VETERINARY Health care workers
We here at Puget Sound Veterinary Specialists take care for the caregiver very seriously. Caregivers include our patients’ families, as well as the veterinary health care worker who is often overlooked. Veterinary health care workers include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants and veterinary client care service representatives.
Many of you may not know that the rate of anxiety, depression and suicide are alarmingly higher for veterinary health care workers than they are for other Americans. According to the CDC “[f]emale veterinarians were 3.5 times as likely, and male veterinarians were 2.1 times as likely, to die from suicide compared to the general population. Seventy-five percent of the veterinarians who died by suicide worked in a small animal practice.”
According to an AVMA study, 1 in 6 veterinarians have considered suicide since graduation and that 6.8% of male veterinarians and 10.9% of female veterinarians have serious psychological distress, compared with 3.5% of adult men and 4.4% of adult women who do not work in the veterinary community. The study also showed that 24.5% of male and 36.7% of female veterinarians have experienced depressive episodes since graduation, which is approximately 1.5 times the prevalence in US adults.
Mental health issues don’t just affect veterinarians. Burnout is cited in the NAVTA 2016 Demographics Survey as one of the top 6 most significant problems that credentialed veterinary technicians face.
Providing a work environment that addresses the well-being of our team members is the primary reason PSVS was founded. We are committed to improving the mental health of the veterinary health care team by exposing the problem, offering support to those in our field and providing much needed resources. We as veterinary health care workers entered into this field due to a love of animals, with the goal of providing quality, compassionate care. By providing a safe, supportive work environment at PSVS, we allow our teams to once again experience great joy in caring for the lives of your beloved pets.
If you are pet parent and are just as alarmed by these statistics as we are you can help. If you think your veterinarian is doing a good job, please tell him/her personally or in a card. If you’re unhappy with his/her services, please talk to him/her directly Having an open and honest conversation with the hospital medical/leadership team resolves the vast majority of issues in a timelier manner than going through digital channels. Our goal is for all parties to feel as if they have been heard.
If you or someone you care about is part of a veterinary health care team who is struggling with feelings of anxiety, sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, loneliness and/or thoughts of suicide please, please reach out to one or several of the following resources:
- Stephanie Jankowski is a social worker whose focus is the veterinary health care worker. You can speak to her privately or you can arrange to have her come speak to your team. Please see below for more information.
- Not One More Vet is an online support group for veterinarians founded by Dr. Nicole McArthur in response to the suicide of Sophia Yin. To read more about Dr. Yin please click here and here.
- The Fighting Blues for Amanda is an online support group founded in response to the suicide of veterinary technician Amanda Ryan.
- Learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to offer hope, how to get help and to save a life with QPR training.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255.
- Join the AVMA’s Veterinary Wellbeing Community.