I feel compelled to write this blog on behalf of my vet colleagues who work so hard everyday. Did you know that vets are four times more likely to commit suicide than the general public? Why? A feeling of helplessness. Veterinary medicine is at crisis point in Ireland, there are not enough vets to fill all the positions in Ireland. There are plenty of vets studying veterinary but on graduation they are choosing jobs abroad where they get a better quality of life.
As vets we are dealing with real live animals. Every case is different, every animal responds differently to treatment and every pet brings a new challenge. Our job is unpredictable, and sometimes pets get sick and die despite our help. We always feel like we should have done more, or done something differently. We discuss with our friends about the case and we reassure each other that there was nothing else that we could have done.
There is no vet in this country that has never woken up thinking about a sick patient they are looking after. That sick feeling in your stomach worrying about the cat that breathing problems that are getting worse, the dog that is still vomiting or the pet that is coming in tomorrow for major surgery. Vets are under continuous pressure from online social media to perform and out perform for clients. People have a platform to reach millions of people with their complaints and others without the full story can ruin someone’s reputation very quickly.
Often vets feel helpless and have their hands tied because of economics. There are animals presented to us that we know we can fix and help but owners can’t afford it. If we help every animal by providing free care, the business will become bankrupt and we are unable then to help anyone. Discounts and offers are so popular now with facebook and other social media outlets. People expect reductions on surgeries and other procedures. Discounting means reducing the quality of service offered and putting the pet’s health at risk. We as vets spend most of our time discussing how to cut costs for owners, how to pick the best treatment for the money available, how to cover costs. We feel responsible for the animal’s health and safety and are devastated when we can’t help.
Vets are human, we have hard days, tired days, long days and horrible sad days. Sometimes our bodies hurt from busy spring days, sometimes our brains are drained from a heavy case load or sometimes our hearts are tired from being there for people. When you call we get up and go, sometimes we can’t when our other human life takes over.
Nobody went through vet college and graduated to come out the other side and not care. In college we learned perfect medicine but in reality this doesn’t exist. If I could run every test possible on a sick dog, it would be very easy. Life isn’t easy or perfect so all we can do is try our best.