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.

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. This makes me sad, Maria. Do not let them inside your head. People who lash out are dealing with issues of their own, and often trying to pin their own incompetencies on someone else. Focus on why you do it and why you love it. ❤️

    • It is so sad. Another veterinarian actually to their life 9/13/2018. Then last night in one of my FB groups another is at that point. The stress from everything is taking a toll on the whole profession and it is heartbreaking.

  2. I wish I could tell you that it will get better but I’d be lying. I am a recently retired vet who spent 31 years inthe field and the last 27 as a solo small animal vet. I have been picketed, seen my reputation dragged through the mud online, been yelled at and even threatened all by people who should have been thanking me. The same people who tell you that your Herriot/st Francis incarnate are the same ones who will tell you that you are a money grubbing jerk two weeks later. My advice is don’t put stock into either one. Don’t believe those who will put you up on that pedestal or those who want to lower you to their level If at the end of the day you can say you did your best for each patient you saw then you are the veterinarian I would be proud to call a colleague. Learn to take joy in that wet doggie kiss or that purring cat, that surgical case that went fine and the medical case that resolved. Remember the successes and let go of the failures. We fail every day all because our four legged friends don’t live long enough. We are telling people bad news every day and losing a piece of our heart with every euthanasia. That’s the profession we chose and if you base your worth on by the appreciation of clients you will be sadly disappointed. There is a saying “no good deed goes unpunished” that I have found to so true. Yet I would do it all again because I know I made a difference every day in some pet’s life. That is why we became veterinarians and why we show up every day despite everything. As the song says”let it go” and know that you do your best not for the client but for the pet. We both know if the pet was in charge of thank you’s We would be inundated with dead mice at the back doorstep and old steak bones.

      • THIS! Barbara you hit the nail on the head! Never thought about relying on our ACTUAL PATIENTS for the thank you. I’ll be secretly tallying my mice and steak bones from here out! Thank you!

      • Thank you Barbara for these words, I am a very deluded vet that would never do this profession again, but your words made me smile 🙂

    • Of the same vintage.. I would agree completely. Enjoy the company of your animal patients. Ignore those of your clients that do not positively contribute to your day. They are clearly not worthy of you.
      Most importantly do not make your job your while life. If you need to change this, do something small to start that change today.

  3. My both girls choose this profession and as a prog manager and receptionist they handle alot of responsibility and abuse
    But they love animals and do it for them. God bless you all. Our pets love you even more..

  4. Hi Maria
    I am an undergraduate vet in my last year from a coutry which have still dogs around the street and people treat them bad, i have also work in Italy and I saw the difference, I read your article and I want to say that during my studies since I have been 18 years old I have work in my parents buisness travel agency, where today I have my own agency, What I want to say is that every kind of proffesion has their problems, struggles, people who dont value your work, who dont respect your work,even if you help them.
    People who travel and dont pay in the end.
    So just keep going this is Life, and you should go.
    You are lucky that in your coutry veterinary medicine is a developd field.

    • We are very lucky we have the means to take amazing care of our animals in this country. I have been to other countries and completely see exactly what you are talking about.

  5. Thank you for writing this. I haven’t even finished vet school (headed into year 4), and I hear all the time how I’m not a real doctor because I don’t treat humans. I have back problems due to the amount of study I have to put in. I was recently in the ER and I said to the doctor “you know how it is, all the hours of study, you went through medical school”. She looked at me like I was a child, like my experience couldn’t even comprehend hers. And said “Well, good luck then” and walked away. I think what angers me is the all the blood, sweat, and tears, oh the tears, that go into achieving this dream. I don’t need to be recognized, I didn’t get into this profession for that, but to not even be respected makes me feel so low…

    • Good luck in your last year! There is an amazing support system among veterinarians. Go into rooms with confidence and stand by the amazing medicine you learned. Don’t let this profession consume you and know you are doing this for the love of animals! You will do great!!

