20 Mar Well-being of veterinarians and veterinary students – topic not addressed
A few days ago, we started a nationwide survey for veterinary doctors regarding life and professional satisfaction. We were the first to undertake this important subject in order to create our report for the veterinary industry.
Veterinarians, as highly sensitive people, tend to be perfectionistic, conscientious and neurotic, all of which may be risk factors for depression and burnout. Relative social isolation also contributes to this issue, as they prefer to work with animals rather than with people. It is also known that the suicide rate among veterinary surgeons is one of the highest of all professions. They influence factors are: e.g. financial problems and low earnings, high customer expectations, online reputation destruction, overwork, lack of mechanisms for coping with long-term stress, and access and the ability to dose psychoactive substances.
However, a very demanding curriculum and pressure for success while studying at a university may prevent the expected increase in emotional intelligence and social skills at this critical point in the life of veterinary students. This limits the development of their coping skills and resistance to stress.
Last year there were over 5,000 suicides in Poland, of which about 4,500 were committed by men. According to experts, the main reason was depression. Prof. Bartosz Łoza talked about the reasons why men in Poland are suicidal and the dramatic situation and underfunding of psychiatry in an interview with Magdalena Rigamonti.
The results of the study for doctors and students, which we conducted 1.5 years ago, will be presented at the Vet-Forum in Łódź, in a satellite session on Sunday, April 8 at 12:00 noon. They will also help to prepare a report for the National Veterinary Chamber.
In cooperation with a team of psychologists, we prepared our original seminars for the veterinarians, auxiliary staff, and students that make up the Wellness project. We are veterinarians and we deeply believe that through a common conversation in a friendly atmosphere and sharing our own stories, we can create a space for discussion on such important topics as burnout, stress, euthanasia, passing bad news and communication with a difficult and demanding client. These issues are not addressed during academic education programs in our country. However, they are already a standard at Western universities, where more and more suicides are registered among students of veterinary medicine. In the United States, students are also dealing with gigantic debts because of high education costs.
The cult of work prevails in our country. Leading authorities in many areas openly admit that they are workaholics. Others pushed forward by the necessity of making a living and providing for their families, as well as the desire for professional success join the race. We tend to bottle up our problems, and difficult topics happen to be made fun of on the forums without admitting openly that the problem may affect us too. In addition, there is cynicism, psychological exhaustion, lack of faith in improving the situation, passive aggression towards others – these are the signs of professional burnout, which may also happen in younger peers. This is further aggravating the situation, making even more people ashamed to speak, due to the fact that the problem is being downplayed by others.
We want to provide support to our colleagues who need it. We will hardly ever hear: “I want to kill myself, I want to finish myself.” We will hear:
Let’s open to the world around, let’s listen to each other. Our results will be presented soon.
The first two from the series of our Wellness seminars will be soon in Warsaw – on April 14th and 15th. We invite both veterinarians and students to attend them!