An article recently came out stating that Veterinarians should basically accept that we are underpaid, that we should not complain about it. When in reality Veterinarians are underpaid and the fact that people think we shouldn’t say a word is ridiculous.
As you can imagine many Veterinarians were up in arms about this article. Just like with other professions who feel they are undervalued and underpaid (ie Teachers) there are professions out there that are overvalued and overpaid (ie sports players). No one can say that a sports player offers more value than a teacher who is building a foundation for life. While many say they have the right to complain about their pay, why should it be different for a doctor?
Veterinarians are underpaid. The problem with us being underpaid is that if we wanted a fair salary where would the money come from? Clients already have a difficult time affording veterinary care so putting more on top of them can understandably making owning a pet unreachable. While I do fully believe we should make as much as your MD, I don’t know how it is actually possible (I would love to hear suggestions on how to fix this).
On top of veterinarians being underpaid, so is our staff. Veterinary technicians have to have as much knowledge as nurses. They need to know what to do in emergencies, give injections, place catheters, take blood, etc. We all know that many of our staff members have to work two jobs to stay afloat, but to say that we should not make what we are worth until someone else does is ridiculous. In fact, everyone should be paid fairly, but without veterinarians, technicians won’t have jobs.
The cost of education is out of control.
It costs so much money to get a veterinary degree it is the worst financial decision if you go. There I said it, it puts you in an awful situation where you are stuck financially. The average salary is $65,000 while the average debt is $150,000-$200,000. That is average! On top of all of this imagine 8% interest.
With owing thousands each month, how can you make it work? There definitely are options for the short term, just know you will owe hundreds of thousands to the IRS later in life.
So the amount we owe doesn’t determine our worth. Let’s dive into what does determine our worth.
We have to learn all species, not just one. I may practice small animal, but I had to take boards on all species. I had to learn about horses, colic, cows, sheep, pigs, etc. I distinctly remember having my arm up a cow while it was snowing out. So yes, the knowledge we have to obtain is insane.
We have all the liability on our shoulders. Does your puppy have roundworms, which we treated but didn’t discuss zoonotic diseases and you get them? Guess what we are liable. Does your MD discuss zoonotic diseases with you when you mention you adopted a cat or dog? Most likely not.
We are everything to our pets. We are their general practitioner, ophthalmologist, surgeon, internist, radiologist, nutritionist, should I go on? If you were getting a hysterectomy would you want your GP to do it or a surgeon? When we spay animals it is an ovariohysterectomy.
Veterinarians are at work early, come home late, work long weekends and typically more than 40 hours a week. On top of this, some are also on call. Your doctor may answer the phone after the on-call service calls them but they aren’t meeting you at the hospital to care for you.
The worst part is our clients use social media and emotions to get what they want. I have had clients tell other clients, just complain and say they are in it for the money and they will give you whatever you want. How is this fair?
We are emotionally manipulated every single day. If a client doesn’t like what the answer is they will start with facebook and put up half the story to get shares and I have seen them try to take down vets and clinics.
They use the board against veterinarians also during this. They do whatever they can to have a vet say fine, here is your money back. I’ll do whatever you want, just go away. How do I know this? I have had it happen, except I didn’t budge and the truth showed.
A medical doctor has an extremely stressful job, dealing with humans, someone’s mom, son, father, daughter, etc. We don’t have the same job but we have the same knowledge and perform the same work, just on different species.
No profession is perfect, but to tell us we shouldn’t complain about what we make is ridiculous. I do feel we should earn more, but where is this coming from? How are we going to work on getting the student debt lowered? How can we fix burnout, compassion fatigue and manipulation? This is something we have to join together to figure out.