      • Because you know this going into your profession soon, you will expect this & learn fast to protect yourself from passion fatigue. Take time for yourself, family, hobbies & health. It’s an amazing profession with emotional rollercoaster days. Have someone to talk to & a place or activity you enjoy to help you defuse & shake off stressful & sad days. You have way more exciting days than bad ones; however we as a profession are hard on ourselves & harsh comments can cut through our souls. You are way ahead of the game by being aware of this issue, so make sure to believe in you, your medicine, career & follow your passion. It can consume you, so make sure to take time away from work & enjoy life so you stay mentally sharp & strong when you’re working in this incredible field. Now let’s go save some animals!

  6. I think we have been taught to be so PC to ensure we don’t offend people (our clients) that we have forgotten to demand better behavior from them. After owning my business I saw the harsh truth & got to the point that I would not tolerate people bashing me staff, myself, or the profession. I bring them into a private exam room with another staff member to witness & kindly tell them they need to seek out a new veterinarian since they do not appear to be happy with our service. About half the time they are shocked that I don’t gravle out an appointment & bend over backwards to appease them & the other half get upset & storm out. The ones that are shocked are usually trainable & end up becoming great clients. The others we happy to see leave. Oh & when their new vet calls to get the records faxed we make sure to let them know what kind of client they were. I decided about 3 years into owning my practice that I was tired of the rude behavior & trying to make ungrateful clients happy. I started having more fun at work & my staff seemed to be happier. You’ll still get the new ones you have to train, but I think it’s time we as profession stop allowing this disrespectful behavior by verbally (but professionally) spanking clients for their misbehavior. They can be trained especially if all members of the team & profession are on board. Our mental health is too important to allow people to continue the mental & verbal abuse of a whole profession. Band together & keep talking to each other to share ideas and NEVER be affraid to fire a client & unload the 10% that cause 90% of your heartache. Be strong y’all. P.S. I so my practice after only 9 years because of this very issue & high stress that was zapping the passion out of me & feeling like a “job.”. I’ve had 3 board complaints that were all outragious & BBB complaints by people who were never even clients. All were thrown out or disregarded. It can be exhausting, so we really have to find a forum & for a true network to help us help each other. 3 months later I’m going to work part time & couldn’t be happier. Let’s help our colleagues & stop the tragic deaths of so many amazing people / veterinarians.

  7. I managed a very busy small animal practice for thirteen years. In that time I was threatened with bodily harm (one fella was going to bring his shot gun in and make me “pay” because he felt his bill was too high. Another man was yelling/swearing at me and when I told him this conversation is over he leaned in and raised his fist like he was going to punch me.), called the most humiliating things, hung up on and told I didn’t give a damn about the animals…..I only cared about how much I could gouge out of ppl.
    On the other side I have been hugged, told I was an angel from heaven, given gifts, told when I’ e shed a tear in a euthanasia that “ It’s ok dear you all did the the very best you could for Fido and he and I love you for that,etc. Those are the ones I try to remember. It’s awefully difficult some days tho. My heart hurts for all the veterinarians considering suicide. Try to remember all the family, friends and clients that love you. They’ll be broken if you leave. Let them wrap their love around and use it as your shield against the world that hurts you.

  8. I’m a medical doctor and I feel you. For the record, I own a coffee mug that says, “Please don’t confuse your Google search with my medical degree.” Even if I don’t directly show that mug to my know-it-all patients, it makes me feel better just owning it. They make those mugs for vets, too, and, ironically you can find one via a Google search. Enjoy!

  9. In vet school we had t-shirts that said “real doctors treat more than one species”.

    After 13 years, I’m over the whole thing. I call this my thankless job. Would never do it again. Hoping to find someway out of GP soon.

  10. I couldn’t agree more. I’m only 5 years out of school and am so soured by this profession that I also do not recommend it to students, and truthfully want to get it out of it. Thank you for your honesty.

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