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People Expect Veterinarians to be Better than Google

Posted in Our Community @ May 29th 2014 - By Dr Liz Chmurycz, Russell Vale Animal Clinic
People Expect Veterinarians To Be Better Than Google

At the 2014 AVA Annual Conference ‘What’s Best Practice? two sessions came up with variations of the line “people expect vets to be better than Google”.

“Vets are in a noble profession” says the ethicist Dr Whiting and who could disagree with that statement?

However modern veterinary practice is in a conflict – it requires animal disease to survive.

Dr Whiting used an example of his (fictional) personal trainer who is helping him regain his six pack, at which point the trainer is no longer needed. 

The personal trainer has three options:

1.       Help him get his figure back quickly and efficiently

2.       Help him over a longer period of time but eventually find the gorgeous body underneath

3.       OR – deliberately use inappropriate or inefficient exercise to ensure life- long visits.

Obviously, if the trainer chose options 2 and 3, then he will make more money.

An example was used of a veterinarian in the UK who chose the third option. He deliberately chose to mislead the client and not give appropriate accurate information with the view to coercing them into more expensive and unnecessary tests. The good news is that he is no longer a veterinarian.

In the veterinary industry, there is a constant conflict of duty – to our pet, our pet owner, and to our businesses.

 “Our duty to animal welfare is to do better each year” says Dr Whiting.

Our animals deserve the financial investment veterinarians make in equipment, skill and knowledge.  No one would deny the fact that our pets deserve that kind of financial investment.

And as for the pet owner?

Dr Whiting pointed out though, “Positive perception abruptly ends with the invoice.”  

At the AVA Member Forum a recurrent theme was the public perception of the high costs of veterinary care.  This was a point which everyone understood very clearly as those of us who operate veterinary businesses know all too well how expensive it is to establish and operate such a business.

As Graham Catt, CEO of the Australian Veterinary Association (who isn’t a vet by the way), pointed out at the Forum “No one cares more about animals than veterinarians. All health care costs have risen, and this is a form of health care, but vet health care costs has risen less than CPI.”

Ultimately, veterinary care is a ‘user pays’ system and sadly, this becomes a problem when the user can’t or won’t pay.  What seems to be overlooked so easily though is the value the pet owner is getting for their veterinary services they are receiving.   

Veterinarians believe pet owners are getting good value, yet many pet owners are focusing on costs.

“With great power comes great responsibility”, says Dr Whiting, as he finished up his session. 

Ultimately, vets need to remember that point as we enter the consultation room, and endeavour to help our pets quickly and efficiently.  The future of our noble profession lies in us doing exactly that. 

Dr Liz Chmurycz is a  companion animal veterinarian, based at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, in Wollongong, Australia. As a solo vet and business owner, she is also a mother of four children. She is passionate about the veterinary profession, and the animals she sees. 

You can read Dr Liz's Blog here: Dr Liz...the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic

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