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Letter from the AAIV Board President

President's Letter | Q4 2022
By Timothy Smaha
Posted: 2022-11-09T19:12:00Z

President's Perspective: Work-Life Balance


It is hard to believe that we have already gotten to the point of passing on the baton to the next president of AAIV. I am confident that Dr. Allison Sateren from Boehringer Ingelheim will be a great leader for our organization. Dr. Sateren and I have worked side by side all year to ensure a seamless transition, and we have collaborated with the board of directors to plan valuable events for next year. We are excited about our new board of directors for 2023 and excited to introduce you to the team at VMX. This will kick off with our networking reception at 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16. Check out the section of the newsletter with all our AAIV VMX details below. 


I want to now turn our attention to the compensation survey. You probably noticed, if you took it, that it is very different this year. Why does it look different? Dr. Sateren and I formed a “task force” of industry representatives who are hiring managers at several of our major companies. The idea was to streamline the survey for eventual publication looking at the trends over three to five years. We eliminated open-ended questions to make the data clearer to evaluate, and we changed the questions to improve the survey so that it is more useable for hiring managers. We also wanted to capture the differences in salary for those who switch companies, starting salary versus average salary and the importance of work-life balance. For the first time, we will be working with a statistician to ensure that the data is clearly analyzed and able to be used year after year. 


Having looked at the early results, there are some interesting perspectives that I think we all need to consider when recruiting and hiring new veterinarians. This is a compensation survey, which means it is about money, right? Not exactly. One thing that we have noticed in the past few years is that emotional compensation is as important or more important than financial compensation to the majority of veterinarians. Money is great, no one will complain about that, but honestly, you cant go onto social media without seeing three or four posts a day about burnout, work-life balance, satisfaction in jobs, etc. 


The survey appears to be capturing that. In the early results that I have seen, for those who have switched jobs or started at a new firm in the past five years, more veterinarians did so for a better work-life balance than anything else. Actually, of the respondents so far, almost 95% did so for a better work-life balance. This is compared to only 40% who changed jobs for a promotion and only 70% for a salary increase. When asked about work-life balance, almost 40% do not find it easy to balance work and personal life in their current role. 


So, how do we offer this to our employees? Perhaps we should ask what that looks like. The problem is that all of us see this balance differently. What works for a two-income, no children household is not the same as a sole provider for a family of six. What works for a mother of young children doesn’t work for a grandfather of three dogs. Do we offer a “cafeteria plan” for our new hires: you can choose your own adventure and pick and choose the benefits that work best for you? Is this something that is even achievable for most of us? 


For our hiring managers out there, what do you think? Perhaps we should take this one step further. Would you like to see an AAIV task force to discuss how we can improve work-life balance? Would you like to help us help you? AAIV wants to know our members thoughts on this. Please reach out to us at industryvets@gmail.com to let us know. How can we help you and your colleagues achieve the perfect work-life balance?