Ivan Zakharenkov, DVM on Using Lean to Address Burnout in Veterinary Medicine


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My guest for Episode #406 is Dr. Ivan Zakharenkov, he's a doctor of veterinary medicine and he's Chief Executive Officer at the company Veterinary Integration Solutions. He goes by Dr. Zak for short and he's based in Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

I'm joined, as my co-host, by Chip Ponsford, DVM — he was also co-host of Episode #254 with a veterinarian as our guest then, as well. Chip also has a blog called Lean Vets and a book titled Lean Veterinary Practice Management.

Today, we all talk about the important issue of burnout — Ivan wrote a whitepaper on the subject and you can download that as a PDF: “Lean Thinking in Veterinary Organizations to Improve Employee Experience.” He also wrote an MBA dissertation of the same name. In that research, he considered a correlation between human and animal healthcare and proposed that lean thinking can help reduce burnout.

This is a topic that we've explored twice on the podcast with Dr. Paul DeChant, looking at it in the realm of “human healthcare.” I agree that Lean can be part of the solution, in these settings and elsewhere!!

Topics and questions include:

  • Tell us about your background as a veterinarian and entrepreneur
  • How did you get introduced to Lean?
  • How bad is the burnout problem? Is it worse for women?
    • Female vets 3.5x rate in society, male vets it's 2.5x
    • A spectrum of burnout?
  • What is compassion fatigue vs. burnout?
    • “Compassion fatigue goes away on vacation, burnout is deeper”
  • What other conclusions did you draw from your dissertation?
  • What are the six triggers of burnout?
  • How does Lean address burnout?
  • Lean as a technical and social system?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Very interesting topic. I would have never thought to associate lean with burnout. When you begin to look at burnout with lean thinking you begin to see how this is an issue that lean may begin to address. I like the openness to look for solutions to problems that some people may not consider.


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