Can Veterinary Social Workers Help Alleviate Workplace Stress? - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Can Veterinary Social Workers Help Alleviate Workplace Stress?

The suicide rate among veterinarians is nearly four times greater than the suicide rate among the general population, according to the National Library of Medicine. Many factors contribute to veterinarian's feelings of hopelessness, including financial burdens, lack of a work-life balance, shortages of adequate staff, and client relationship pressures, among others. 

Small animal medicine has recently begun incorporating veterinary social work, a newer field that addresses human needs in veterinary medicine, into the vet-health arsenal. This up-and-coming field is designed to assist pet owners feeling stress or grief during a pet's illness or death; pets are often viewed as part of the family, making their passing feel like the loss of a family member.

Veterinary social work offers compassion, empathy, understanding, validation, and compassion to pet owners suffering a loss, says Kathleen Dunbar, a veterinary social worker with Carnegy Animal Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

The  veterinary social worker role is also designed to support vets and veterinary staff who are experiencing workplace stress and burnout, which is often exacerbated by staffing shortages. Dunbar is hopeful that the support she provides to veterinarians will alleviate some of the stress of their job. 

The impact of veterinary social work on the veterinarians could be profound, mitigating stress and providing coping mechanisms that will hopefully translate into declining veterinarian suicides.

Read more at CBC Radio Canada

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