Many veterinary clinics had to significantly reduce their opening times during the pandemic, which led to a deadline that was an additional burden on the already burnt-out, understaffed veterinary workforce.
“I can tell you from experience and friends of mine [clinics] have so few staff that they turn away emergencies because they lack the help, ”said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Los Angeles.
Historically, veterinarians and their assistants have had incredibly high turnover rates
One in six veterinarians thought of suicide in 2020, according to a report from the American Medical Veterinary Association. According to Bernstein, veterinarians often feel unappreciated for their work, in addition to the stress of paying off expensive student loans.
“You hear that all the time: ‘If you really love animals, you would give this group a break … you would do 100 castrations in one day and not charge anything. If you really love animals, then you wouldn’t be charging yourself for it, you’d do it because you wanted to. “And it hurts,” says Bernstein.
The solution seems simple at first: get more people into veterinary school. But Bernstein says bottom-up changes need to be made to foster bonding and support veterinarians in the workplace.
“They have all of the problems that regular doctors and nurses have plus the overlay of patients who can’t talk to them, people who treat their pets like property and don’t necessarily do follow-up exams, owners who don’t necessarily listen to their instructions Owners who have an animal euthanized. We call it “economic euthanasia” because the bill is too high and they don’t pay it. … You get all of this stuff on top of everything else that goes wrong, “says Bernstein.