Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Hi everyone,

I would like to hear about some of the areas in veterinary medicine one can work in that do not require a lot of euthanasia procedures. I don't want this to become a debate about euthanasia. I understand it can be a gift in an animals last moments of suffering. I am simply curious if there are certain fields that require you to euthanize far less than general practice or emergency.

I am very interested in zoo medicine.

I am also interested in rehab for animals. Do any of you have any information on the rehab specialty? I know you can actually be either a vet or a physical therapist and still venture down this route.

I have done some google searching and I haven't found as much information as I would like. So why not get the insider's scoop?

Thanks everyone! :D
 

lailanni

c/o 2012
10+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2007
1,032
181
Status
Veterinarian
Hi everyone,

I would like to hear about some of the areas in veterinary medicine one can work in that do not require a lot of euthanasia procedures. I don't want this to become a debate about euthanasia. I understand it can be a gift in an animals last moments of suffering. I am simply curious if there are certain fields that require you to euthanize far less than general practice or emergency.

I am very interested in zoo medicine.

I am also interested in rehab for animals. Do any of you have any information on the rehab specialty? I know you can actually be either a vet or a physical therapist and still venture down this route.

I have done some google searching and I haven't found as much information as I would like. So why not get the insider's scoop?

Thanks everyone! :D
Google the veterinary specialties. https://www.avma.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Education/Specialties/Pages/default.aspx (link here if that didn't work)

Just some of the ones where I'd think you don't really have to euth. There are several more but I'll let you check that out yourself.

Dermatology https://www.acvd.org/
Dental http://www.avdc.org/
Nutrition http://www.acvn.org/
Radiology http://www.acvr.org/

Probably of most interest to you is ACZM > http://www.aczm.org/

Becoming a diplomate in a specialty requires a residency (and more often than not, an internship or time in practice before that). Internships are typically in a fast paced, busy clinic where you will most likely encounter euthanasia.

I'm not sure what you mean by rehab. Where I'm from you can get a license to rehab wildlife. Requirements vary by state. This takes some time and training and you don't necessarily need to be a veterinarian. There's a sports medicine rehab speciality, but they're only currently provisionally recognized by the AVMA.

But just as a cautionary note, you will see a lot of dead animals in vet school. If you spend time in a general practice to get experience hours (which you'll need for your school app) you'll see a fair amount of euthanasia. Also zoo medicine is highly competitive and has very, very limited openings. I would wager that most people who enter vet school with zoo med as their intent usually end up working in general practice because there just aren't many jobs. Not saying it's not possible, but the probability isn't working in anyone's favor. So you'll need to be patient, well connected, or open to other opportunities.
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
There is now a specialty for rehab through the American college of sports medicine and rehabilitation. There are people who do it on referral basis only and never prescribe any meds or euthanize. They just do the rehab. You don't have to be boarded in it. There are programs you can partake in for certification I think through Tennessee and Colorado.
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Thank you Lailanni!

Yes, I was referring to the sports medicine rehab specialty. What does it mean to be provisionally recognized by the AVMA?
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Minneralbelle, you don't have to be board certified to do sports rehab? I have looked into UTK's rehab program, so I know which one you are referring to. Do you know anything about the salary of sports rehab veterinarians?
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
Minneralbelle, you don't have to be board certified to do sports rehab? I have looked into UTK's rehab program, so I know which one you are referring to. Do you know anything about the salary of sports rehab veterinarians?
I don't know about sports rehab per se (as in athletes), but the couple of people I know do rehab for like post ortho/neuro surgery and geriatric pets and they have some sort of accreditation but they're not board certified. I have no idea how much they make. I don't think that much (as in my impression was on par with GPs).
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
If anyone knows a lot of information about any particular specialty, or specializes themselves, I would love to hear more about it.
 
Last edited:
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
Yep.

It's funny though....I am very, very sensitive when it comes to euthanasia. It hits me really hard. I bawled like a baby when we had to put our rabbit down, and I bawled like a baby whenever I was involved with a euthanasia in fourth year. But for some reason when I'm on the floor, I can separate myself from it and it doesn't affect me. I guess it is sort of like, when the process itself is happening, it is still a pet and a living being. But once it comes to me, it is just a body with lesions. Or if it comes on biopsy, it is just a piece of a living thing, not the thing itself. Of course, I treat said bodies and pieces of bodies with the utmost respect, but at that point they are simple biological entities rather than an emotional/spiritual ones.

I'll be honest in that a "side" reason I went into path in the first place is I don't think I could handle doing euthanasias regularly like most practitioners do. I mean of course I love pathology as a discipline and it gets me intellectually on all levels...but I am also very cognizant of what I can and can't do emotionally.
 
Last edited:

LetItSnow

Skipping the light fandango
7+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2011
19,171
18,047
Plymouth, MN, USA
animaltracks.wordpress.com
Status
Veterinarian
We don't do any euthanasias in path. For obvious reasons. :heckyeah:

Everything come prechilled and/or prepackaged.
Falllllllllllse!

Lying liar that lies.

On my necropsy rotation the VDL received big clear plastic bags filled with living fish that were part of some investigation and were delivered alive to be euth'd for examination.

Neener neener.

:)

(Sorry. I'm just a bit loopy this morning after one helluva hellacious shift.)

On a more serious note: I found my necropsy rotation to be the single worst rotation in terms of the whole euthanasia/dead animal thing. All that time spent cutting an animal up I couldn't stop thinking about it being someone's pet that I'm chopping apart and how much they probably cared if they wanted to find out what happened blah blah blah. At least on rotations where we euth'd them it was euth and gone.

So I dunno. I really don't think I could handle path. At least, the gross necropsy portion. The cool sciency stuff you do that I didn't see as a student would be neat.
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
WTF I love that you are honest with yourself in saying that part of the reason you chose pathology is your desire to do less euthanasia. I feel as though if I do go into vet medicine I would be far happier in a specialty that doesn't require euthanasia nearly as much as general practice or emergency. I can imagine I would be like you were, bawling my eyes out. I am sure people may become more accustomed to seeing it and maybe the emotional reactions get toned down a bit. I just think I would prefer a specialty that doesn't have to euth nearly as much as general practice.

