The training to become a veterinarian is challenging. It involves a lot of class and lab time (5 hours a day or so), studying for hours each day, and at least one exam/test per week. Yet, one of the biggest challenges is the sort of thing that one cannot really prepare for: the challenge of caring for sick pets and grieving owners.
This past summer, NPR talked about the challenges:
“People who work in animal shelters or veterinary clinics try to save the animals that come through their doors. But they’re at high risk of compassion fatigue, a sustained stress that takes a toll on a caregiver’s mind and body — and her heart.
It can morph into many forms: Some feel guilt or apathy, others turn to substance abuse. Little data exists, but research suggests veterinarian suicide rates are some of the highest in the medical field, and a 2014 study of about 10,000 veterinarians found twice as much “severe psychological distress” in them than in the general public. 1 in 6 veterinary school graduates say they have considered suicide.”
The article goes on to talk about various challenges that cause distress: the sheer amount of work that limits the time given to animals and humans, the cost of veterinary services, how pets can often be seen as disposable, and the emotional cost of euthanizing an animal.
Your prayers are requested for those in training to be veterinarians – that they might not only learn the information they need to know well but also develop the skills and wisdom to be able to best approach the social and emotional challenges brought before as they live out their calling as veterinarians.