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Discussing the Mental Health Crisis in Veterinary Medicine

Did you know that 1 in 6 veterinarians contemplate taking their own life? Did you know that veterinary medicine holds the fourth spot for the highest suicide rates among professions?

It's not all puppies and kittens and beautiful experiences. There are sick animals, and difficult decisions have to be made daily. Your veterinarian deals with the mental toll of those decisions daily. The veterinarian's oath that must be sworn in as part of the new veterinary class states: ' I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.'- seems like a pretty hefty burden for just one profession?

Northside's Team of Veterinarians - Dr Wood, Dr Van Zant, and Dr Roth

Mental health is a crisis that has been a part of the veterinary profession for far too long and has been exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic. People join the veterinary profession with one thing in mind- to save and help animals. Not One More Vet (NOMV) was founded in October 2014 after the suicide of world-renowned veterinarian Dr. Sophia Yin. Now NOMV has over 20,000 veterinary professionals who regularly use their support forms to deal with mental health crises. Veterinary teams are challenged with routine care of small and large animals to challenging cases, surgeries, terminal diagnoses, and euthanasia. Working with pets, you often experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Unsurprisingly, there are many challenges facing the veterinary profession, causing a workforce shortage from individuals leaving the field due to burnout/compassion fatigue, financial reasons, retirement, and sadly death by suicide.

Compassion fatigue is hard on all animal professionals- from the veterinarians to the assistants and kennel staff. When we form a relationship with you as a client, we also develop a relationship with your pet. As medical professionals, "take on the burden" of the ill or dying patient. As a veterinarian, we have to deliver bad news to clients, deal with animal cruelty, and see clients struggle to balance financial needs with the needs of their pets, as well as euthanasia.

Dog in Cone

You may wonder- 'Why doesn't my veterinarian have an appointment today? My dog/cat is sick!' We would love to see your pet as soon as possible. Still, with the increasing number of companion animals in the U.S. and the decreasing amount of veterinarians- we are struggling to fit everyone in! Only 32 accredited veterinary colleges are in the U.S., and about 3,000 veterinarians graduate yearly.

Only some people choose the path of companion animals or to practice; others go into research or large animal. The sad fact is that there aren't enough veterinary professionals in the U.S. to cover the pet population.

It comes down to an increased demand for care and a decrease in veterinary professionals. Next time you demand that you get in for an appointment as soon as possible- please be aware that there may be an animal that staff is performing emergency surgery on. Every day, your veterinarian and their staff try to see all the patients needing their care.

Please remember to be kind. There is only one reason people choose to become veterinarians: to help animals.

For more information regarding Not One More Vet (NOMV)'s mission, click here



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