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Sep 13, 2023

New Study by Instinct: The State of Emergency and Specialty Veterinary Care in 2023

Instinct Science releases first "State of ER and Specialty Veterinary Care report" analyzing trends in workload, compensation, retention, and morale.

PHILADELPHIA The overwhelming majority of ER and specialty hospitals are facing staffing shortages (86%), employee mental health challenges (83%), and increased patient volumes (54%), according to new survey results from the State of Emergency and Specialty Veterinary Care report, which surveyed more than 250 of the industry’s hospital staff to understand current trends in this segment of the veterinary landscape. Findings from the report include:

  • In 2023, more than half (52%) of emergency and specialty hospitals reported hiring relief veterinarians to work in the practice, while 67% of hospitals increased overtime to handle workload.

  • In light of rising patient volumes, workloads, and wait times seen across the industry, many emergency and specialty hospitals have adopted digital treatment sheets (38%), cloud-based PIMs/EMR (36%), or client communications platforms (32%) in the last year.

  • Urgent cares and smaller emergency hospitals are leading the way with the highest rates of implementing workflow improvements (60%), staff training (40%), mental health days (40%), and pricing changes (40%), as well as new diagnostic/imaging technology (47%) and wearable devices (33%).

“We constantly hear that traditional veterinary surveys have brought valuable perspectives to the industry, but because they are often weighted toward general practices, they don’t quite hit the mark for the growing emergency and specialty sector,” said Dr. Caleb Frankel, founder and CEO of Instinct. “So, for our inaugural ‘State of Emergency and Specialty Veterinary Care’ report, we’re aiming to share what we’re learning and shed light on how hospitals are evolving amid cascading challenges.”

ER and specialty sector growth means hospitals are evolving the way they attract and retain talent.

The inflection point between veterinary staff shortages and YoY patient growth across emergency and specialty care means the sector is experiencing increased demand for veterinary talent. The survey found that emergency and specialty hospitals are seeing veterinary professionals change jobs more frequently, for more competitive salaries and benefits and/or the flexibility that relief work offers.

Urgent care employees rated their team morale significantly higher than any other hospital type surveyed, with 80% rating morale high or very high compared to 37% for emergency-only practices. Notably, urgent cares are an emerging practice type, and leading the way in offering mental health and wellness days.

Technology and training will become increasingly crucial for employee morale, retention, and workflow.

A majority (75%) of emergency and specialty staff saw positive improvements from adopting new technology in 2023, including improved efficiency, increased accessibility for clients, and/or enhanced patient monitoring.

More than any other factors, the survey found that team expansion, technology-related investments, and time off for mental health and wellness have the strongest correlation with higher employee morale and retention rates.

Hospitals that implemented new technology in the last year and provided time off for mental wellness days saw 10-15% better employee retention rates.

Of all veterinary technology, cloud-based PIMs and digital treatment sheets have the biggest impact on employee retention. In hospitals that reported zero turnover in the last 12 months, 47% implemented new cloud-based PIMs and 59% implemented digital treatment sheets in the last year.

You can see the full results of the study here.

About Instinct

Instinct was founded in 2017 by Dr. Caleb Frankel and a team of veterinary and technology professionals to help veterinary hospitals evolve on pace with consumer technology. Instinct has seen over 80,000 users on their platforms in veterinary centers spanning 4 continents. Their suite of products power many of the industry’s leading university veterinary teaching centers and multi-specialty/emergency advanced care centers. Learn more at


Lindsay Sugarman

Director of Marketing

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