The equine veterinary practice is vital for the welfare of our equine companions but can present formidable challenges to those in the field. High-stress levels, demanding schedules, and the conundrum of financial stability often lead to burnout among practitioners, ultimately threatening the future of the profession. Recognizing these issues, the 2023 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention was centered around making equine veterinary practice more sustainable. This article is a summary of these insightful discussions.

Creating a Sustainable Environment in Equine Veterinary Practice

Sustainability within the veterinary field focuses on building a work setting that considers the well-being of its practitioners while ensuring the financial health of the practice. It aims to strike a balance between preserving animal welfare and maintaining a robust mental and physical state for the veterinary professionals. The AAEP convention underscored the importance of sustainability as a solution to the challenges faced in the field.

Maintenance of Work-Life Balance and Mental Health Promotion Strategies

The issue of work-life balance weighed heavily on the convention's discussions, backed with the emphasis on mental health and its role in sustainability. Following suggestions were proposed:

  • Embracing a Four-Day Work Week: Redefining the traditional five-day workweek, this approach secures an additional day for personal activities, reducing burnout.
  • Establishing Well-defined Client Boundaries: By ensuring strict professional boundaries and communicating work hours and availability to clients, the possible merger of personal and professional life can be avoided.
  • Utilization of Telehealth Appointments: Telehealth interventions save time and limit travel, providing efficient schedule management.

The Road to Employee Retention in Veterinary Practice

Employee retention poses another significant challenge for veterinary practices. Creative strategies suggested to overcome this issue included:

  • Transparency with Veterinary Students: Contextualizing the realities of the profession to budding practitioners can prepare them for the challenges and help make informed career decisions.
  • Competitive Salaries and Benefits: Offering attractive remuneration packages can attract high-quality professionals and ensure their longevity in the practice.
  • Promoting Professional Development: Providing opportunities for continuous learning and professional growth can enhance employee motivation and satisfaction.

Strategies for Sustainable Emergency Care

Emergency care is pivotal in equine veterinary practice but given the emotional and financial demands, it becomes essential to devise sustainable strategies for its execution. The panelists proposed:

  • Limited Emergency Care for Regular Clients: By focusing on regular clients, practices can maintain consistent revenue while building stronger rapport with their patrons.
  • Joint On-Call Duties with Other Practices: Collaboration with other practices to share emergency duties can alleviate the burden on individual veterinarians, fostering a better work-life balance.

Further Areas of Research

The discussions at the AAEP Convention identified potential research areas for ensuring sustainable practices in the veterinary field. These include exploring successful examples of sustainable practices in equine veterinary medicine, understanding the impact of work-life balance on mental health, strategies to improve retention, the role of veterinary schools in promoting these measures, and the correlation between revenue generation and veterinary salaries.


The sustainability of equine veterinary practice is the lifeline of the profession. While it contends with unique challenges, innovative strategies from the AAEP Convention help pave the way to a resilient future. Through collaboration and sharing best practices, we can craft a sustainable, rewarding professional landscape for those in the field as well as the well-being of our equine companions.

Sources: The, 2023 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention.