Make sure to read Part 1 as well!
We are the only profession that has to go from an euthanasia appointment into a new puppy consult. How is the human brain supposed to deal with such an emotional rollercoaster on a daily basis?
Performing euthanasia has been linked as a contributing factor to increasing suicide risk and psychological distress in veterinarians (here and here). Frequency of euthanasia was also shown to have a weak relationship with depression. However, keep in mind that this is only one factor, and these studies suggest that “euthanasia frequency was only related to 1% of the variation in depression.”
Emotional distancing or detachment are techniques that can be used to make the above situation (and any other situation were euthanasia is performed) a little more bearable.
Bullying and Cyberbullying
While we often hear about bullying and cyberbullying in schools, veterinarians and their staff are becoming more and more affected as well due to the presence of the internet and social media.
Cyberbullying (or cyber harassment), according to U.S. Legal Definitions, is the use of email, instant messaging, and derogatory websites to bully or otherwise harass an individual or group through personal attacks. Both bullying and cyberbullying can be used to threaten, embarrass, or frighten, and can even result in physical harm to its victims and greatly affect a business and/or professional reputation.
How many of us can say that we have never heard the phrases “you’re in it for the money”, “I’m sure this will make you even richer”, “you don’t care about my pet”. Probably no one. And any of these comments can easily be taken online and lead to a huge wave of criticism and unfounded evidence against us personally or the practices we work for. In some cases, it can lead to severe mental health problems and even suicide.
Even if there is evidence that a medical error or malpractice occurred, bullying is simply NEVER acceptable. Take a look at these great resources from stopbullying.gov, NIH, AVMA 1 & 2 and by Dr. Marie Holowaychuk on her blog.
It is well known that most veterinarians have a poor work-life balance. Poor work-life balance, in addition to the daily stress we’re faced with, can impact our quality of life.
We often spend too much time at work, which obviously takes time away from our families, significant others and pets. We’re also not good at leaving work at work, and usually bring it home with us. Our brain never truly disconnects from our sick patients, difficult clients, or the paperwork we still have lying on our desks.
Achieving work-life balance (or at least improving it) is one of the ways to achieve career and personal satisfaction. This involves, among other things, learning how to prioritize needs (both at work and in personal life) and developing strategies to become more efficient and save time on daily tasks.
Don’t miss out on the links at the bottom of this post that can help with learning to create better work-life balance.
Moral or Ethical Dilemmas in the Workplace
Who hasn’t been in the situation of having to euthanize a pet for a treatable disease, or where appropriate diagnostics and treatment were declined? Sometimes these decisions come down to owner finances, but other times they don’t. It is very difficult to be put in a situation where you feel trapped by an owner’s decision, or you know you could have done more. Sometimes these issues depend on point of view, and neither you nor the owner are wrong. However, there are some cases in which you must take a stand based upon your own moral compass, or the oath we all swore when we graduated. Even when you know you’re doing the right thing, it can still put you under an enormous amount of stress.
If you are ever in a situation in which you feel an animal is being harmed, please report it immediately. This is an excellent resource from the AVMA on the role of veterinarians in reporting animal abuse.
Student loans and credit card debt
With some veterinarians graduating with $250,000 to $300,000 in student loan debt (and sometimes even more), deb-to-income ratio can certainly be an immense stressor. With an average annual income of $73,380 for new graduates in 2016, it will take many years to pay off student loans. And when credit card debt is added to the picture, the financial situation of veterinarians appears even gloomier.
It is certainly useful to hire a certified public accountant and/or financial advisor in order to help you manage your finances and debt load. Set yourself up for financial success!
The topics listed in this post are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they supposed to represent definitive guides on each topic.
The information we have provided is meant to be starting point to raise awareness, as well as to encourage you to take steps in order to improve your quality of life! We get to help so many families and so many pets that we deserve our own wellbeing!
Don’t miss out on these amazing resources!
AVMA Wellbeing and Peer Assistance
Dr. Marie Holowaychuk’s blog – a board certified criticalist with a vested interest on the health and wellness on the veterinary profession.
VetGirl, created by two board certified criticalists, also has posts on wellness, among may other resources and CE
Our own post on Compassion Fatigue
VetLife, a great resource for help if you’re in the UK, but with great links to even more information on the above subjects
Feel free to discuss and comment below or on social media! You can find us on Facebook @vetmedsurvivalguide and Twitter @VMsurvivalguide
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