Five Tips and Tools for Recruiting Veterinarians

January 27, 2022

Today’s hiring scene in the veterinary profession is competitive, with staffing shortages being commonplace at many veterinary practices. So, how do you set yourself apart, choose the right hiring strategies, and attract the best veterinarian for your practice? Here are five tips that can help…

1. Determine what you’re looking for in a candidate

Maybe you’re feeling the pinch of a very busy schedule and a veterinarian shortage. However, even if you’re in a rush to hire someone new, it’s important to take some time and think about the type of candidate who would be a perfect fit for you practice. After all, someone who’s a great fit is much more likely to stick around long-term—reducing the expenses and headaches that could otherwise occur if this person decides to leave and you have to hire all over again.

So, what exactly are you looking for in an associate veterinarian? For example, do you need someone for full-time or part-time work—or perhaps just on a relief basis during a busy season? Someone who’s interested in ownership? A doctor who sees exotic species? Someone who can work independently, without mentoring?


Consider what matters most to you and your business. State these things up front as desired qualities in your job advertisements, so the candidates who apply are more likely to be a good long-term fit.

2. Crunch the numbers

It’s no secret that work-life balance has become a big factor for younger associates looking for a job. However, that doesn’t mean that a person will always choose a job based on work-life balance rather than salaries, benefits packages, and bonuses.

After all, an income is a crucial part of life, especially for veterinarians who have large student loans or work in an area with a high cost of living. So, crunch the numbers and figure out what is the best, most competitive offer you can make in exchange for hiring your dream associate. 

You may want to list your best offer up front, to attract the best candidates in a competitive job market. Or, you may want to list something a bit lower to leave room for negotiation—or consider experimenting with both of these strategies to see what gets you the best results.

Besides salary alone, your best offer may include things like excellent health care and retirement benefits, a signing bonus, relocation assistance, salary structure (pro-sal or another system), paid time off, CE allowance, and/or student loan repayment assistance. Seek help from a financial consultant as needed during this process, preferably one who is familiar with veterinary hospitals.

3. Think about wellbeing and work-life balance

While compensation is immensely important, there are other ways to make your hospital appealing to veterinary associates—even if you can’t outcompete corporate or other practices purely in terms of financial offerings. What makes your veterinary practice a great place to work, in addition to the pay and benefits you offer? Examples may include…

  • Scheduling considerations: a flexible work schedule, no on-call duties, limited or shared weekend duties, etc.
  • A collaborative environment and/or mentoring opportunities.
  • Fun things to do in your part of the country, so someone can imagine setting up their life there.
  • Low turnover and plenty of support staff.
  • Anything you love about your practice culture, such as a kind and supportive environment free of drama, use of Fear Free® techniques, etc.
  • Anything else that supports wellness at work and work-life balance.

You should always honest, but you may also be creative. Think about what YOU love about your practice—even if it’s something not normally listed on job advertisements.

4. Use the best methods to reach your ideal candidate

There is some strategy when it comes to placing your job advertisement. First, make sure your advertisement is as appealing as possible, to maximize its effectiveness. Then, think about the places you suspect your ideal candidate may be looking for a job. This could include...

  • The AVMA or VIN job boards.
  • Your state veterinary association.
  • Your former veterinary school (or the closest one geographically).
  • National job websites (Indeed seems to be the most popular).
  • Facebook or other veterinary social media groups.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Veterinary conferences.
  • Word of mouth—Tell your friends, family, classmates, coworkers, and even your local vendor reps, as one of them may know a veterinarian who is looking for a new opportunity.

Also, if it’s possible for your practice, consider long-term strategies such as setting up an externship for vet students in their clinical rotations. While they gain clinical practice experience, you’ll get to know potential candidates and build a good reputation with each graduating class.

5. Invest in help for recruiting

If other methods aren’t working, or if you’d like a highly targeted approach to finding the best match, a veterinary recruiter may be a good investment. A professional recruiter can certainly save you time. But remember, they also charge a fee for their services. This is usually a percentage of the yearly salary of the veterinarian you end up hiring, although some require payment up front regardless of whether they find you an employee or not.

Weigh the pros and cons when deciding if this type of service is right for you. Look for a vet recruiter with veterinary specialization, do your research, ask for references, and look closely at the terms of your agreement. If you perform your due diligence, a good recruiter can be a great solution to save time and find the right associate for your practice.

While recruiting, interviewing, and hiring can take up valuable time and energy, it’s worth prioritizing this task. After all, hiring the right person can help your practice run smoothly and build value over the years. By using the right tips and strategies to attract your next veterinarian, there’s a much better chance that you’ll find your perfect match and avoid going short-handed in the future.

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