Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
The veterinary industry has been facing a shortage of registered veterinary professionals throughout the province of Alberta. There are more than 840 current vacancies in Alberta alone. In June 2020, the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) and the Alberta Veterinary Technologist Association (ABVTA) together with the Government of Alberta, partnered to commission a workforce study. The 2020 workforce study revealed growing concern around industry workforce shortages. If left unaddressed, these shortages can pose a risk to animal welfare, agricultural production, food security, and public health.
Pressure on Veterinary Teams Increased During the Pandemic
Pet ownership and adoptions have increased in Alberta. With an estimated ratio of approximately 3700 pets for every one veterinary team in the province, many veterinary practices and emergency hospitals are short staffed, and teams are working longer hours. The increase in demand for veterinary services threatens to extend the long hours teams are already working, and could increase industry burnout and attrition rates, further threatening the supply of qualified, passionate veterinary professionals.
Thankfully there is some relief on the horizon, as the Alberta Government has recently announced financial support to increase capacity at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) which aims to double the number of graduating veterinarians over the next three years. The Alberta Government also announced support to grow enrolment at other post secondary schools that offer animal health technology programs and veterinary technologists (RVTs) training including NAIT, Lakeland College, and Olds College. These solutions will take time to alleviate the pressures of today on the demand for veterinary services.
The ABVMA has launched a public awareness campaign to educate the animal-owning public about the situation veterinary teams in Alberta face. This campaign, called Every Name Deserves Care has been created to inform the public about the reality many veterinary teams face today. Increased wait times at your neighbourhood veterinary practice are to be expected and having a relationship with your veterinarian and planning visits are critical to ensuring you and your pet have access to veterinary care when required. This campaign also reminds the public that veterinary teams need empathy as much as the pets they care for.
Officially launched Alberta-wide on May 18th, the campaign features a mix of traditional and digital campaign materials including billboards, print ads, video assets, and a digital campaign which directs the audience to an informative new website: everynamedeservescare.ca.
Darrell Dalton, Registrar, CEO of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association states, “Veterinary professionals are animal lovers, too. That’s part of why they work long hours doing what they love. We know customers love their pets as much as our vet teams do and showing them a little bit of patience or kindness can go a long way towards making visits a more positive experience. The goal of the Every Name Deserves Care campaign is to build appreciation, greater respect, and affinity towards the veterinary profession by the public here in Alberta. The campaign offers pet owners practical solutions to help their pets and continue to make veterinary visits positive experiences across Alberta.”