I can understand what you are saying. It becomes all about the science. Through undergrad I have performed many dissections on various animals which I will admit, I didn't like this because I always wondered where they got these animals from. I very much hope they didn't euthanize them simply for college students to dissect them. I feel like for undergraduates, there are far better ways to teach the science. Either by computer simulation or watching the professor do one dissection by projector. To me it felt like the large amount of animals sent in for each pair of students to dissect was overkill and unnecessary. I know euthanizing someones beloved animal would have me squalling. If I do end up pursuing vet med, hopefully people won't judge me for that lol.
 

CalliopeDVM

7+ Year Member
Nov 21, 2010
937
719
Toronto, ON
Status
Veterinarian
I am sure people may become more accustomed to seeing it and maybe the emotional reactions get toned down a bit.
Speaking for myself and many of the vets I've talked to about it, it isn't that we are used to it, it's that most of the time it really is the best thing for the pet in those circumstances. Sure, we might wish they had better owners, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. In 15 years, I can only think of one time I felt like crying for the animal. (It's much more common that I feel like crying for the owners than for their pet.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: LetItSnow

lailanni

c/o 2012
10+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2007
1,032
181
Status
Veterinarian
Falllllllllllse!

Lying liar that lies.

On my necropsy rotation the VDL received big clear plastic bags filled with living fish that were part of some investigation and were delivered alive to be euth'd for examination.

Neener neener.

:)

(Sorry. I'm just a bit loopy this morning after one helluva hellacious shift.)

On a more serious note: I found my necropsy rotation to be the single worst rotation in terms of the whole euthanasia/dead animal thing. All that time spent cutting an animal up I couldn't stop thinking about it being someone's pet that I'm chopping apart and how much they probably cared if they wanted to find out what happened blah blah blah. At least on rotations where we euth'd them it was euth and gone.

So I dunno. I really don't think I could handle path. At least, the gross necropsy portion. The cool sciency stuff you do that I didn't see as a student would be neat.
You and me both! My necropsy rotation was (for me) the worst experience. Ever. I remember cutting apart a horse and then running the intestine (while hearing the head go through the bandsaw) and thinking that if there was a hell, this was probably it. But then... at 4:45 pm... another horse was delivered to us. Second circle of hell.

Aside from being physically up to my elbows in dead animals, it was quite emotionally difficult for me. I kept thinking that the body was someone's furry friend, and it didn't sit well with me to cut off a leg and open everything up. For me, instead of being separate, I kept thinking/feeling like someone's best friend was getting reduced to bits and pieces each necropsy. So I'm glad that someone else is good at that stuff!! It's a very important part of vet med and definitely not something I could do! 2 weeks was hard enough for me!

Euthanasia is one of my "favorite" parts of vet med - not that I particularly enjoy the process, but I find it immensely rewarding to make it a peaceful transition for the owner and pet. I'm always glad that everyone has diverse interests. We can all do our favorite parts and everything gets done :)
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
After my necropsy rotation, I decided that I would never submit my pets for full necropsies unless I absolutely needed to. I just couldn't get over the hacking up every single part of the pet thing. If potential abdominal mass or something, I might have a friend do a cosmetic abdomen only explore type of necropsy. But that was really hard to do. The full necropsy. It made me really really sad
 
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
On the other hand I routinely euthanize like 2-3 pets per day and it really doesn't bother me much at all. It is also when I have the most meaningful client interactions. I can make a huge difference for them during a very difficult time.
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
Well. It takes all kinds. It's a body. It will go through much worse things as it slowly decomposes underground or is burned to a crisp in the incinerator, although it seems people are totally cool with burial and cremation. That's how I look at it, at least. Just saying. We just don't run around "hacking" and "chopping" stuff up (yes sometimes force is needed for certain things, but those words irk me. We dissect. We do not "hack") without regard for where the body came from.
 
Last edited:
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
Falllllllllllse!

Lying liar that lies.

On my necropsy rotation the VDL received big clear plastic bags filled with living fish that were part of some investigation and were delivered alive to be euth'd for examination.
I would have sent that **** right back to the attending clinician or PI and told them to bring them to me dead or not at all. :nono:
 

LetItSnow

Skipping the light fandango
7+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2011
19,171
18,047
Plymouth, MN, USA
animaltracks.wordpress.com
Status
Veterinarian
Well. It takes all kinds. It's a body. It will go through much worse things as it slowly decomposes underground or is burned to a crisp in the incinerator, although it seems people are totally cool with burial and cremation. That's how I look at it, at least. Just saying. We just don't run around "hacking" and "chopping" stuff up (yes sometimes force is needed for certain things, but those words irk me. We dissect. We do not "hack") without regard for where the body came from.
I definitely wasn't being negative about your work. I value it. I just couldn't do it. It's just .... Interesting to me which parts of vet med different people react emotionally to.

I certainly hack n chop. Both back on my necropsy rotation and in practice. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Minnerbelle

twelvetigers

stabby cat
10+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2008
18,634
10,141
TTown
Status
Veterinarian
After my necropsy rotation, I decided that I would never submit my pets for full necropsies unless I absolutely needed to. I just couldn't get over the hacking up every single part of the pet thing. If potential abdominal mass or something, I might have a friend do a cosmetic abdomen only explore type of necropsy. But that was really hard to do. The full necropsy. It made me really really sad
I get this. I couldn't send a pet to the university for a necropsy with the students doing it, partially because everything is practice - they may take out the brain just to practice doing that, or spinal cord. Knowing what the pluck is, I can't imagine that happening to my cat, you know? Maybe in some situation, but I didn't want it for my tracheal tumor kitty. Had it metastasized? I dunno. I guess I'll never know.
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
Well. It takes all kinds. It's a body. It will go through much worse things as it slowly decomposes underground or is burned to a crisp in the incinerator, although it seems people are totally cool with burial and cremation. That's how I look at it, at least. Just saying. We just don't run around "hacking" and "chopping" stuff up (yes sometimes force is needed for certain things, but those words irk me. We dissect. We do not "hack") without regard for where the body came from.
I didn't mean any disrespect by using the term "hack." To me it 'feels' like it, compared to how i handle my live patients, and that's a part of what bothers me I think. I don't expect you to see things the way i do, nor do I feel that here is a "right" or more superior way to think about it. I absolutely see the value in what you do. And I totally get your point of view and I agree with it. My 'feelings' are another story though.

