Something has changed.
When I was a veterinary student, over 20 years ago, I was told that Americans considered Veterinary Medicine to be the #1 most noble profession in our nation. I felt that way too. I think all the vet students felt that way. We had to have excellent grades and test scores, work experience with animals and glowing recommendations. We gave up our 20’s spending overnights on call at the hospital and studying the latest research around the clock so that we could become the most educated doctors.
Why? Because we love animals and want to heal them. Because we want to help the people who love their pets.
For most of us, our loans far exceeded what we would make as veterinarians. In fact, after graduation, many of us had to go home to live with our parents to be able to afford to work as a vet and pay back our loans. But we did it all with pride because that was our dream.
Today, the sacrifices required to become a veterinarian are unchanged. But, the public opinion has shifted. We no longer have the title of the noblest profession in America. In a world dominated by social media, the common reprieve is that veterinarians are “just in it for the money.” And “if we love animals we would do it for free.” Our hard earned knowledge is dismissed as financially motivated. Yet, in the face of this, we are expected to be available 24 hours a day for care and consultation.
I wonder if the public is aware of how distressing this state of affairs is to Veterinarians? I wonder if they know that veterinarians actually kill themselves at a rate 2-3x higher than the general public?
It’s time to open the conversation. I know one thing for sure. We are all on the same side. Veterinarians and pet parents all want the best for animals. We want to work together with kindness and compassion to heal animals.
It’s time to heal the divide.