CVS research identifies factors associated with UK veterinary nurse resignations

23rd Jun, 2023

  • Research

CVS research has for the first time identified factors associated with UK veterinary nurse resignations through an examination of veterinary practice data, adding valuable insights to previous survey-based research.

The research was undertaken to support the wider industry in reducing the number of nurses leaving their roles and the sector entirely.

It found that the most frequent cited reasons for nurses resigning included career progression (36.7%), personal reasons (12.9%), better pay or benefits (11.9%), work-life balance (10.1%), relocation (6.8%) and no return from parental leave (3.6%).

The CVS research identified the factors associated with lower odds of future nurse resignations. They included longer employment tenure[i] (< 0.001) and working at practices with greater property and facilities ratings[ii] (< 0.049). Nurse role was associated with future resignations (= 0.008), with head nurses and student nurses least likely to resign, adding to the evidence to support nursing career pathways. The employee engagement metric, eNPS, was also identified as a reliable indicator of nurse retention reflecting similar findings in other healthcare professions.

Imogen Schofield, Veterinary Statistician and Epidemiologist at CVS, said:

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“We want to support the whole industry in reducing the number of nurses leaving their roles and the profession. Little objective industry data is available on the true reasons behind nurse attrition and we believe this is the first study to outline the risk factors for nurse resignations using practice data, providing an important addition to the evidence-base surrounding this complex topic.

“Reflecting on our research, that was based on data in 2021, we have since seen our attrition rate fall and our employee engagement measure increase as we have focused on developing career pathways, empowering nurses to take on more responsibilities;  developing a range of wellbeing programmes, launching a variety of colleague benefits, and significantly investing in our practices.”

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The CVS study included the anonymised employment data of 1,642 veterinary nurses working across 418 UK primary-care companion animal veterinary practices at the end of 2020. It included both qualified and student nurses. Of these, 278 (16.9%) nurses resigned from their veterinary practice between 1 January to 31 December 2021[iii].

Read the full study - Schofield I, Jacklin BD. Identifying factors associated with UK veterinary nurse resignations through examination of veterinary practice data. Vet Rec. 2023;e3165.

CVS Group operates across small animal, farm animal, equine, laboratories and crematoria, with over 500 veterinary practices and referral centres in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands. In the last five years the company has invested nearly £80 million in its sites, facilities and equipment, in addition to industry leading training and support, to give the best possible care to animals.

[i] The median job tenure of all nurses was 4.3 years and differed for resigners (3.2 years) and non-resigners (4.6 years). Tenure was strongly predictive of retention, even after taking age into account which could indicate that time within a particular practice, rather than age and perhaps experience, is of particular importance.

[ii] Quality of practice property was scored from 3 (lowest score possible) to 15 (best possible score) by regional managers experienced in assessing veterinary properties using a standard scoring system to ensure consistency. The practice property scoring was based on the combined score for three measures: appearance of the practice, clinical facilities and expected pet owner perception.

[iii] Compared to veterinary nurse figures to date of 24.8-53.8%. [Jeffery A, Taylor E. Veterinary nursing in the United Kingdom: Identifying the factors that influence retention within the profession. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2022;9.Hagen JR, Weller R, Mair TS, Batt-Williams S, Kinnison T. Survey investigating factors affecting recruitment and retention in the UK veterinary nursing profession. Veterinary Record. 2022;191(12):e2078]. In human healthcare, reported turnover rates for nurses working in profession vary, with estimates ranging from 13.4% to 44.3%. Moscelli G, Sayli M, Mello M. Staff engagement, coworkers’ complementarity and employee retention: evidence from English NHS hospitals. IZA Discussion Paper No. 15638. 2022. Duffield CM, Roche MA, Homer C, Buchan J, Dimitrelis S. A comparative review of nurse turnover rates and costs across countries. J Adv Nurs. 2014;70(12):2703–12.