I guess I was just trying to explain emotionally where the hangup is for me personally in terms of why euthanasia doesn't bother me but why necropsy does. I just could not imagine someone doing what is done on the necropsy floor on my personal cat's body. That would upset me at that moment 10x more than the moment of her euthanasia for some reason. Logically it makes no sense. No sense whatsoever, but I can't stop feeling that way about it.

Just as some people really get upset over a pet's eyes not closing after euthanasia even when prewarned, and even a lot of vets who are very disturbed by decapitations (e.g. I'm the only vet in my practice who will do them), there are just some things I for some reason hold sacred about my pets bodies. It's not like I'm religious or anything, but there's something very disturbing to me about many parts of a full necropsy at the gut level for my beloved pets. And I guess because I felt that way about my own pets, it just made me extra sad knowing that the owner of the pet on the table probably didn't know what was involved in the necropsy. I'm pretty sure that with my clientele, 90+% of those who wanted an answer would likely say no if they knew what was involved. For that reason, I take the time to suture up any post mortem biopsies, even for skin masses. I handle dead patients with the same care I do my live patients. I don't even let dead patients stay in the euthanasia room alone for very long at all when the client leaves. Does it make any sense? No, not at all. It's not like the owner will ever know, and it makes no difference to the pet whatsoever. The owners expect me to treat their pets' bodies the way I do, and would probably be upset if I didn't and they found out. They trust that I will, and that is partly why they are bonded to me.

It's bizarre, since I'm from an animal research background and was into lab animal medicine for some time, and it doesn't phase me at all using cadaver heads to practice dentistry on and such. Many of the things I did in research were extremely gruesome from that point of view, and I really didn't care. But for some odd reason, when it's for a pet that I consider a family member, it evokes a viscerally different reaction. It really defies logic. It's crazy, but that's just how it is for me, and I don't think that will ever change.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
I didn't mean any disrespect by using the term "hack." To me it 'feels' like it, compared to how i handle my live patients, and that's a part of what bothers me I think. I don't expect you to see things the way i do, nor do I feel that here is a "right" or more superior way to think about it. I absolutely see the value in what you do. And I totally get your point of view and I agree with it. My 'feelings' are another story though.

I guess I was just trying to explain emotionally where the hangup is for me personally in terms of why euthanasia doesn't bother me but why necropsy does. I just could not imagine someone doing what is done on the necropsy floor on my personal cat's body. That would upset me at that moment 10x more than the moment of her euthanasia for some reason. Logically it makes no sense. No sense whatsoever, but I can't stop feeling that way about it.

Just as some people really get upset over a pet's eyes not closing after euthanasia even when prewarned, and even a lot of vets who are very disturbed by decapitations (e.g. I'm the only vet in my practice who will do them), there are just some things I for some reason hold sacred about my pets bodies. It's not like I'm religious or anything, but there's something very disturbing to me about many parts of a full necropsy at the gut level for my beloved pets. And I guess because I felt that way about my own pets, it just made me extra sad knowing that the owner of the pet on the table probably didn't know what was involved in the necropsy. I'm pretty sure that with my clientele, 90+% of those who wanted an answer would likely say no if they knew what was involved. For that reason, I take the time to suture up any post mortem biopsies, even for skin masses. I handle dead patients with the same care I do my live patients. I don't even let dead patients stay in the euthanasia room alone for very long at all when the client leaves. Does it make any sense? No, not at all. It's not like the owner will ever know, and it makes no difference to the pet whatsoever. The owners expect me to treat their pets' bodies the way I do, and would probably be upset if I didn't and they found out. They trust that I will, and that is partly why they are bonded to me.

It's bizarre, since I'm from an animal research background and was into lab animal medicine for some time, and it doesn't phase me at all using cadaver heads to practice dentistry on and such. Many of the things I did in research were extremely gruesome from that point of view, and I really didn't care. But for some odd reason, when it's for a pet that I consider a family member, it evokes a viscerally different reaction. It really defies logic. It's crazy, but that's just how it is for me, and I don't think that will ever change.

I know. But it just makes me internally ball up my fists because there is so much we learn from necropsies. I'm not talking just students learning about disease (as important as that is), I'm talking about all the advances in the management, treatment, and diagnosis of all SORTS of diseases and conditions that has been made possible through pathology. I will be honest, I hate it (not the people, the decision) when people avoid it for emotional reasons. Of course, it is their choice and I respect that it is their choice. And on some level I understand. But I see some cases that holy ****, we could really learn something and help the next animal that comes in with this disease and it just.....argh.

If every owner knew every little thing that was involved in a necropsy, you are right, 90% of them would probably not want to do it. And that would blow the tires out of a lot of medical education, treatment optimization, disease characterization, etc that veterinary medicine desperately needs and will always need because we don't have the funds of human medicine.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: nyanko
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
It is also when I have the most meaningful client interactions. I can make a huge difference for them during a very difficult time.
As an aside, this is another area I find very difficult. I'm mostly research right now but I moonlight weekend call to keep my skills up. Part of that entails doing intake on outside cases, so I have had my fair share of upset or crying or yelling owners calling me because their dog/cat/horse/whatever just up and died. Where I did residency, I never had to talk to owners - the emergency people took in postmortems. I just came in the next day and did them. Having to speak directly with agitated/upset owners is not something I feel I am good at because I feel like I can't empathize enough. If it was actually during the euthanasia process that might be different. But when it's already dead....I mean...to me, it's just dead. Do you (and not just you, the question is open to anyone) have any...I don't know, tips? For dealing with this? I feel like I never say the right things, or I sound like I'm treating them like a kid who dropped their juicebox or something.

