Paw pub­lic per­cep­tion

High pres­sure and con­fronting en­vi­ron­ment has vets de­clin­ing

Daily Mercury - - NEWS - NICK WRIGHT [email protected]­ly­mer­cury.com.au

THE daunt­ing stresses and anx­i­eties as­so­ci­ated with the vet­eri­nary sciences has cast a spot­light on the chal­lenges within the pro­fes­sion, with vet­eri­nar­i­ans much more likely to take their own life.

While health care pro­fes­sion­als have long been prom­i­nent among in­dus­try sui­cide rates, the con­cern­ing reg­u­lar­ity es­ca­lates among vets who are four times more likely than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion to take their life; ac­cord­ing to a study avail­able on the Aus­tralian Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion’s web­site.

A wealth of is­sues have seem­ingly con­trib­uted to this; in­clud­ing stress, the emo­tional tur­moil of vet­eri­nary clients and the man­ner in which they deal with the loss of a pet.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Dr Paul McGe­own, of North­ern Beaches Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal, a preva­lent fac­tor is the per­cep­tion of the in­dus­try by the pub­lic and the fi­nan­cial angst that comes with vet­eri­nary prac­tice, and peo­ple needed to be aware of the im­pact that mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion can have.

“We deal a lot with the pub­lic not be­ing happy, think­ing we’re try­ing to rip them off, when really all we care about is the wel­fare of the an­i­mal.

“At the end of the day it’s a busi­ness that needs to be run and money keeps it go­ing,” Dr McGe­own said.

“Peo­ple tend to for­get our medicine is sub­sidised by Medi­care, so what they pay is not ac­tu­ally what is paid to doc­tors whereas in vet­eri­nary there are no sub­si­dies.

“I don’t think a lot of peo­ple are aware sui­cide rates are so high in vet­eri­nary pro­fes­sions (and) I don’t think they un­der­stand the emo­tional side of deal­ing with the pub­lic.”

Mackay GP Dr John McIn­tosh, whose ex­per­tise in men­tal health in­spired the Tuf Minds ap­pli­ca­tion, re­it­er­ated fi­nan­cial stress as a monumental is­sue, and said the strong emo­tional at­tach­ment peo­ple have to their an­i­mals plays a fac­tor in the con­fronta­tion vets ex­pe­ri­ence from their clients.

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