The global pandemic has been a time of great stress for many people. The loss of loved ones, fear of contracting Covid-19, the sense of isolation brought on by being forced to stay at home, and the loss of physical touch has hurt the mental health not only of Americans but of many people across the world. There is a global mental health crisis. Veterinarians have also suffered because as the country has reopened over the last few months, they have had to deal with so much pent-up demand for their services. During the first months of the pandemic, pet ownership surged, with 11.38 million households becoming pet owners. Given that so many veterinary offices were closed during the early period of the pandemic, when they opened, the demand for their services was unprecedented. Old clients and new clients raced to see their vets. Vets were forced to extend work hours, yet even there they could not prevent huge backlogs forming. Vets have been busier than ever. Many vets report suffering from burnout and stress. Recognizing this, DVM 360 wrote an article celebrating the resilience of vets at a time of incredible stress. Let’s go through the main points of that article.
Resilience is an admirable quality. Angela Duckworth, the world’s leading researcher on the subject, believes that resilience, or what she calls grit, is the key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t. It’s more important than IQ, predicts SAT results, and overall success. There is a tendency to focus on our struggles. Yet, if we talk to each other and talk about vets in ways that suggest that they are broken, behind, that there’s something wrong with them, things are going to go terribly, no matter how noble your intentions, you will create self-portraits of brokenness. The DVM 360 takes the other route. It celebrates the situations in which vets have shown resilience and allows us to learn from how they have overcome the many challenges they face. Rather than feel sorry for vets, we are encouraged to acknowledge what they have overcome and the emotional resources they have had to call upon. This isn’t to say that they do not need help. There is a subtle difference between the two attitudes and it’s refreshing to see a piece like this.
Being resilient does not mean that you never feel negative emotions. We are human, not machines. There is nothing to celebrate about a machine overcoming an emotionally difficult situation, because that machine does not feel the emotional difficulty. There is something to be celebrated about someone who wrestles with thoughts of giving up, wondering why they entered a profession where they are constantly taking care of animals rather than taking care of themselves, or other such thoughts. It’s okay to feel those emotions. Feeling and processing emotions is a normal part of life. What DVM 360 is saying is, let’s celebrate vets for showing up at a time when they had so many incentives not to. Nurturing mentally healthy, resilient people and corporate cultures is something that anyone interested in LPC supervision cares about.