Becoming a veterinarian is a lifelong goal for those who go through the proper education and training. It’s a profession filled with loving and caring for your four-legged patients as well as their families. However, choosing to be a veterinarian certainly has its share of bad days.
There will be patients that don’t get better. You’ll likely see some severe cases of abuse and neglect. And you’ll sometimes second guess your diagnosis or treatment plan. Unfortunately, all of this comes with the territory of being a caring human being. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you preserve your mental health in vet med.
The Statistics of Mental Health in Vet Med
According to a study from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. While more research needs to be done in order to pinpoint the exact reasons for this uptick in mental health concerns, experts suggest that it is likely a combination of day-to-day sadness that comes with the job and possibly the financial burden that comes with seeking a veterinarian degree.
It’s important that people are aware of this increased risk so that you may be better prepared for how you can protect your mental health as you are faced with the daily challenges of caring for animals.
How You Can Protect Yourself
To preserve your mental health in vet med, you have to learn to prioritize your well-being. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Take plenty of breaks: Mental and physical breaks are critical. Make sure that you take a moment to yourself, especially on those challenging days. It’s important that you are properly staffed so that veterinarians and staff may take breaks as needed.
Talk about challenges: If you or your staff has gone through a particularly challenging incident, it’s important to debrief. Talk about how you feel and the strengths and weaknesses of the team so that you can be better prepared for the future. It’s important to remember that not all situations can be remedied with education or training, and you must create a safe space to accept the things that you can’t control.
Celebrate the successes: Some days will be incredibly hard, and there is no avoiding that. That’s why it’s valuable to celebrate your successes when you can heal a family’s beloved pet. There are some really hard days in vet med, but also some really rewarding days, too. Don’t lose sight of how your skills matter and make life better for your patients and their families.
A Name You Can Trust
At IVPA, we believe that small and private veterinary practices should have the fulfillment that comes with independent ownership. If you’d like to join us, please reach out to us today to learn more about what we do and how it could benefit you and your practice.