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I proceed to read more on VIN, check email, and respond to some personal messages that have been in queue for the majority of the day. I sign on to my student loan website and pay my monthly statement for obtaining my veterinary education….
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Being a veterinarian is not glamorous. It is often an ugly, depressing, heart-wrenching job. To say that it is stressful is a gross understatement. Sure, come on over! Just walk on in to the hospital unannounced and get seen immediately, meanwhile completely disrupting the schedule of appointments for the remainder of the day!
People forget that our hearts break when we see an animal who is suffering, knowing there is little we can do to save them because the owner waited too long to get them into the hospital. We lose sleep over the cases of abuse and neglect that we see. The forced smiles on our faces to prevent clients from knowing that we just euthanized a pet moments beforehand are painful to put on. And to those who are veterinarians in the making: Expect to work long hours, not get a lunch, and stay late after work. Expect to witness a lot of very sad and depressing cases. Because I can handle the bad and cherish the good.
Because I believe that, in the long run, I can improve the education level of my clients and the quality of life of my patients. Where is the new statistics that we veterinarians have surpassed the dentists for highest suicidal rate? I work at a Veterinary Hospital in San Francisco and many this Veterinarians problems seem to stem from poor practice management.
She was overbooked, which is inexcusable. People receptionists were interrupting her during surgery, also unacceptable. She seems to not have a hang on clinic flow and client relations, the Veterinarians that I work with are never 10 patients behind. That is due to the Front of the house management as well. Do no over book a doctor that is also involved with multiple procedures in that day. This Veterinarian just needs to find a practice with better management, then maybe she with stop complaining.
You missed the point. I work in a county of over , people and, at that time, there were a grand total of 5 veterinary hospitals serving the area.
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We are going to be busy by the very nature of our location. That leaves me and my fellow cohorts at surrounding clinics to see these people and their pets. My receptionists are not to blame; they attempt to call routine appointments to reschedule them when things get out of hand with sick appointments.
Sometimes owners answer their phone, and sometimes they do not. On this particular day, no one was able to reschedule. I suggest you read them. Multitasking is what we do, and I am not so holy as to be unavailable to talk to my staff during my surgery time if I am able. If you find my account of that day too hard, then you really do need to reconsider veterinary school.
There are more clinics that are akin to my facility than not. This blog is not complaining- it is reality. I just had a day like this today. I am taxed emotionally and physically and I get to do it all again tomorrow. If you truly think you get to practice in an ivory tower where you are never behind, never get interrupted in surgery, never have upset clients, never have to stay late to write up charts and never stay up late worrying about a case like I will tonight about a cystotomy , then you need to become a human dermatologist not a veterinarian.
I applaud the author for the reality check. This is my life. I love my job, my patients and my clients well, most of them. Yes management issues occur everywhere but the chaos of everyday practice, of serving your clients and doing your best every day, lends to crazy days and sleepless nights. Oh — it is a fact that veterinarians now have the highest suicide rate of any profession. I have lost 3 friends in the last 5 years. So before making such an insensitive comment, please do your research.
The suicide stats are not bogus. Yes, the appts piled up and people chose to wait rather than be rescheduled. Yesterday I put 3 pets to sleep, 2 of whom I had been seeing since they were 8 weeks old. The buck stops with the Dr. I have been on both sides of the fence. Anyone who tells you differently is wrong. I have been in practice for over 30 years and currently own 2 small animal practices. Instead of being holier than thou perhaps you should take some time and read some Veterinary journals. Go look it up, it will be an eye opener. Kate your comments suggest that you should seriously reconsider veterinary medicine as a career choice.
The staff miss lunches and work overtime to care for these clients and their pets-sometimes fitting emergency surgery into the schedule too. Another solution is to try to have 2 veterinarians and extra staff working every day of the week-especially on weekends which are often busier. Protocols and rules are the norm and if your pets gets hit by a car and one of these other hospitals has no Appts available- well you are out of luck. It adds one more layer of stress that anyone considering becoming a veterinarian should think long and hard about — this career requires long hours, great sacrifice and a huge heart and pays very little.