I want to reiterate that I'm not saying that anyone is bad or wrong for having these feelings; they are quite valid. I guess the best clinical comparison (and it's not the most accurate comparison but it's the closest thing I could come up with) to how I feel on the matter is say you have a dog with cancer, and you know that chemo could make a difference, but the owner is all "Oh, I don't want to put them through it etc etc"...you know it is their decision but it is frustrating. Again, not a perfect comparison, but that's the type of frustration I feel when I hear people (not directed specifically at anyone here, just in general) talking about how horrible/gross/whatever necropsy is and how they would never have it done. We try to treat them with as much respect as you detailed above, but because of the nature of what we have to do to them it simply can't physically be as "nice" or gentle.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni

LetItSnow

Skipping the light fandango
7+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2011
19,171
18,047
Plymouth, MN, USA
animaltracks.wordpress.com
Status
Veterinarian
But when it's already dead....I mean...to me, it's just dead. Do you (and not just you, the question is open to anyone) have any...I don't know, tips? For dealing with this? I feel like I never say the right things, or I sound like I'm treating them like a kid who dropped their juicebox or something.
I'm sure other people have much better advice, but in my (admittedly very limited - moreso than you for sure) experience, guilt is one of the worst aspects an owner experiences at the end of their pet's life, regardless of whether the death was planned/unexpected/whatever. So I try and alleviate it.

Whether it died naturally +/- unexpectedly, or whether it was euthanized, I try and somehow let the owner know that I recognize how much they cared for their pet. "I can see you guys really loved Fluffy; I know you gave her a wonderful home." Those kinds of words won't make them feel better in the moment, but they'll help them longer term because soooooo many clients deal with some level of guilt over whether they did enough, did the right thing, made the euthanasia call at the right time, etc ad infinitum.

We took in a HBC that was probably instantly killed (it was a mangled wreck): the owners were beating themselves up for letting the dog out without a leash. In some 'logical' sense yeah, it's partly their fault. But it's not like they let the dog out with an intent for it to get hurt. It just happened and it sucks. And so when they say "It's all my fault" I tell them it's not - that I know they loved Fluffy and they didn't want that to happen and sometimes bad things just happen, but that they gave Fluffy a great life while they could. Two days ago I did an enucleation after the foster dog went after the owner's little Shih Tzu and the little dog's eye went sproink. The owner was sobbing: "It's all my fault for taking in the foster dog." Well, yeah, it technically is. But it's not like that was her INTENT, nor did she MAKE the foster dog go after Fluffy. And so I tell her that and try and alleviate the guilt and point out "Hey, Fluffy was already blind. This won't change her life one single bit. I'll take the eye out, she'll heal up, and she'll be 100% as good as before, except piratey. You didn't want this to happen. It's not your fault."

Maybe I didn't say piratey, but for a certain type of client I definitely would. Guilt SUCKS, and I don't want my clients suffering from it.

Anyway, WTF, even though necropsy is something I couldn't do emotionally (at least, the gross necropsy portion of it - I'd be ok with the microscopic), I do regularly offer it to owners. I understand the value of it. I do caution owners that it's not like TV where you always get a quick, precise answer for what happened. If that ends up steering a few people away from necropsy ... well, I (truly) regret it, but my priority has to be my client's well-being. I don't want them feeling even worse if they get back an inconclusive necropsy report so I prepare them for that possibility.

Every once in a while if I'm pretty sure an animal bled out from a splenic mass or whatever, I do offer to take a quick look with the ultrasound (free) for owners, but I always let them know it's a best guess answer and that necropsy may give them more information. But sometimes that's enough to help them move on in those cases where the animal just dropped dead at home.
 
Last edited:

CalliopeDVM

7+ Year Member
Nov 21, 2010
937
719
Toronto, ON
Status
Veterinarian
As an aside, this is another area I find very difficult. I'm mostly research right now but I moonlight weekend call to keep my skills up. Part of that entails doing intake on outside cases, so I have had my fair share of upset or crying or yelling owners calling me because their dog/cat/horse/whatever just up and died. Where I did residency, I never had to talk to owners - the emergency people took in postmortems. I just came in the next day and did them. Having to speak directly with agitated/upset owners is not something I feel I am good at because I feel like I can't empathize enough. If it was actually during the euthanasia process that might be different. But when it's already dead....I mean...to me, it's just dead. Do you (and not just you, the question is open to anyone) have any...I don't know, tips? For dealing with this? I feel like I never say the right things, or I sound like I'm treating them like a kid who dropped their juicebox or something.

I want to reiterate that I'm not saying that anyone is bad or wrong for having these feelings; they are quite valid. I guess the best clinical comparison (and it's not the most accurate comparison but it's the closest thing I could come up with) to how I feel on the matter is say you have a dog with cancer, and you know that chemo could make a difference, but the owner is all "Oh, I don't want to put them through it etc etc"...you know it is their decision but it is frustrating. Again, not a perfect comparison, but that's the type of frustration I feel when I hear people (not directed specifically at anyone here, just in general) talking about how horrible/gross/whatever necropsy is and how they would never have it done. We try to treat them with as much respect as you detailed above, but because of the nature of what we have to do to them it simply can't physically be as "nice" or gentle.

Yup, it's just dead. I don't have any particular feelings of respect for a dead body -- nobody's home anymore and it's just a dead body. But the crying/anger/despair/denial isn't really about the body, it's about the loss of the relationship with that animal and the body is the physical reminder of that relationship. So I've learned to respect their feelings, even if I don't share them. (I do that a lot as a GP, because there are many varieties of relationships with animals I see. I try to respect their relationship with their dog, for instance, whether it is as employee, child substitute, emotional support, fun companion, or best friend, etc --- even when their relationship with their dog is different than my relationship with my dog. Unless their relationship is harming the animal, of course.) The more clients I've met, the more I've come to see and understand these different relationships, especially the strong emotional ties -- the dog that used to lay next to the owner while she was recovering from a chemo appointment, the cat that helped owners manage with their learning-disabled child, or even (once) a pet rat that helped someone get used living alone for the first time when she moved away to go to university. Now, even if I don't know the specifics, I understand that there could be a back history that I don't know about and might help explain their grief.

