When someone thinks about what a veterinarian does, many people might assume that you get to play with happy puppies and newborn kittens. While these situations occur often, other cases have more grim circumstances. In these instances, being a veterinarian also means that you have to be the bearer of bad news.
No owner wants to hear that his or her pet is not doing well. Most people don’t realize it, but being able to communicate with clients is just as important as practicing good medicine. When unfortunate news is involved, careful expression of sympathy and understanding is key. I’ll be the first person to say that I’m not the best at this and I need to improve.
Dealing with my own emotions has never been a problem for me. I don’t cry, I don’t show people how I am feeling, and I am difficult to read. I don’t let things bother me. I have thicker skin than most for some reason. It’s just the way I have always been.
I know that most people aren’t like me, and that is where my problem truly lies. Since I am so used to maintaining my composure and keeping a level head, it is difficult for me to know how to react with confidence when I see others in emotional situations. These moments are very awkward for me, because I’m not sure exactly how others handle these kind of things.
This is one of the reasons why I don’t think that working in a companion animal clinic is for me. Everyone who comes into the clinic is attached to their animal, and euthanizing someone’s pet is always an emotional ordeal.
It’s not that I don’t care or sympathize with an owner. It is always sad to see an animal suffering, and even more so when an owner is upset. I’ve just always kept my emotions more hidden, and I’ve never learned how to deal with emotional situations in any other way.
During my time at work this summer, I have tried to be present during as many euthanasia appointments as I can. Each doctor has a unique way of helping console owners through the process, and I hope to learn and improve on how I am able to do this before I graduate.