The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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31 September 2018 THE HORSE he says, work persistently and might stay in a position far too long, putting up with difficult working conditions because they have a family to care for and student loan payments to make. They might be fearful about what the next place will hold. Jen Brandt, LISW-S, PhD, is director of wellbeing and diversity initiatives at the AVMA, and interacts with practitioners daily. She says in some cases a veteri- narian might feel he or she can't leave a practice "because there's a fear they might be blackballed, to some extent, and may not then have the same opportunities. If for whatever reason you're not satisfied with where you're working, it's not like there's necessarily another practice up the road in most places (as the case might be with small animal medicine). So you'd be looking at … relocating your family and starting a new client base. "So, some will say that they experience stress from feeling trapped," she adds. Changing Attitudes About Work Ethic Historically, vets have worked very hard. But overall, the newer arrivals to the pro- fession, as they ponder their futures, want to have more of that work-life balance. This is a stark contrast to what many veteran practitioners experienced early in their careers or expect as supervisors. "I think it's difficult sometimes on the equine side," says Grice. "We have a very strong ethos and identity as the tough equine vet that has no boundaries, works all the time, works till they tip over in their boots, and if you aren't that person (it can be easy to feel) that you don't belong, that you're not worthy of being a part of the club. And I've talked to many young women who have felt like they needed to leave equine practice because they were tired of working 60 and 70 hours a week and feeling like they were a slacker and that they weren't doing a good enough job. "So, that's on us to change that, and I feel very optimistic with the young vet- erinarians I meet in my groups that there is a new paradigm that is coming, one veterinarian at a time, that understands that we can provide really excellent ser- vice without sacrificing lives on the altar of veterinary medicine." Macpherson says it's important to consider other generational perspectives, as well. She sees many young equine vet- erinarians trying hard to achieve work-life balance but also be professionally suc- cessful in a world that doesn't completely understand that concept. The key is taking the time to understand all sides. "Often we hear the story about the established veterinarian whose expecta- tions are out of alignment with those of their younger associates," she says. "It's also the other way around. There often is a set of expectations that our younger veterinarians come in with, as well, that may not take into account what has gone into growing that practice and what the stresses are for that individual. "I even see it in a training situation where we have residents and students that probably are rightfully irritated when I'm not available to help them with something or do something … not understanding that my workday doesn't start then, out there in the barn. My workday goes on well beyond that. And, so, it's also just tak- ing into account that everybody's life has more dimension to it than we really see." Easley reflects on what ideal internship and residency scenarios look like. He con- siders himself lucky to have trained under Macpherson's husband, John Peloso, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, and under Frank- lin, who understand and appreciate good work-life balance. "Their philosophy was very much, 'You guys work together to get the job done. Your internship doesn't have to be a nightmare," he says. "As long as the team was getting along and helping each other out, that meant that if we worked better together and got it done earlier, we'd go enjoy dinner somewhere as a team. Let's do that; let's not stick to ourselves with every man for himself." The Possibility of Getting Injured The patients veterinarians work with day in and day out, some of which might be experiencing pain, compromised soundness, or balance issues, pose real injury risks. Others might simply be resis- tant to procedures or handling. Hansen points out that in a joint survey conducted with AVMA and AAEP in 2016, nearly four-fifths of equine practitioners reported that they'd been injured while on the job. About 40% of AAEP members are solo practitioners, says Grice. "They have to go back to work (if they get injured) because there's nobody else to make money. Some will lose their clients; they'll lose every- thing they worked so hard for, and so that COURTESY ROBO HENDRICKSON In Dr. Rob Franklin's work with equine charity groups, he's found something pro- fessionally and personally fulfilling. Number of Injuries Incurred Which Caused Missed Work (n=415) ■ One ■ Two to Four ■ Five to Eight ■ More than Eight 53.0% 37.3% 6.0% 3.6% SOURCE: 2016 AVMA/AAEP SURVEY

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