Remember anger and depression are both typical stages of grief that everyone goes through - whether it's for the death of a person, an animal, a relationship, or even a dream. (2 or the 5 stages of grief)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jamr0ckin

Okimo

SDN Bronze Donor
Bronze Donor
7+ Year Member
Oct 3, 2012
1,382
838
Status
Resident [Any Field]
After my necropsy rotation, I decided that I would never submit my pets for full necropsies unless I absolutely needed to. I just couldn't get over the hacking up every single part of the pet thing. If potential abdominal mass or something, I might have a friend do a cosmetic abdomen only explore type of necropsy. But that was really hard to do. The full necropsy. It made me really really sad
I find this really interesting. Tomorrow is the last day of my diagnostic pathology rotation and I've found it so fascinating. I loved every second of necropsies, cytologies, hematology, chemistry interpretation, histopathology (okay, maybe that part was a little more frustrating at times). I really loved it so much more than I expected and I've shocked myself and found myself considering pathology as a career choice. After seeing the necropsies I've seen, I would always want to send my pets in to have one done.
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
I find this really interesting. Tomorrow is the last day of my diagnostic pathology rotation and I've found it so fascinating. I loved every second of necropsies, cytologies, hematology, chemistry interpretation, histopathology (okay, maybe that part was a little more frustrating at times). I really loved it so much more than I expected and I've shocked myself and found myself considering pathology as a career choice. After seeing the necropsies I've seen, I would always want to send my pets in to have one done.
I mean really, to each his own. There's a huge variation in how people deal with and react to death. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to feel about it.

When my kitty dies of likely CHF or ATE from her HCM, or a random cancer or something, I just really can't stomach the thought of her eye being taken out, her pluck collected, head sectioned, femur broken for bone marrow, etc... Even for the small chance that whoever is doing the necropsy decides to use her for something that advances medicine. For me, it would be another story if there was a defined purpose ahead of time. If there was a study that I knew she would be a part of, and particularly if it would be one where sample size would be limited, I would say sure that would be a great way to honor her life or whatever.

I'm so pathologically attached to this cat, who knows what I will do in my moment of grief. I could very well be that person who sleeps with the dead body for a night or so... Or turns her into a taxidermied helicopter. Why that might appeal to me more than a necropsy at that time, who the f knows... I'd like to think that I'm a sane enough person to stop myself, but I have some doubts.

It's similar to how I view my own body. I will gladly donate my organs if I were to suddenly become brain dead and that were an option. Or if I had a particular condition where my body would be of value to study. But otherwise, I'm not one to just donate my body to science for general purposes because I think it would really help my family's grieving process to not do that. My BF on the other hand really wants his body donated to science (partly because he is a scientist, but I think mostly because he thinks the costs associated with death are ludicrous and he under no circumstances wants anyone to invest in a casket...). Whatever floats his boat.
 

Okimo

SDN Bronze Donor
Bronze Donor
7+ Year Member
Oct 3, 2012
1,382
838
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I mean really, to each his own. There's a huge variation in how people deal with and react to death. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to feel about it.

When my kitty dies of likely CHF or ATE from her HCM, or a random cancer or something, I just really can't stomach the thought of her eye being taken out, her pluck collected, head sectioned, femur broken for bone marrow, etc... Even for the small chance that whoever is doing the necropsy decides to use her for something that advances medicine. For me, it would be another story if there was a defined purpose ahead of time. If there was a study that I knew she would be a part of, and particularly if it would be one where sample size would be limited, I would say sure that would be a great way to honor her life or whatever.

I'm so pathologically attached to this cat, who knows what I will do in my moment of grief. I could very well be that person who sleeps with the dead body for a night or so... Or turns her into a taxidermied helicopter. Why that might appeal to me more than a necropsy at that time, who the f knows... I'd like to think that I'm a sane enough person to stop myself, but I have some doubts.

It's similar to how I view my own body. I will gladly donate my organs if I were to suddenly become brain dead and that were an option. Or if I had a particular condition where my body would be of value to study. But otherwise, I'm not one to just donate my body to science for general purposes because I think it would really help my family's grieving process to not do that. My BF on the other hand really wants his body donated to science (partly because he is a scientist, but I think mostly because he thinks the costs associated with death are ludicrous and he under no circumstances wants anyone to invest in a casket...). Whatever floats his boat.
Yeah, I completely agree with you. Just like everyone processes death in their own way, everyone is going to feel different about what is done with a body (whether a pet or a human family member). There's no right or wrong way to feel about the issue.
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
I will be honest, I hate it (not the people, the decision) when people avoid it for emotional reasons. Of course, it is their choice and I respect that it is their choice. And on some level I understand. But I see some cases that holy ****, we could really learn something and help the next animal that comes in with this disease and it just.....argh.
I see your point, and again don't disagree about the value of what you do. However, the feelings of pathologists/researchers and possible advances in medicine are way less important to me personally than the feelings of the grieving people in front of me. I offer necropsies and post mortem diagnostics, but if the owner doesn't want it, I don't think negatively of their decision. If it's a case where I really wanted to know what happened, I ask if they would mind if I post'd the animal even if they didn't want to know. If they say no, I let it go and don't think twice about it.

If every owner knew every little thing that was involved in a necropsy, you are right, 90% of them would probably not want to do it. And that would blow the tires out of a lot of medical education, treatment optimization, disease characterization, etc that veterinary medicine desperately needs and will always need because we don't have the funds of human medicine.
I'm not advocating that they know or find out. And I certainly don't explain these things to the owners unprompted. I don't in any way dissuade owners from pursuing a necropsy or not recommend it because of that. I think it is better that they not know. I was just explaining why I personally did not like being on the floor. It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else.

