struggling to communicate effectively with clients, particularly when it comes to managing expectations around remote services.  

The nature of veterinary practice is clearly changing; the question is how do we best support veterinary professionals through this change and proactively help shape the ‘next normal’?

For the full report, please get in touch at animal@thisispegasus.co.uk.