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Suicide In the Veterinary Field

by Shelley Wenger 12 days ago in vet

It's More Common Than You Think

Photo by Canva

September is Suicide Awareness Month and, though it often brings to mind teenagers who feel like they have no other choice, the truth is that it is out there. Many people think about committing suicide, while several go through with it. It doesn't matter their age, sex, or career.

That being said, it happens a lot in the veterinary field. In fact, you may have seen the acronyms NOMV floating around Facebook and other social media sites. It stands for Not One More Vet. The veterinary field is filled with suicides. In fact, just today when I opened my Facebook, I saw that we lost another veterinarian this way.

This shouldn’t happen, but the truth is that the veterinary field is very overwhelmed lately. Suicide may seem like the only way out.

So, why is suicide so high in the veterinary field? Here are some things that you need to know about the field.

We are working hard, with what we have. The veterinary field is like every other field right now, understaffed and overworked. In fact, my clinic has been trying to hire someone for almost a year. We schedule interviews, but they never bother showing up. Why would they, when they can make more on unemployment than they do working as hard as they do? When we do find someone who may fit right in, they don’t want the job, or they just never return our calls.

Everyone got a new pet over quarantine. Though it may not be true, it definitely feels like everyone bought a new puppy or kitten while they were stuck at home. I have never seen so many puppies and kittens being brought into the clinic since I first started! There are also plenty of adoptions.

Everyone has too much time on their hands. I feel like everyone has too much time on their hands. Especially in the beginning, people wanted to talk to you for twenty minutes, just to make an appointment or get advice, simply because they hadn’t talked to anyone in weeks! I never talked to people on the phone as much as I did when Covid started.

People are also home noticing things about their pets. A cough, which they would have missed because they were working, sounds awful all day long. If you were busy working, you may not have noticed that your dog gets lost in your home. However, when you are there with him or her, you may notice that he or she spends hours staring into the corner.

Dr. Google isn’t always the best source of information. Neither is your Facebook community. That being said, I used to offer my advice, but it is no longer warranted. People would rather Google it to figure out what is wrong, then ask a professional. Their friends are also the right people to ask. They know exactly what is going on, am I right?

The truth is that, when people use Dr. Google, they either come in knowing what is wrong and what medication their pet needs, or they wait until it has gone on for WAY too long!

“We are just in it for the money.” I am SO, SO tired of hearing this phrase. If they only had any idea how much we REALLY make. And I am also talking about the veterinarians. Running a hospital costs a LOT of money, so your veterinarian isn’t making as much as you think, especially if she is as good as my vet. She spends every evening researching and trying to figure out what is going on. She definitely doesn't get paid enough (for the hours that she puts in)!

We also get yelled out, when you can’t come in RIGHT away! Our schedule is busier than it ever has been. In fact, you used to be able to call and come in within a day or two, no matter what you need to have done.

If your pet was sick (vomiting, had an ear infection, etc.), we probably could find a spot to put you in that day. Now, we are filled weeks in advance. Even when we try to keep a few slots open for urgent problems that call that day, we just can’t see them all. There are days when we can’t squeeze one more patient in, and you are going to bet someone is going to call and yell about it.

I don’t know the last time that I left work within a half an hour after closing. Some nights I am there for an hour or two after we close!

Though you may think that all I do is play with puppies and kittens all day, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Though this year, there is a significant amount of them, there are even more older pets that need my attention. There is also never enough help when you need it. I could use another (well-trained) person almost every day, but I just keep plugging away because I have to! You guys depend on me and on my entire team.

vet

Shelley Wenger

Small town country girl in southern Pennsylvania. Raising two boys on a small farm filled with horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, dogs, and a cat. Certified veterinary technician and writer at Virtually Shelley.

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