As an aside, this is another area I find very difficult. I'm mostly research right now but I moonlight weekend call to keep my skills up. Part of that entails doing intake on outside cases, so I have had my fair share of upset or crying or yelling owners calling me because their dog/cat/horse/whatever just up and died. Where I did residency, I never had to talk to owners - the emergency people took in postmortems. I just came in the next day and did them. Having to speak directly with agitated/upset owners is not something I feel I am good at because I feel like I can't empathize enough. If it was actually during the euthanasia process that might be different. But when it's already dead....I mean...to me, it's just dead. Do you (and not just you, the question is open to anyone) have any...I don't know, tips? For dealing with this? I feel like I never say the right things, or I sound like I'm treating them like a kid who dropped their juicebox or something.
For some reason, these are the cases where I get random gifts and cards of gratitude more often than not, so I think it can make a huge difference to the owner to have someone talk to them. I'm always amazed when I get a heartfelt thank you from a non client that presented a DOA that I literally spoke with for 10 min, that I personally didn't think much of. Because I had no real involvement with the case, I usually don't even remember until someone tells me that it was the DOA from last tues or whatever. I swear I get fewer thank yous from the patients I performed medical miracles on...

I usually start out expressing my condolences and ask what happened. And I do try to ask questions here and there to show that I am invested in understanding what's going on. Usually these cases for me come for death confirmation and body disposal, and sending in for necropsy at the teaching hospital an hour away is not something they're interested in. If it was an unexpected death situation, the owners really want some sort of plausible explanation. When I first eval the dead patient, I usually do a PE to see if I can get clues as to cause of death. For a pet with distended abdomen, I'll quickly do a quick stick to see if there's effusion. I obviously tell the owners I can't tell for sure what happened, but I try my best to put together a plausible story or two for what happened based on the PE, signalment, and history. A lot of people get a good amount of closure from that. For my cases, they usually don't really care what actually happened, but there's some void and discord that somehow disappears when a possible explanation is presented.

I also ask if they've had the pet since it was a puppy/kitten and comment on how lucky they were to have had such a wonderful home, or the long loving life they've had. I let them share the puppy stories and whatnot. If it was a rescue, I comment on that. If it was an untimely death, I comment on what a bummer that was.

If they were feeling any sort of guilt, I try to assuage that (unless it really was a case of neglect, then I don't... but either way, I don't say anything to make them feel guilty.)


I guess the best clinical comparison (and it's not the most accurate comparison but it's the closest thing I could come up with) to how I feel on the matter is say you have a dog with cancer, and you know that chemo could make a difference, but the owner is all "Oh, I don't want to put them through it etc etc"...you know it is their decision but it is frustrating. Again, not a perfect comparison, but that's the type of frustration I feel when I hear people (not directed specifically at anyone here, just in general) talking about how horrible/gross/whatever necropsy is and how they would never have it done.
I think this is where you and I differ. As long as the pet is euthanized at an appropriate time without prolonged suffering, it doesn't matter to me what treatment the owner chooses to take or not to take as long as they are informed decisions for whatever reason they have. If the "I don't want to put her through it" is euphemism for the owner doesn't want to deal with it, fine I don't care. If it's because they think the pet will actually feel ill from chemo or whatever, I will address that because otherwise that's not a well informed decision. The diabetics that won't go on insulin, FLUTD/blocked cats, or the untreated hyperthyroid or cruciate pets suck... But at least they're coming in to be evaluated and counseled. And as much as it's not optimal, euthanasia is always a legitimate treatment option if rehoming isn't a viable option and QOL is a problem. Unless the pet is being neglected to the point of suffering (broken bone/ruptured eye with no care, etc...), I let it go. I can't let these things bother me or else I will literally go mental.

We try to treat them with as much respect as you detailed above, but because of the nature of what we have to do to them it simply can't physically be as "nice" or gentle.
I don't think I ever said that you don't try or can. It doesn't change that I don't like it, which again is personal preference/emotional response. Really is not a critique of you or what you do. Sorry if it seemed that way. I don't mean to offend with my feelings.
 

lailanni

c/o 2012
10+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2007
1,032
181
Status
Veterinarian
I mean really, to each his own. There's a huge variation in how people deal with and react to death. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to feel about it.

When my kitty dies of likely CHF or ATE from her HCM, or a random cancer or something, I just really can't stomach the thought of her eye being taken out, her pluck collected, head sectioned, femur broken for bone marrow, etc... Even for the small chance that whoever is doing the necropsy decides to use her for something that advances medicine. For me, it would be another story if there was a defined purpose ahead of time. If there was a study that I knew she would be a part of, and particularly if it would be one where sample size would be limited, I would say sure that would be a great way to honor her life or whatever.

I'm so pathologically attached to this cat, who knows what I will do in my moment of grief. I could very well be that person who sleeps with the dead body for a night or so... Or turns her into a taxidermied helicopter. Why that might appeal to me more than a necropsy at that time, who the f knows... I'd like to think that I'm a sane enough person to stop myself, but I have some doubts.
I'm on the same page with you. And FWIW, when my last pet died I had him PTS at home - then same day I personally took him to the crematorium and was able to physically place him into the machine for a private cremation. (The crematorium we use allows that with an extra fee) When he was declining health, I knew I would have emotional difficulty putting him into a plastic garbage sack and sticking him in the freezer for days before the cremation pick up arrived. I couldn't bear the thought of my little friend in a trash bag at the bottom of the freezer. I know it doesn't make any logical sense because dead is dead. But emotionally, it was a big help for me. And a similar line of emotional thinking would prevent me from having my animals necropsied. (But also like Minnerbelle I'd probably change my mind if there was a study that could really benefit from it.)

I always offer clients the option to necropsy if they have any medical questions surrounding the death. I don't describe the process beyond "collecting samples so we can try to find out what happened" (and no one really asks for details on that). Having an answer can be just as valuable to someone as it was for me to take my pet to the crematorium.

Also FWIW, @WhtsThFrequency I'm glad you do what you do :) It's not something I'm cut out for (hahaha, pun intended) and I can appreciate someone else doing it well!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Minnerbelle
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
I know. And I'm sorry I let this thread go off track a little. I've just gone through a grumpy period recently because of a succession of students who made it very clear that they disliked necropsy (and histology) intensely and thought it was totally irrelevant because they were going to be hot shot surgeons or some ****.

