Vets Should Be Taught Resiliency In School, Study Shows

The well-being of veterinarians has been brought to the forefront lately as practicing vets leave the profession in large numbers, citing mental health as one of their top concerns. Veterinarians and vet students have been reported to be at an increased risk of burnout, depression, and suicide when compared to other occupations. Vets say the main difficulties they face include long hours, heavy workloads, job demands, lack of work-life balance, challenging clients and unattainable client expectations, among other issues.

Dr. Marta Brscis and her research team report that younger and female veterinarians are at greater risk of job dissatisfaction, mental health issues, and suicidal thoughts. The scientists used text mining and topic modelling analysis on 211 scientific papers and abstracts that have studied the issues facing vet students between 1985 and 2019. They report that their approach can be used to comprehend in-depth phenomena involving vets and vet students.

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The team said their work uncovered several changes that should be considered in the admission process, while students are in vet school and after graduation to reduce well-being risks. These include including coursework that includes psychology models to prepare students to deal with animal death and pet owner grief, as well as information on how to handle moral stressors and ethical dilemmas. Learning to work in a team, how to communicate effectively and how to promote a work-life balance are also important action items.

The scientists also suggest investigating student’s level of empathy with animals before admission to vet school and perhaps prolonging their training, though vet school involves an already-difficult curriculum. Continuing education training might involve updating working veterinarians on different ways to look at their mental health.

Read the study here.

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