University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture
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Keywords

COVID, COVID-19, Pandemic, Veterinarian, Veterinary, Mental health

Abstract

The first cases of coronavirus reported in the United States came in January 2020 (World Health Organization, 2020). In the two years since then, countries around the world have been affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent social, economic, and mental health issues. Previous research shows that the animal healthcare field is already overrun with burnout, substance abuse, depression, and increased levels of stress (Gardner and Hini, 2006), and the pandemic has only compounded these issues (Mair et al., 2020). Observing a lack of meaningful reporting on the issues affecting veterinary staff led the researchers to investigate staff members’ practices, day- to-day responsibilities, and their current mental health. In this mixed-methods study, the purpose was to investigate and report the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on veterinary staff in the Northwest Arkansas area through online self-reporting surveys and virtual interviews with the staff. Sixteen clinics were contacted and four agreed to participate in the online survey. The survey remained open for two weeks and virtual interviews were scheduled following the survey completion. Descriptive statistic findings (n=10) showed an overall increase in staffing shortages (80%), increased volume of daily appointments (100%), an increase in work-related burnout (90%), stress (90%), depressive tendencies (70%), and anxiety (100%). Qualitative interviews (n=5) explored how maintaining a sense of community and belonging with peers was a helpful strategy to cope with the stress of these unforeseen circumstances. The results from this study align with previous studies looking into burnout, stress, and depression in veterinary medicine.

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