I can't help but be a little defensive of it because honestly....very few people really are interested it or enjoy it, and most people (students especially) can act very negatively towards it. I don't teach to make people love pathology; I really don't - I know that only a few do and I am under no illusions here. But it can wear you down and make you defensive when you are surrounded by negativity towards your passion (not that anyone specifically was really negative here, but there were words and phrases that were very similar to some of the comments I do get).

Imagine for a second if this field that you loved was considered uncomfortable and gross at best and hellacious as worst by a large portion of the veterinary population. Most of the students on path rotation are dreading it and hating it. It's not like surgery or medicine or derm or optho where everyone is super excited and interested. It's extra hard to remain an optimistic and upbeat teacher in these cases. I mean, I do a pretty good job of it, or at least my evaluations from the students say so. I'm not nearly as grumpy in person as I can be on here ;) But it can sometimes be depressing, I gotta admit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni

lailanni

c/o 2012
10+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2007
1,032
181
Status
Veterinarian
I know. And I'm sorry I let this thread go off track a little. I've just gone through a grumpy period recently because of a succession of students who made it very clear that they disliked necropsy (and histology) intensely and thought it was totally irrelevant because they were going to be hot shot surgeons or some ****.

I can't help but be a little defensive of it because honestly....very few people really are interested it or enjoy it, and most people (students especially) can act very negatively towards it. I don't teach to make people love pathology; I really don't - I know that only a few do and I am under no illusions here. But it can wear you down and make you defensive when you are surrounded by negativity towards your passion (not that anyone specifically was really negative here, but there were words and phrases that were very similar to some of the comments I do get).

Imagine for a second if this field that you loved was considered uncomfortable and gross at best and hellacious as worst by a large portion of the veterinary population. Most of the students on path rotation are dreading it and hating it. It's not like surgery or medicine or derm or optho where everyone is super excited and interested. It's extra hard to remain an optimistic and upbeat teacher in these cases. I mean, I do a pretty good job of it, or at least my evaluations from the students say so. I'm not nearly as grumpy in person as I can be on here ;) But it can sometimes be depressing, I gotta admit.
Totally understandable. And I apologize on behalf of vets and vet students for the negativity. Necropsy may not be our niche, but we should treat you with the respect that you and your field deserves. There are some words/phrases that get my hackles up when people talk about vet med, so I have empathy from a parallel viewpoint.

It's a bummer students have a negative perception of pathology at your place. It was considered cool at my school. Mostly because one of our instructors was a total awesome badass who everyone compared to Chuck Norris. (It's a small world, do you know Dr. Leathers at WSU?) I mean, pretty much everyone adored this guy. He's quiet and witty - a great teacher and clearly brilliant. I didn't like being on the necropsy floor, but I did enjoy learning about the lesions. He made it cool and interesting, like being a detective. His classes were never skipped; that guy kept butts in seats.

Also it gets a great review from 4th years because there's no patient care ;) I think ortho sx was the rotation at my school where everyone was like "ugggh nooooooo." Heavy case load, never going to participate the surgery besides retracting and a ton of patient care.
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
Totally understandable. And I apologize on behalf of vets and vet students for the negativity. Necropsy may not be our niche, but we should treat you with the respect that you and your field deserves. There are some words/phrases that get my hackles up when people talk about vet med, so I have empathy from a parallel viewpoint.

It's a bummer students have a negative perception of pathology at your place. It was considered cool at my school. Mostly because one of our instructors was a total awesome badass who everyone compared to Chuck Norris. (It's a small world, do you know Dr. Leathers at WSU?) I mean, pretty much everyone adored this guy. He's quiet and witty - a great teacher and clearly brilliant. I didn't like being on the necropsy floor, but I did enjoy learning about the lesions. He made it cool and interesting, like being a detective. His classes were never skipped; that guy kept butts in seats.

Also it gets a great review from 4th years because there's no patient care ;) I think ortho sx was the rotation at my school where everyone was like "ugggh nooooooo." Heavy case load, never going to participate the surgery besides retracting and a ton of patient care.
They haven't in the past, because most of the pathologists who teach here are really good and make it enjoyable. It was just kind of a bad run recently, I think.

I don't know him but two of our pathologists here did their residencies+PhDs at WSU and they are awesome. They put out some good people there.
 

Coquette22

Shinigami
7+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2009
4,012
3,219
Nova Scotia
www.instagram.com
Status
Veterinarian
After seeing the necropsies I've seen, I would always want to send my pets in to have one done.
This has been a fascinating discussion and I just want to use this as a jumping off point. You may feel differently when it's your pet - and that's okay. I have always been a staunch advocate of necropsy (human or animal), organ donation, etc. After all, it's dead and it's just going to rot right?

Then my dad died, and he was listed as an organ donor plus the death was unwitnessed so they required an autopsy anyway. And they sent us the letter thanking us and telling us what they had used for donation. I had a moment of white hot irrational rage: That's my dad. You can't just cut up my dad and take pieces! I actually shocked myself with how I reacted for that moment. I did calm down, and actually still have that letter. My point to all of this is that you may be irrational and emotional when it is your own pet, and that's okay.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Minnerbelle
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Interesting turn of the conversation here! I feel like I have learned a lot about necropsy. I personally do not wish to go into this field of veterinarian medicine but I am happy there are veterinarians who do. That is what I think is so great about this profession. Can any of you provide insight on whether a person who does not like the idea of euthanizing animals can still make an impact on the veterinarian profession? Obviously necropsy is an area where the impact is huge for scientific advances. It just isn't an area I wish to pursue. What are some other options?

I really like how this thread has let everyone show their differences in personality and in turn how those differences helped them to find their niche and where they fit best within the profession. I have been told in the past that "Veterinarian medicine isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" but I don't feel like that is always true. I would personally rephrase it as "General practice isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" Of course it is a part of the profession, and it is a gift for animals who are suffering and need the relief that only death may bring. I just know my personality. I know I would struggle with it emotionally. I would be far happier in a specialty that does not euthanize as often as GP or emergency. For those of you who have seen a vast array of specialties within the profession, can you provide insight on the areas of vet med that euthanize a lot and the areas that do not? I want to have a good understanding of my options within the field before I embark on this journey.
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
This has been a fascinating discussion and I just want to use this as a jumping off point. You may feel differently when it's your pet - and that's okay. I have always been a staunch advocate of necropsy (human or animal), organ donation, etc. After all, it's dead and it's just going to rot right?

