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 36 of 59

37 September 2018 THE HORSE on the professional to intentionally cre- ate healthy boundaries in their practice. Sometimes that starts with a conversa- tion with ourselves that says, 'I can't be all things, to all people, all the time.' That's honest and allows us to gain some perspective on where we are spending our time and resources, so that we can find ways to provide care and coverage for our clients without always being the one to do it." While we don't need to take on our vets' struggles, we can remember them as we interact. "I think it's important that clients understand that veterinarians are people, too, and they come to veterinary medicine because they love the horse and they want to do their very best," says Grice. "But they're human." In other words, recognize that while your veterinarian might seem like a super human, he or she experiences stress and goes home to many of the same chal- lenges or concerns that you do. Macpherson reflects: "I absolutely love what I do, and I feel so proud and so happy and so satisfied to be an equine vet- erinarian, in all capacities. I'm not going to lie, there are the bumps. But overall, to be able to say that I love my job is a great, great thing, and I would love for many, many people below me, agewise, to have the same opportunity, and the best way to do that is to facilitate it and make some changes." "Globally, if we can come back to that mantra—be kind," says Brandt. "We're doing the best we can. (It's important that we have) some tolerance, compassion, empathy, and seeking to understand other perspectives as part of how we routinely interact with those around us." h What the Numbers Say Charlotte Hansen, MS, is an equine economist in the Veterinary Economics Division at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in Schaumburg, Illinois. She researches and analyzes eco- nomic issues in the profession and with her colleagues creates several economic reports looking at different markets: education, veterinarians (including an analysis of practitioners' health), and veterinary services. She has combed through data from a joint survey conducted with AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in 2016. "When we look at the AAEP membership data, the attrition rates for those that were leaving before five years of being a member in the AAEP were used as a proxy for those leaving the equine profession," she says. "It doesn't necessarily mean they're leaving the profession as a whole, just leaving equine veterinary medicine. And what we see is an increasing trend in new veterinarians after graduation not renew- ing their AAEP memberships after five years. "If we take a look at the survey data," she adds, "67.4% of survey respondents who are currently not working in equine medicine left be- tween zero and five years of practicing equine medicine, and almost three-quarters of the respondents reported graduating on or after 2000." (See charts at right.) She notes that average equine starting salaries are still lower on av- erage than in other areas of veterinary medicine, and that the gender distribution over the past decade or two has shifted to more females entering the veterinary profession than males (see chart on page 35). "When we look at the high average student debt that new veterinar- ians are facing, and we look at the average equine starting salaries for equine practitioners, and they're on average lower than those in companion animals and also in all private practice, this is a huge re- alization to be facing right after graduation," she says. "And if we look at the data, we see that a lot of younger veterinarians who, keep in mind, the majority are female, report having a lower excellent mental health than those that are males (see chart on page 32). "Is that mental health related to the high debt, the lower starting salaries, a lot of the other issues that the equine practitioner is facing in the profession?" Hansen poses. An economic analysis on burnout from the AVMA/AAEP survey reveals that on average, dissatisfaction with current employment, not feeling that education prepared the equine vet well, working more hours, and currently owing on educa- tional debt were just a few of the significant factors affecting burnout. "Now, if we look at physical health conditions, we see that male owners and associates are reporting a less percent of excellent health compared to female owners and associates," (also seen in the chart on page 32). Other findings: ■ The longer the respondent was practicing veterinary medicine, the lower the odds or likelihood he or she left equine medicine within five years. ■ The odds of having left the equine profession within five years after graduating were higher for respondents who completed an intern- ship than those who didn't. ■ The odds of having left the equine profession within five years after graduating were higher for those respondents currently in public practice (e.g., industry, academia, consulting, research) than for those in private. "We have to keep in mind when we look at the survey numbers that the shift in gender across graduation years has changed, with more females entering the profession right now than males," she says. "In the equine survey the average age for equine (veterinarian) males was 55, and the average years of experience was 29 (more than a quarter of males had more than 40 years of experience, compared to less than 1% of females). For females, the average (age) was 39 years, and the mean years of experience was 12 (median years of experience was nine)."—Stephanie L. Church Distribution of Equine Respondents Leaving the Profession by Time Frame of Departure (n=89) 0-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21+ YEARS YEARS YEARS YEARS YEARS 67.4% 14.6% 5.6% 11.2% 1.1% YEARS AFTER GRADUATION % OF RESPONDENTS Distribution of Equine Respondents Who Reported Leaving the Equine Profession Within 5 Years of Graduation, by Graduation Year 1967-1976 1977-1986 1987-1996 1997-2006 2007-2011 2012-2016 (n=7) (n=11) (n=18) (n=16) (n=23) (n=15) 57.1% 45.5% 27.8% 56.3% 91.3% 100% % OF RESPONDENTS GRADUATION YEAR SOURCE: 2016 AVMA/AAEP SURVEY

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