I have been thinking about veterinary medicine a lot lately. Well, for years and years really. It is the best job there is. I love being a veterinarian.
I would like you to know a veterinarian’s perspective on a few things. Well, at least THIS veterinarian’s perspective anyway.
I do love animals. I do love puzzles. Putting those two together was the best decision I ever made. Veterinary medicine is about taking an uncommunicative, sometimes uncooperative, patient, gathering clues to the picture and setting a course for treatment. My job is to recommend how to collect those clues and then put them together. Sometimes I am left with little choice in gathering that information.
I do not love to talk financials with clients. I do not love to choose between the best medicine and diagnostics and your financial constraints. I understand everyone has them though. My job, if I do it right, is to recommend the gold standard. My OBLIGATION to the animal is to recommend the gold standard. I get that you might not be able to afford referral to a neurologist for a CT scan or an emergency clinic for a blood transfusion. I understand that. It is my job to tell you, with the available information I have, what is the best course for your pet. It is YOUR job, as the guardian of your animal’s best care and the supervisor of your wallet, to balance those two interests. I cannot see the depths of your bank statement all I can see is your pet and its illness or its longevity.
I am focused on preventing disease and alleviating suffering of your family member. I don’t know that you need 4 root canals, or your kids need new shoes for school, but I understand when you tell me that is why you can’t do the gold standard care for your pet. I can work within your budget, but then you need to budget your expectations of my results. If I do not get to do all the diagnostics I need to see the whole picture, I may head down the wrong path for treatment and the outcome may not be what either of us want or expect. I use my head and experience and odds ratios to pare down my tests and treatments to the most likely scenarios that might cause your pet’s issues. This is part of the caveat emptor, you get what you pay for, of veterinary medicine.
Unfortunately the financial constraint approach often ends up delaying appropriate treatment and with less than stellar results.
In this ramble I really want to say that I want what is best for your animal. It is my job to recommend that. I know you have limits, I accept that you do. You need to tell me what those limits are and remember you get what you pay for. I will always try my best in each circumstance, but even so results are NOT guaranteed, we are dealing with a living breathing thing whose mysteries sometimes are not fully discoverable.