Emotional labor and animal care

Emotional labor and animal care
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Karen Sternheimer

My cat recently needed oral surgery to remove three teeth. It was an expensive procedure, requiring anesthesia and observation for most of the day. The local animal clinic is a busy place, overbooked in its small storefront, forcing people to wait outside due to space constraints and the ongoing COVID pandemic. There is a constant mix of newly arriving animals and those that have completed their appointments.

But the staff there do a great job; they quickly recognize when a patient arrives outside and contact the patient’s person immediately. Veterinary specialists later arrive to carefully greet the animal, and the vet leaves after the examination, sits down with the person to discuss his findings. I received several phone calls throughout the day with updates on my cat’s progress, including when she had surgery and was recovering. When I came to pick her up, the vet sat down and talked to me about her medication and follow up care.

Working with animals and their people can be emotionally charged and requires a lot of emotional work. My mom recently lost her pet Shaggy to brain cancer and received a condolence card and a call from the vet. It’s not easy for people who choose a career because they love animals to deal with sick people on a regular basis, especially when nothing can be done about poor Shaggy.

Humans are not only emotionally attached to their animal companions, but also how Atlantic Ocean it was recently reported that access to care is now often difficult due to a shortage of workers in the country, especially workers in the service industry. Many people, including senior vets, have decided to retire during the pandemic, leaving fewer people to provide needed services and many frustrated pet owners.

What helped create this labor shortage? High costs, relatively low wages and stress.

The Los Angeles Times. reported that student debt to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree is high, but the salary is relatively low and many veterinarians cannot afford to stay in business. The Journal of the American Veterinary Association reported that the average student loan debt in 2020 was was just over $157,000, while MD’s average student loan debt was just under $200,000. Due to the high cost of medical supplies, drugs and lab work, vets don’t make as much money as people think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average earnings of DVM in 2021 was just over $100,000, while the MD median income was double that at just over $200,000.

Even so, people can channel their frustration into high vet bills or being unable to pay for the care of a pet that may not survive due to the inability to pay. Veterinarians’ fees are increasing. in 2018 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that suicide rates for veterinarians were higher than the general population: 2.1 times higher for males and 3.5 times higher for females. And a veterinary practice requires an entire team of office staff and veterinary professionals who can earn slightly more than minimum wage. Like all public-facing professions, they can experience stress from difficult situations and the emotions of clients.

An acquaintance shared the story of trying to care for her dog when he was sick and unable to make an appointment. After he died, she got very angry and said that the vet clinics in her area should just not care. But as this vet’s video describes, clinics are overworked and work has become extremely stressful, creating a vicious cycle of people leaving the profession. I can only imagine the emotional toll it must take on a receptionist with a full clinic to tell someone asking for help with their dog that there is nothing they can do, let alone deal with the frustration and anger of the person on the other end. line.

When I picked up my cat after surgery, the receptionist cheerfully asked if the procedure should be charged to the card I have on file. She didn’t mention how much it cost and I didn’t ask. I felt that the office staff avoided difficult conversations whenever they could, and I understood. When the invoice and receipt arrived by e-mail by mail, I have verified myself. Even a cat’s health care is expensive.

I read about the problems with veterinary care before my cat’s procedure and the subsequent bill. I thought about how well they handled the emotional minefields of the surgical procedure, how caring the vets were when they took her in and brought her back, and decided to answer the email. invoice sent by mail with a short thank you email letter for their service. Their days are no doubt busy and they are probably getting replies to invoices from people who have complained.

If I could make one person’s day a little less stressful, help one vet decide to stay in the profession, it would be worth it. I got a smiley face emoji and that made my day too.

Next: How do acts of kindness create better mental and physical health?

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