Friday, September 8, 2017

Mobbing and Lobbying. The Backlash Of A Voice For Your Patients

There is no secret I harbor about which side I play for. If there are sides to be chosen and I am forced to choose one I have to play for the side that is my patients. I have to raise awareness, speak out unafraid and pick a side. I find it increasingly difficult to believe I am on a solo team. It may feel like it right now, but I know I am not alone.

The great divide between able and infeasible grows day after day. It grows in our economic landscape and it grows in veterinary medicine access. The great divide seems to also be growing between veterinarians and pet parents. We are uniquely intimately dependent on each other and yet the contention and animosity grows. I am not saying this to incite another social media riot, I am saying this because that is what I hear every single day in practice. It is why there are viral videos and thousands of broken hearted pet parents posting their stories beneath it.

We cannot go one day in the clinic without a phone call from a pet parent who is desperate for help. Now I know the knee jerk reaction is to place blame squarely back on the phone caller, BUT, I also know there is a pet stuck in the middle and I have an ethical obligation to the seat of my soul to not abandon caring for or about them. I feel as though I am alone right now in my profession because I can no longer stand by and watch these desperate people look hopelessly for help because it is less profitable to care. Let's be honest now, that is exactly what we are talking about, profitability and compassion.

The bond between our love for our pets and our spending on our pets also increases on an equal trajectory upward slope. It is so evident in our profession that veterinary clinics are being swallowed up by corporate practices at an alarming rate. No one outside of the corporate stake holders and retiring cashing-out veterinarians likes this change. No veterinarian wants to feel like they now work for a corporate decision making agenda and have lost or surrendered their ability to practice their own type of medicine with their own style for their own pateints. It is one of the many significant influences shaping the way we practice and the care our clients receive. Corporations are buying up clinics for one reason alone: Profit. Veterinary clinics, especially in their hands, are very profitable. On the flip side, veterinarians want to tell us that pet care is expensive because it is expensive to outfit a hospital with all of its needed equipment, personnel and such. At an individual level veterinarians want to be paid commensurate to their time and expertise. Veterinarians will also share that the profession is over run with over tired, over worked, professionals shouldering a huge burden of debt. The situation is tenuous and complex. At the epicenter sits our too often immensely needy, and, too often on the brink of near death, patients.

There is always a victim in life, it is the nature of our internal beast. Pets, the very reason we all went into veterinary medicine, too often end up the victim of a profession pushing the boundaries of affordability daily, a population struggling more to make ends meet, and a society who places greater importance on pets as a necessity in a complete family unit. There is raw, deep emotion on all sides and an ever widening gap in affordable prices to meet the gap in the middle. That is the reality. The blame, the finger pointing, the judgement all builds the resentment to a boiling point where an animal is left with the seemingly only feasible option of "economic euthanasia." A term so vile I cannot even permit it to be considered a "treatment". The idea of euthanasia being used anywhere as a suggested option outside of "end of life" is disturbing to me. I only hope it is something the profession will also at some point embrace.

We are at the place where clients frequently tell me they will not ever get another pet. It  is simply too expensive for them to bear the financial and emotional burden of. Can you imagine anything worse being said? The joy and benefits to our lives no longer outweigh the financial obligation. Beyond the emotional toll of losing a loved one people don't want another pet because of the financial emotional turmoil it places on them. How did this happen? Did we all got too emotionally invested to make practical economic decisions? The longer I practice medicine the more deeply I understand this role I have to accept when I help my clients through an end of life decision. I am, as I am asked to be, emotionally invested in their pets and their lives. It is the single most difficult hat to wear and the single most treasured moments I share professionally.

I am going to post some of the gut wrenching stories I am being flooded with. I am once again asking myself to stay strong enough to not surrender to the mountain of tragedy around me and the chasm of abysmal indifference below. I am at the limits of what I can do and at a precipice to either giving up on a quest I cannot abandon or dying alone in a profession of angry people defending their fear of being called out. The proof I will remind everyone is not in how we justify whatever we do, for in the end you only take yourself to the grave, it is in the seeds we sow, the change we inspire and the generosity to our fellow beings.

Please ask yourself what your role is? Ask yourself if you are capable of the emotional investment and ask yourself how imperative it is to never let one pet parent leave one exam room feeling hopeless, lost and unable to protect or provide the pet they love.

I posted a Facebook video rant on how ridiculous it is for most of my clients to find affordable care after hours. It has been met by millions of viewers, thousands of people supporting my posting it, and a huge backlash of angry, cruel, venomous veterinarians and veterinary personnel. The anger is palpable, real, and absolute cyberbullying. I was determined to help the pets in need before and now I am humbled and grateful for the pet parents, rescuers, and pet lovers globally and questioning why the vets are so angry if they are so confident that they are the victims of the outpouring of dismay.

Peace, love and compassion to you all. Krista

Links to Facebook posts here; 

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