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AAHA Culture Connection

AAHA Culture Connection

According to the 2018 Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study, veterinarians under the age of 45 reported greater rates of serious psychological distress than the general population. Major self-reported conditions of those distressed included depression (94%), compassion fatigue and burnout (88%), and anxiety and panic attacks (83%).

And they’re not the only ones struggling. According to a 2016 study by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), half of all respondents cited issues related to practice culture, including office dynamics and communication, as their greatest professional challenge. Forty-one percent of technicians surveyed also indicated compassion fatigue as a major factor negatively affecting their job.

Workplace stressors and mental health issues like these don’t just take a personal toll on affected team members. On a larger scale, they can also be responsible for driving down employee engagement—the emotional bond team members have to your organization and its goals—which studies have identified as a key indicator of a healthy workplace culture.

In Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, authors Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen explain the difference between engaged and disengaged employees:

Engaged individuals “consistently perform at significantly higher levels across outcome measures. They enthusiastically drive productive relationships with customers and associates. Continuous improvement and innovation are a personal quest.”

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, “are unhappy and actively share it. The focus of their relationships is built on the negative; they co-sign other people’s discontent with no exploration of solutions.” (Coffman and Sorensen, 2013)

Do you know where your team stands?

Practice owners and managers
Technicians and support staff


Coffman, Curt and Sorensen, Kathie. 2013. Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch: The Secret to Extraordinary Results Igniting the Passion Within.

AAHA's Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative is supported through a generous educational grant from Merck Animal Health.


1. Survey your team.
2. Process the feedback.
3. Access your resources.
4. Resurvey your team.


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