There are opportunities for less Stressful work within the profession but for me personally, the aspects of veterinary medicine that burn me out and stress me the most are also the most fullfilling and the reasons I became a veterinarian. I, too, am a vet in a busy practice. Reading these posts was cathartic. As for our practice, we are one of three in the community and have gotten extremely busy in the past few years. Our appointments are booked at least 2 weeks out, but our walk-in business often trumps our appointments no kidding.
Our receptionists are not allowed per my boss, the owner and signer of my paycheck technically, to turn clients away, though they can make suggestions as to better times to fit people in or shuffling routine vaccines to the next few weeks. I, personally, do not want to turn clients away with a legitimate problem, and it is not feasible or ethical to ask someone to schedule for next week with an animal that may have a potentially serious issue like vomiting and diarrhea for days, distended abdomen, etc.
We are also the hospital that everyone comes to when their own vet turns them down for their own emergencies because, for some reason, they cannot see their own. That, then, means that if we find an ear infection or a heart murmur, we need to take time to discuss things, then to do diagnostics if agreed upon, which then takes up more time. This was yet another 15 minute time slot that stretched to 30 to 45 minutes after diagnostics and further client consult.
Try going to your human ENT for an ear exam and them even caring whether or not you were limping around the office. My husband has been ill but recovering for the past year after never having had to go to a doctor and the more I deal with human doctors, the more frustrated I get with our clients expectations with our skills and profession.
I do love my job, but why is it that if I miss an enlarged prostate when your dog is in for congestive heart failure, that I am crucified? All I can say is that I signed up for this and I do love my job, as stressful as it may be at times. As for the clients who are understanding and appreciative and patient or do little things like bring in food and coffee, I wholeheartedly thank you all. You are absolutely oblivious to the truth…. The bigger the hospital, the worse it is.
The suicide rate is real, and her blog post is the most accurate depiction of a typical day than I have ever seen. Maybe you should look at another career path, but before you do, maybe you should get some more experience and compassion. Ok, pre- vet student, come back here in 10 years when you have walked the walk. Until then, you have no right to make comments. I have worked in a 13 doctor practice and had days like this. Oh yeah, way to disparage your possible future colleague…not sure I want you as mine. Whoa Katie, this is what vet practices are like.
People have sick animals and will just walk on in and expect to be seen disrupting the rest of the schedule. If you want to turn away critical patients more power to you but most vet clinics wont do it. Over booking is another fact of life. People turn up late and still expect to be seen. Again should this be the case? Do I walk out of horrible euthanasias, smile and walk into kitten vaccinations all bright and happy.
Because no one wants to see a sad vet. Nothing on handling grieving or difficult clients. Nothing on handling your own stresses or those of your co-workers. Oh, Katie, the veterinary assistant who is an expert on clinic management!
You need to re-evaluate your career choice if you could even get into vet school. Also, if you are feeling discouraged them this field may not be for you, it is better to find out now than to find out after the student loans. Hopefully you will be able to make the best decision for you based on the new perspective you have gained. I do hope that you will graduate from vet school and be able to experience everything that the author has described. As a veterinarian 9 years out, having worked both GP and ER, I can say that her experience is accurate.
Make sure you go into it with your eyes open. My daughter is wanting to become a vet. I wonder how typical this experience is. I bet that it is a common occurrence but how does it hold up across the country. It depends entirely on the clinic your child works at. I work at a clinic that is probably fairly average and we have days like this doctor outlined probably once a week.
Regardless of how busy we are, the doctors who already work 10 hour shifts almost always end up staying late. Many vets work hour work weeks. Emergency hospitals and larger clinics are often more busy and more stressful. I recommend that your child ask to job shadow a local vet to see what things are like. This also looks really good on college applications, particularly for getting into vet school. They are more likely to accept someone who has a realistic view on what being a vet is like. You need a tough skin to work in an animal clinic, but working with animals can be very rewarding.
