Thursday, March 29, 2018

How's Your Vet Feeling? Young Vets Are Stressed, Study Finds

Young vets are stressed, study shows.
How's your vet feeling today?  If she's stressed, she has lots of company. A study by Merck Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Association found that young vets are stressed, mainly by college debt.

The study looked at the mental health of 3500 vets nationwide. It found that the overall mental health of veterinarians is in line with the general population. But they experience more stress, or have a lower quality of life, than people in other professions.

Why Vets Are Stressed 

Seems like spending your workdays dealing with cranky cats and over-protective people would be stressful enough. Add to that the worry of paying off huge college loans, and it's no wonder young vets are stressed. According to the Veterinary Information Network Foundation, in 2016, the total cost of attending vet school at a public university for four years ranged from $147,000-$250,000 for in-state students. Non-resident tuition was $191,000-$338,000. Tuition at private universities was $264,000-$393,000.

When they graduate, the VIN Foundation says, new veterinarians can expect to earn between $50,000-$70,000 a year, depending on the practice type and species they treat. Veterinarians who care for food animals earn more than vets who see cats and dogs. Men earn slightly more than women.

Most young vets will need 20-30 years to repay their student loans. And while the starting salaries may sound high, physicians and people in other advanced professions earn more.

"For many generations of veterinarians, the positives of the profession far outweighed the negatives," the VIN Foundation says. "But the past two decades have seen significant increases in educational costs without a comparable increase in salaries.

"The hours can be long, the physical effort grueling, and the emotional impact of treating ill and injured animals daily can be difficult. While salaries vary widely, veterinarians rarely become wealthy"

Still, the VIN Foundation says, "the emotional and intellectual rewards of veterinary medicine are rich and diverse." And maybe even more important than money, "it offers unparalleled opportunities to celebrate the human-animal bond and contribute to the welfare of humans and animals."

Clients Are Stressed, Too

Vets are stressed, but clients are, too. They worry about the high cost of health care for their cats.
While vets are stressed by college loans and the everyday pressures of their job, clients are stressed, too. They worry about the high cost of veterinary care. Cats don't always get the care they need because it can be so expensive.

But running an animal hospital is a business, and that business needs to be profitable to survive. And, of course, you want your vet to have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment.

While the industry seeks solutions to the vets' stress and potential burnout, I might have some solutions for you. Here are some ways to make veterinary care more affordable and to get help with vet bills.

Your vet will probably understand that you need to save money where you can. After all, she's probably pinching pennies, too.

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