What you might not know about your veterinary team

We know how important our veterinary professionals are for many of us, and for our pets! And if you have a veterinarian (and their team!) who has been there for your pet for issues big and small, you can’t imagine what you would do without them. CARE has always advocated and advised dog parents to check with their veterinarian before trying any new supplement, exercise routine, or anything that might affect their pet’s immediate or long-term health. 

That is why CARE is proud to support Not One More Vet (NOMV), a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the profession so veterinary professionals can survive and thrive through education, resources, and support.

The below is a guest post from NOMV about some of the struggles veterinary professionals are facing today and a few simple things you can do that will make a world of difference to the people who care for your pets. 

Guest post from NOMV

For most of us, our pet’s veterinarian is an important part of our lives. But it isn’t just the doctor who takes care of their health, it’s also the vet techs, nurses, and front desk staff who snuggle our pets during appointments, give them treats, and offer them comfort. It’s the bookkeeper who makes sure to get us everything we need to submit our insurance claims. It’s the helpful practice manager who goes outside his job description to carry the prescription food to our car. The entire veterinary team is a part of our lives. We couldn’t imagine our pet’s life without them.

But many of them are suffering…

Despite the smiling faces that provide us and our pets so much comfort, the stress of long, hard days, little time-off, crippling student debt, and dealing with pet parents who are frustrated or upset can take its toll.

And that’s all before you factor in the pandemic.

Curbside care has created a new layer of stress for pet parents that gets transferred to their care team. Illness and virtual school have created teams with staff shortages, resulting in overworked, exhausted people concerned about their own health and that of their families but still showing up to work to take care of pets whose parents can often be frustrated and take that frustration out on the veterinary team.

The startling reality is that one in six veterinarians consider suicide at some point in their careers. And as daunting as that sounds, the statistics are even worse for veterinary technicians.

Not One More Vet is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the profession so veterinary professionals can survive and thrive through education, resources, and support. They provide veterinary professionals with a number of resources designed to improve their wellbeing and prevent suicide including:

  • a large peer-support network of over 30,000 veterinary professionals;
  • a robust education program focused on wellness;
  • a support grant program that assists struggling veterinary professionals who find themselves in significantly dire financial situations;
  • and research to seek solutions to the crisis in the veterinary field.

How did things get like this?

If you’re wondering why veterinary professionals are in this position, you aren’t alone. The reasons are complex, and not one answer fits every one of course, but there a few things we can point to:

  1. Overwhelming Debt: For veterinarians, this begins with up to 12 years of specialized school followed by low-paying starter positions. For veterinary support staff, it often also means some schooling coupled with low wages.
  2. The Stress of Saving Lives: Veterinary professionals do what they do because they care, deeply. Your vet team cries with you, holds your hand, and walks with you through all your emotions. Then they go into the next room and do it all over again.
  3. Cost of Care: Veterinary care is not viewed the same way human medical care is, despite similar educational requirements and costs. An MRI machine that scans cats and dogs is not cheaper than one that scans humans. Yet many people are upset and angered by veterinary bills, taking their frustration out on the team that cared for their pet.
  4. Cyberbullying: In the last few years, we’ve seen an uptick in vicious attacks to service providers and businesses online. Unlike many others, veterinary professionals cannot defend themselves with facts to dispute incorrect accusations because of confidentiality requirements. The emotional toll can be great. According to one survey, one in five veterinarians considered leaving the profession following a cyberbullying incident.

How you can help

So if you’re thinking: what can I do to help? We have a few suggestions:

  1. Be kind to your veterinary teams. Thank them. Send them a card or flowers. Bring a tin of cookies next time you go in.
  2. Raise awareness about what veterinary professionals are going through. Post on social media about what a great job your veterinary team is doing. Post about the importance of taking the cost of care into consideration when getting a pet. Support veterinary teams when you see cyberbullying.
  3. Donate your time or money to Not One More Vet. You can learn more at nomv.org

Thank you for taking the time to appreciate the everyday heroes who keep our pets healthy and give them better lives.