Being a Vet is Hard

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Doctors 2017I am writing this blog post in honour of the 7 fabulous vets I work with.  I have worked at ANVC for 14 years now and daily, their dedication to their profession amazes me.  I want people to consider all that goes in to a great veterinary team and dedicated, talented veterinarians.  It certainly isn’t all about the money – ask anyone who works in the field, you do this job for the love of animals, for your dedication to their health and well-being.

Let’s look at things from a general perspective – in order for a veterinary hospital to operate at its highest ability it needs a strong foundation.  First you need a location and equipment – state of the art to keep on top of all that changes in medicine.  You need supplies to deal with every situation, foods, medications, etc.    Second you need an amazing team – you need licensed registered veterinary technologists who are skilled and knowledgeable. You need customer service representatives who are friendly and talented when it comes to the people side, to ensure the human side of your patients are taken care of.  You need excellent kennel assistants with an eye for detail to keep everything clean and pristine, and you need a strong management team to lead and guide the crew.

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But before all of that, you need YEARS of education.  Vet school is 4 years, before that you need a minimum of 2 years pre-vet, most end up with a 4 year degree before moving on to vet school, 8 years of educational dedication…8 years of student debt.  Beyond the years of university there is required continuing education (both for veterinarians and for technologists) and there is often areas of strong interest and skill that veterinarians and techs wish to further develop, further gain knowledge in, further build their abilities.  Conferences, seminars, training, it all takes time and has a cost.

Now imagine if you will the view from the vet’s perspective.  You have patients that can’t talk, they can’t verbally tell you what is bothering them, where it hurts, how they feel.  Instead a veterinarian needs to be able to distinguish these things based on what the owners tell them and what clues (sometimes ever so subtle) they find during their physical exam.  Sometimes it is a small indicator, something undetected by the owner completely.  Sometimes it is knowing what to “feel” in the abdomen, in the neck, along the spine, the joints, etc.  Sometimes it is the movement, the subtle turn of a patient’s head as they come to the exact spot of discomfort.  Sometimes the problem is obvious and a solution and treatment plan easily created… sometimes it is not.  Now imagine the anguish a vet feels when they don’t have the answers, when they aren’t sure what is going on with their patient.  They spend countless hours consulting with the other veterinarians of their team, countless hours researching, seeking answers.  Imagine doing everything you can and having that not be enough…

Now imagine beyond even all that, imagine the highs and the lows associated with the joys and sorrows of veterinary medicine.  Many patients will have spent their entire lifetime at one clinic – there is the joy of meeting a puppy or kitten for the first time.  The joy of watching them grow.  Then, just like you are attached to your pet (they are family after all), the veterinarians too are attached to their patients, so as they age, or become sick, they feel the pain and anguish that comes with that.  Imagine having to do that final injection on a dear patient, consoling the family, feeling the hurt too and the heartache of losing someone dear then needing to compose yourself and move on to the next patient.  Imagine a day where there are 2 or 3 such situations for you.  Imagine the feelings of the entire team where an unfortunately all too common occurrence can be dealing with 5 such scenarios in a day.  Our hearts ache, we all feel the loss and sorrow, the hurt and the pain, but we don’t get the time to deal with that anguish and grief through our day, there are always more clients and more patients who need us.

Consider for a moment how important it is for you to find that right veterinary hospital for your pet and all that is important to you and consider how at ANVC we do all we can to be that team.  We work hard, we are dedicated, we take client feedback and work to change and adjust and implement different systems and policies to be the very best we can.  We put ourselves through AAHA inspections and follow the guidelines very closely to be the absolute best in our field.  Our mission statement is important to us – so important it is in giant letters on a wall in our clinic – our mission is to provide outstanding and compassionate care to our patients.  Our team dedicates every day to this and at the heart of it all – our veterinarians.

So consider them and all they go through and take a moment this holiday season to thank your vets and their team for their hard work, passion and dedication to this field.  A field that can be so rewarding and so heart-wrenching all in the same breath.

Christmas 2018