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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Page 34 of 59

35 September 2018 THE HORSE veterinary trucks basically identically, and the telephone and the veterinary assistant or technician belongs to the truck, not to the doctor, and then they rotate days. "The doctors are not interchangeable," she continues. "Obviously, they are hu- man beings and they have their strengths and their weaknesses, but things are set up so the client has a seamless experi- ence; no matter who comes out, (they know) they're going to get a good, compe- tent, caring, compassionate veterinarian. "But clients have to accept that," she adds, and not demand favorites from among the group. Other Stresses Brandt says in her conversations with vets she's heard about other important stressors, some specific to women. "Certainly what females report in the workplace is that they are disproportion- ately impacted by issues of sexual harass- ment or other types of harassment in the workplaces, often from fellow colleagues, but also not infrequently from clients. This can impact them, as far as feeling safe in the workplace and having equal access to opportunities," she says. "Many will say (being female) even impacts the interview questions that they get—like 'Are you ever going to plan to have a child, and how would you handle work if you're pregnant?' when that's an illegal interview question," she adds. Veterinarians who are moms often feel pulled to come back to work sooner than advisable. (Equine veterinarians in the U.K. have launched an initiative called MumsVet to educate parents—both moms and dads—and employers/practice owners about issues surrounding work- life balance and pregnancy. Read about this at Parallel service providers also chal- lenge equine veterinarians, says Hansen. These are "the nonveterinarians that are competing with the veterinarians for services—equine dentistry, integrative therapies, show circuit (services), internet and traveling pharmacies, etc." Still other pressures come in the virtual world, where criticism abounds 24/7. "An increasing stress seems to be re- lated to social media and the impact that a Yelp review may have," says Brandt, "particularly if the client hasn't made any attempt to speak with the veterinarian to address the concerns and, instead, takes it to a public forum immediately." Word travels fast on Facebook and other platforms, where one negative com- ment can gain momentum, hurting the reputation and, therefore, the business of a vet or an entire practice. Knowing the potential of these media can cause veteri- narians considerable stress. Brandt also cites isolation, as many veterinarians work in small practices or solo and don't necessarily have the team support that might be the norm across other medical professions. Macpherson feels isolation even hap- pens in a team setting. "Veterinarians are made up largely of a group of introverts and, so, that results in either not extend- ing ourselves to people that we think might be in need or not asking for help, and a big part of that is establishing trust and safety (for talking about these issues) in the workplace," she says. "And … we're trying to work on that, especially at the AAEP. That's a marathon, not a sprint." Practitioners attending this year's AAEP convention can learn about yet an- other important issue. "Veterinarians are not insulated from the traps of chemical addiction," says Franklin. "In fact, having access to many controlled substances can make this problem more of an issue than with other trades or professions." Session presenters will include top cli- nicians on addiction, a recovering addict and practice owner, and a Drug Enforce- ment Administration agent. Prioritizing Veterinarian Wellness "There's been an incredible shift, I think, and awareness of well-being, really in the last decade," says Brandt, who in her former role served as director of Student Services at The Ohio State Uni- versity College of Veterinary Medicine. "It feels like all hands on deck." She says her team is dedicated to bringing well-being initiatives and aware- ness to individuals and into practices and organizations, as well as focusing on diversity and inclusion as key elements of well-being. Some of those initiatives are being How You Can Help Equine practitioners interviewed for this article were adamant that clients never bear the burdens of their veterinarians' stresses. However, there's one way you can help address the challenges at hand: Ensure your horses are well-trained for handling and veterinary procedures. (Find a useful article about this at "It can be hard to say no to a client," says Amy Grice, VMD, MBA, who consults with vet- erinarians and practices about running their businesses. "Maybe you have a solo practice and you need them as a client. Maybe their horse is misbehaving and making you feel a little afraid and you really want to sedate it, but they don't really want you to. Will you put yourself in danger? Some of (the veterinarians) may, and they'll get lucky a lot of the time. Then there's going to be that time that they're not lucky." Remember that horses are accustomed to their environments and their vocations, says Grice, but they're not necessarily used to someone doing something noxious to them or injecting them. "So even the nicest horse that you could let your kid get on bareback with a halter and graze in the yard as chickens run around and cars and ATVs ride by is very different than that same horse having a hind-limb laceration sewed up," says Grice. "Keeping your veterinarian safe, so they can go home to their family, continue practic- ing, and pay their debts—that's a place where clients could really help their veterinarians, particularly those that are in solo practice, but even in group practice, because every veterinarian is needed to get the work done," she says.—Stephanie L. Church Changing Gender Distribution in the Equine Profession Average age of male equine respondents Mean years of experience for male equine respondents Average age of female equine respondents Mean years of experience for female equine respondents 54.9 years (median of 58 years) 29 years 12.3 years 39.2 years (median of 35 years) SOURCE: 2016 AVMA/AAEP SURVEY

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