Published on February 22, 2022
Workplace stress and burnout out are all-too-common among today’s registered veterinarian technicians (RVTs). Pandemic restrictions, client demands, and mounting expectations are stretching RVTs to their limit, leaving them with little time to breathe, let alone tend to their mental health.
“As an RVT in practice, your mind and often body are in constant motion from the start of the shift until the end,” says Debbie Sims, RVT and Account Executive, Eastern Ontario with CDMV. “You have very few moments to yourself, and you are being pulled in multiple different directions constantly. Add attempting to have a social life or raising a family to that, and the stress can at times feel unbearable.”
No doubt, it can often be a struggle to make it through the day. Nevertheless, personal physical and mental health must always remain a priority.
Here are seven questions you can ask yourself to better understand and manage the stress of the job:
1- Can I control what’s causing my stress?
There are factors we can influence and others that are out of our hands. Learning to recognize which is which, and accepting the factors that are out of your control, will go a long way towards helping focus your stress management effort.
“If the situation causing stress is within your control, then do whatever is in your power to make the change to relieve the stress. And then, if the answer is that the stressor is out of my control, you simply must let it go, or at least let it go for now,” says Sims.
2- Is this bad energy I am feeling even mine?
Emotions can run high in a team-based environment. And given that RVTs spend their days in close quarters with equally stressed colleagues and clients, it’s not uncommon for negative energies to pass from one person to the next.
“Energy can easily transfer between us, and what started as an amazing day can suddenly turn and you don’t even know why,” says Sims. “It may have started when you got a bad phone call from a client or worked with another stressed colleague. Recognizing this energy as not your own renders it powerless, and it will easily go away. The trick is asking.”
3- Am I doing all I can to take care of myself?
Self-care is fundamental in any high-demand field. This is especially true for RVTs who spend their day putting other’s needs ahead of their own. Even so, everyone has their limit. It’s important to take a step back from time to time and recharge, be it through a calming walk, a chat with friends, or doing something fun with family. It may not seem like there’s enough time for self-care, but it’s always important to fit “you” into your schedule.
4- Am I in the best work environment?
It’s a difficult question, but sometimes it must be asked. Says Sims: “All veterinary hospitals can be stressful environments; however, it is important to be a part of a team that has similar values and beliefs as you do. This will reduce your stress significantly working with like-minded individuals.”
5- What is my 5-year plan?
This is a common interview question but also a great way to reframe current challenges. When stress hits, try honing in on your long-term career goals and ambitions. This will enable you to see today’s stress as a stepping stone to a more rewarding tomorrow.
6- Do I have a mentor when I need one?
You’ve likely been inspired by several people along your career journey. Don’t be afraid to lean on them during hard times.
“A person who totally and completely gets your struggle, and can give you advice on how to get through what you are going through and how they handled the situation, can be invaluable in stressful times,” adds Sims.
7- Do I need to do this all alone?
The simple answer is, no. Nevertheless, multitasking is a default state for many RVTs, and it’s easy to forget to ask for help.
Fortunately, Sims points out that there are many sources for support, including:
- Industry representatives, who may have already put something together closely resembling what you are attempting to spend a lot of time on.
- Colleagues: Delegating some of your tasks can empower other colleagues and free up your time. When delegating, keep tasks that are an RVTs responsibility or require RVT expertise for yourself.
- CDMV Accompt Executives, who can help you ensure the correct ordering codes are within your software or show you more efficient ways of ordering and performing related tasks that will make the day run more smoothly.
- Online groups: Organizations like Not One More Vet can connect you to amazing, like-minded industry professionals who recognize the stress in the veterinary profession and offering a supportive platform.
- Provincial Registered Veterinary Technician groups. For example, the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) has a member assistance program that offers all RVT members and their family members short-term counselling and support services for work, health & life concerns, confidentially.
- Online selling support: Setting up an online store can help reduce calls from clients who want to add to your daily order with specific needs for their pets. Of note, some online boutique handles all of this behind the scenes and it shows up at the clinic packaged for your client, further reducing stress.
These questions can help you reframe your workplace stress and develop more effective management techniques. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that stress is a common factor in the pet-care sector and there are resources and supports out there to help you work and feel at your best.
Debbie Sims is an RVT and Account Executive, Eastern Ontario with CDMV, a Canada-wide distributor dedicated to supplying and supporting veterinary practices.