I work in a smaller community, and every single comment holds true for my office as well. As a vet tech, my 8 hr. I expect to wait on average 20 minutes or longer waiting to see a doctor, but in veterinary medicine people often have the expectation of being seen with out wait, weather or not they were even on time. The human equivalent to our level of education is normally double or more. My wife is a vet and this is pretty spot on. I would say seeing 30 patients in a day is high and her old clinic was very busy but the bouncing around and diagnosing, doing surgery and trying to manage patient care dictated by owners ability to pay is very hard compared to working with humans who are insured, doctors who work in speciality areas and will more likely take the advice.
My wife misses lunches often and works late nights and stress levels are very high. She is at work after 7 many nights writing her soaps and calling back clients. Upon coming home she is physically and emotionally whooped and after a day of highs and lows, dealing with life, death and constantly walking that line of taking care of the needs of the patient and working with how much an owner can afford we need her to be there for us as well and she always pushes through.
To everyone else treat them with respect, listen and understand they went to school for a long time to protect the well being of their pets. I too am the husband of a vet, and can vouch for the accuracy of this. We cannot go anywhere in public with someone seeing us and asking for assistance on a sick animal. Just this week, I have had 4 of my own co-workers text me, two of which were when I was in bed sleeping, asking me to ask my wife something for them. They are not even clients. She has been a vet for the past 15 years, and it has always been this way, but it is far worse today than it has ever been.
Please respect your vet and their time away from their job, it is their time with their family and a time to reset so that they can come back and provide the best possible care to your lovable fur babies. I spend a lot of my non work time worrying about patients. Did I make the right diagnosis? Did I make the best recommendations? Did I choose the right treatment?
Could I have done more? Most of my sleepless nights are because I worry…. And worry… And worry. So then I start reading and researching my cases. Before I know it, I have to be awake in three hours. Thank you for sharing your story. The more experienced volunteers like me are often given the opportunity to assist our vet and work with some really tough medical and behavioral cases. I see how worn out our staff gets and truly appreciate all vets and vet techs for everything you do on a daily basis.
Thank you for all that you do and all that you sacrifice to do it. Yet like you, they continue to do what they do day in and day out. Thank you for doing what you do and for sacrificing all you sacrifice to do it. Kelly W, Jacksonville, FL. Ever since I knew what a veterinarian was I wanted to be one. I was a vet tech in high school and in college. Those experiences changed my mind on that desire, because everything written above is so very true. I truly miss that job, it was my passion, maybe someday I will go back.
Veterinarians and their techs too are under appreciated for all they endure-mentally, physically and emotionally. Thank you for all that you do!!! You sound very much on the verge of serious burnout, if not there already. Please consider one of these suggestions: Talk with the practice owner about scheduling problems that leave you as the only veterinarian covering the clinic.
Seek another employment situation, where there are enough clinicians to cover the appointments and walk-ins. Teach the front desk staff to say NO! Lack of respect for your schedule equates to lack of respect for you, the clients, the patients, and the technicians.
There must be other options for referring non-scheduled patients, such as a local 24 hour clinic. If you truly wish to continue in this line of work, you need to make some significant changes — and soon! But you know what? I graduated from vet school 38 years ago and have been involved in many aspects of this profession. There were no 24 hour referral practices at that time. After working all day, I would get awakened once or twice a night with an emergency which sometimes would require me to go back to the hospital.
Sometimes the emergency would require that I stay there the remainder of the night to care for a critically ill patient, then having to start the next day with abbreviated sleep, no shower, no breakfast, and in the same clothes. I lasted 18 months like this before burn out consumed me. This was no way to live. Well our quality of life matters too. It is impossible to see 30 patients in a 5 hour time period and still do a thorough job. I schedule 20 min appointments in my office 3 per hour per vet and even then we sometimes get behind. There is something seriously wrong with the organization and management of this hospital that allows this They need more vets, or fewer appointments, or a new manager.
