What Can We UK Vets Learn From Our American Colleagues

There are significant differences between the UK and the US that affect working standards for vets. Probably the absence of a national health service in America is most influential; it is not uncommon for people to be denied healthcare due to a lack of insurance. Pet owners have more of an understanding of the cost of professional medical services. Despite the lawsuit culture, customers do appear to have a lot more respect for their ‘Doctors’.

I’ve never worked in the States, but have been intrigued by experiences of colleagues who have made their way across the pond. As mentioned before, some differences are deep-rooted in society. However, upon further investigation, it is evident there are systems that we could adopt. Big thanks to those vets Stateside for giving up their time to help with this week’s post.

Work-Life Balance

It appears commonplace that vets work in shifts, allowing hospitals to stay open for longer without burning out their employees. It is well-documented that shorter shifts can help to improve a company’s overall performance. If you take Sweden for example, the legal working day has been shortened to 6 hours to optimise staff retention and productivity.


I experienced this in Australia but appears to be popular in the US as well. Vets receive a commission for performing diagnostics, procedures and emergency critical care. As a Brit, the idea of performance-based pay in medicine can be difficult to comprehend. But I believe it is important to reward vets for performing gold standard medicine and working out-of-hours. Vets will have an incentive to go the extra mile, which ultimately improves animal welfare.

Vet Techs

The position of veterinary technician exists in addition to vet nurses and surgeons. They play a vital role within the vet team and perform straightforward procedures unsupervised. Examples include blood sampling, catheterisation, radiographs (including anaesthesia), vaccinations and post-op checks. This frees up the time to focus on management of more complicated cases. I have worked in practices who take full advantage of their nursing team, but this method of practising is hugely underused. Mobilising your nursing team and delegating responsibility is an efficient means of working, which can also promote job satisfaction.

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