As a veterinarian I encounter many different people and personalities daily. I have had the sweet old lady to the screaming one. I have calmed people down to having my manager getting involved. Never in my life would I ever think I would have someone treat me the way that I was recently treated. Facebook can be a very dramatic place. I usually do my best to stay out of it but I caved and engaged.
You see when people are passive aggressive constantly and you constantly ignore it sometimes you need to just stop it. I was recently told that becoming a veterinarian means I only received a large sum of student debt and I am not actually smart. The funny part about this is the particular person is the first to come running to me when their dog is diagnosed with cancer because at that point she believed I was intelligent.
What people do not realize is that when people become veterinarians they do it because they love animals, they do it because they want to help. It is the same reason that many MDs become MDs or nurses become nurses. It is not because we just needed to pick a profession that will make us a ton of cash, because if that was the case I picked the wrong profession. I am not making millions giving vaccinations, treating ear infections or spaying animals. I did this because I wanted to help animals live longer and be with their family longer. I did this to watch my patients grow up and be there from beginning to end.
What truly irritates me is the lack of respect I get for my chosen profession. I have been told that I am not a real doctor since I don’t treat humans, regardless of the fact that a veterinarian wears multiple hats. What family doctor will treat your eye issue, your thyroid condition or even your dental concerns? None. They send you to someone else. As a Veterinarian, while we do have specialists, the majority of the time I am the one treating them. I have been told that I am wrong when someone reads something on google that contradicts my treatments and I have also been told by a rescue that medication that kills certain intestinal parasites doesn’t really do that. This is exhausting.
There are situations more often than not people think that Google is the end all and be all of the veterinary field when in reality just like in human medicine, without understanding everything else you are completely wrong. I have even seen people take Google’s advice and actually harm their animal. The response I get is, “Google said it was ok.”
The veterinary field has been struck with a severe case of suicides, depression and mental health. The lack of respect, the long hours, the demanding clients. The people who constantly contact you when you are not working but won’t pay bring their pet to you asking us questions, the people that spent $3,000 on a puppy but can’t afford the vaccinations to keep it healthy and the large amount of debt with the small salaries (compared to our human counterpart). I so far have lost one classmate due to suicide and I hope I don’t see any more go from this.
Just as I respect every other profession I expect people to respect mine. The fact that many people don’t and the fact that I have to defend my profession daily is exhausting. When people are upset their pets are sick they blame veterinarians, when people are upset their negligence caused the issue they blame the veterinarian. I have seen people who were wrong even go as far as facebook to try to destroy a veterinarian’s career and the veterinarian can’t even defend themselves due to privacy laws. The majority of the time it was the client not listening and taking the medical advice of the veterinarian. That is why when the lawsuits or the board cases occur these things are thrown out. The medical notes are facts you will never know since they are not legally allowed to be released without the permission of the client. I personally even had someone take me to the state board and lied about everything to “get me back” for the client taking a cone off their dog. How can people truly think this is ok?
How can people try to attack others when they have previously jumped through hoops to help them? Why can’t people just respect others? These are questions I will never understand. I have been in the veterinary industry since I was 18 years old. I have held every position besides being an owner. I have seen it go from an extremely respected profession to what people call a joke. I am still trying to figure out why this is. I am asked all the time if I could do it again would I? The truth is the answer is no. Not because I hate what I do, in reality, I still love helping animals. I will still bend over backward to help clients and pets. I wouldn’t do it again because of two reasons. The lack of respect makes me constantly having to defend my profession and the student loan debt (which is a whole other story). I have technicians come to me, undergraduate students and even people come to me asking to talk to their children about how amazing it is to be a veterinarian and want me to paint this picture of puppies and kittens. I am brutally honest. There is a dark cloud over the profession right now. Will it change? Who knows. All I know is I am waiting for the day when I don’t have the person I have bent over backwards for tell me I am not smart, try to bring me down and try to destroy my career.
September is national suicide awareness month. This is a big deal in the veterinary industry and it is something that shouldn’t be passed over lightly. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is there 24 hours a day. Please call 1-800-273-8255. I can’t imagine losing another friend or classmate over something that was completely avoidable.