Depending on the practice and number of vets employed, you can be on call 24 hours a day, up to seven days a week. I have been called out of weddings and funerals by clients. Large animals are dangerous and often difficult to handle. One of our vets recently had her leg broken my a clients horse, another left on vacation, leaving me as the 24 hour, on-call vet for the clinic for the next 10 days. One of my best friends permanently destroyed his shoulder and his back working with large animals.
He lives in pain now.
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I sympathize with what you ate going through, hang in there. I think in some ways it is worse in large animal. You have to be available at odd hours, weekends, holidays. Internships are terribly exhausting and you are basically glorified slave labor. I really enjoyed what I did daily in my appointments but my quality of life was horrible. I would go months without seeing my friends. I had to say no to everything. I will also have to move away from family to get a job in equine, which for the last 2 years of my life have been the only true sources of happiness for me.
Its a hard decision. I feel cheated, discouraged and lost all the time.
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You get put into a box and finding opportunities outside of academia to explore the profession is difficult. Thank you for being honest about whats going on. Thank you for this article. I manage a practice and I am highly cognizant of the daily struggles. There are high expectations placed upon our shoulders and often not enough awareness to the limitations we face that makes those expectations difficult to achieve.
People in other professions routinely refuse to do this. Eventually they will stop asking you and will go to or call their vet instead like they should anyway. But it leads to people taking advantage and not getting the help where they should. And also people do not respect you or your advice as much bc it was free. Another thing even though you type fast I bet speech to type would be faster once you get used to it and that you can do while you are doing other things, household chores, driving carefully.
Good luck and maybe you should take a week and go away for a seminar on new research etc.
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That always helped me. Put a cap on the number of patients you can see per day. Walk away from people that are being irrational. You cannot provide adequate care to your patients if your are stressed and rushing from one to the next. Take control of the situation.
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As a client, I would be furious if asked to wait for even half an hour beyond my appointment time. Do you think vets are the only people with busy schedules? I do not have time for that, which is why I made an appointment in the first place! Emergencies come up, and delays will happen, but wherever it is avoidable, it is your responsibility to avoid it. If you cannot do the above at your current practice, quit and get a job at a practice with better controls in place. Life is too short. Why do vets have that expectation and physicians get a pass for being overbooked?
That double standard is not fair. We work harder because we need to in order to survive and pay the bills. I have been a practicing vet for 25 years. I have some advice for you. Quit that clinic, they are overworking you. Go to work for yourself if you need to. Find your own set of priorities and ethics. Do not tolerate overly demanding clients. At the end of the day its you and your family. If you persist in working this way it may just be you. Its taken a long time and I think I have most of it figured out.
I still love my job and my patients. Often I even like their humans,. She was not an owner. She decided to be a part time vet. These vets really do get pushed beyond the normal limits. Yet, they are so compassionate in never leaving a pet behind. A lot of these vets are far more passionate than human doctors! This was a beautiful, but sad post. Thank you so much for speaking up. If a person is considering veterinary school, they should consider some form of preventative care for themselves. Other than euthanasia, pretty much sums up a day in the life of a pediatrician.
I left medicine at age 50…… It was killing me. Oh, not all doctors make big bucks these days, pediatrics is at the bottom of the food chain. Reblogged this on Vatican Cameos and commented: Thanks for your honesty. That predisposition, coupled with the pressures we put upon ourselves to meet often unrealistic expectations often well-beyond those we are trying to help to perform flawlessly along with outside real pressures from coworkers, clients and employers and a failure to self-care adequately, leads to a feeling of emptiness, withdrawal, isolation, depression and yes, a depth of despair that may have one believe that life is simply not worth living.
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