Then my dad died, and he was listed as an organ donor plus the death was unwitnessed so they required an autopsy anyway. And they sent us the letter thanking us and telling us what they had used for donation. I had a moment of white hot irrational rage: That's my dad. You can't just cut up my dad and take pieces! I actually shocked myself with how I reacted for that moment. I did calm down, and actually still have that letter. My point to all of this is that you may be irrational and emotional when it is your own pet, and that's okay.
Yeah I can definitely see that. When our first rabbit had to be put to sleep, part of me wanted to do one because I wanted to see for myself if the retroorbital abscess he had had come back and spread to the brain, which was my suspicion. Not out of pure curiosity, but more that it would have given me a little closure. But my fiance was so upset with the entire thing (Herbert was more his rabbit than mine) I didn't even bring it up. Seriously, when you are watching a 6ft 200lb guy with a viking beard bawl his eyes out over a little white bunny, that's the last thing you are going ask about. And if it was my own dog, who I am almost pathologically attached to (no pun intended)....I have to admit even I would be reluctant. I would have to be the one to do it; I wouldn't let anyone else do it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni
Jan 18, 2006
16,876
14,949
Status
Veterinarian
Interesting turn of the conversation here! I feel like I have learned a lot about necropsy. I personally do not wish to go into this field of veterinarian medicine but I am happy there are veterinarians who do. That is what I think is so great about this profession. Can any of you provide insight on whether a person who does not like the idea of euthanizing animals can still make an impact on the veterinarian profession? Obviously necropsy is an area where the impact is huge for scientific advances. It just isn't an area I wish to pursue. What are some other options?

I really like how this thread has let everyone show their differences in personality and in turn how those differences helped them to find their niche and where they fit best within the profession. I have been told in the past that "Veterinarian medicine isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" but I don't feel like that is always true. I would personally rephrase it as "General practice isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" Of course it is a part of the profession, and it is a gift for animals who are suffering and need the relief that only death may bring. I just know my personality. I know I would struggle with it emotionally. I would be far happier in a specialty that does not euthanize as often as GP or emergency. For those of you who have seen a vast array of specialties within the profession, can you provide insight on the areas of vet med that euthanize a lot and the areas that do not? I want to have a good understanding of my options within the field before I embark on this journey.
I think your best bets would probably be radiology, dermatology, nutrition, and perhaps optho and therio.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lailanni

dyachei

vet robot pirate zombie
Staff member
Administrator
10+ Year Member
Mar 9, 2007
24,778
18,148
Status
Veterinarian
FWIW, I thoroughly enjoyed the learning aspect of my path rotation. And took a lot of good away from it. Even if I didn't necessarily want to do the horse cases (more because it was tiring than anything else). At least in my class, there were only a few disrespectful enough to actually verbalize it near residents/pathologists.
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
870
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
Interesting turn of the conversation here! I feel like I have learned a lot about necropsy. I personally do not wish to go into this field of veterinarian medicine but I am happy there are veterinarians who do. That is what I think is so great about this profession. Can any of you provide insight on whether a person who does not like the idea of euthanizing animals can still make an impact on the veterinarian profession? Obviously necropsy is an area where the impact is huge for scientific advances. It just isn't an area I wish to pursue. What are some other options?

I really like how this thread has let everyone show their differences in personality and in turn how those differences helped them to find their niche and where they fit best within the profession. I have been told in the past that "Veterinarian medicine isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" but I don't feel like that is always true. I would personally rephrase it as "General practice isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" Of course it is a part of the profession, and it is a gift for animals who are suffering and need the relief that only death may bring. I just know my personality. I know I would struggle with it emotionally. I would be far happier in a specialty that does not euthanize as often as GP or emergency. For those of you who have seen a vast array of specialties within the profession, can you provide insight on the areas of vet med that euthanize a lot and the areas that do not? I want to have a good understanding of my options within the field before I embark on this journey.
I'd definitely advise you to steer clear of lab animal medicine and food animal practice. The massive de-population of livestock facilities that are currently occurring in the US as a result of infectious disease would probably send you into a tailspin. Epidemiology is an option, if you're a research type. In this field, you wouldn't directly euthanize animals but you would study the patterns of their death within and between populations. I'd agree with the others- Ophtho, Derm, and Radio would be good bets. I'd also add Behavior and Nutrition. Think long and hard about what you want to do as a doctor (as opposed to interacting with animals) in order to guide your specialty of choice. Different specialties have different stakeholders, which govern the tenor of your interpersonal interactions. How are your people skills? Are you interested in a field with significant 'pet owner' interaction, as opposed to a different stakeholder group (farm managers, principal investigators, etc.). I've said it before and I'll just restate it here. In vet school, you'll be confronted with the realities of many practices which may upset your sense of order. You need to be respectful of these fields, and understand why things work the way they do in those sectors, to be successful in the profession. In my research career, I never forced a student assistant to euthanize animals, but I did require that they be present when I completed at least one if not several acts of euthanasia. In my opinion, you can't claim involvement with only the 'good' parts of the project- you need to, at the very least, be present for all phases- including those a person may find uncomfortable and off putting. If said student refused, I'd politely refer them to another lab for their experience. You can't have it both ways.
 
Last edited:

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
870
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
I know. And I'm sorry I let this thread go off track a little. I've just gone through a grumpy period recently because of a succession of students who made it very clear that they disliked necropsy (and histology) intensely and thought it was totally irrelevant because they were going to be hot shot surgeons or some ****.

I can't help but be a little defensive of it because honestly....very few people really are interested it or enjoy it, and most people (students especially) can act very negatively towards it. I don't teach to make people love pathology; I really don't - I know that only a few do and I am under no illusions here. But it can wear you down and make you defensive when you are surrounded by negativity towards your passion (not that anyone specifically was really negative here, but there were words and phrases that were very similar to some of the comments I do get).

Imagine for a second if this field that you loved was considered uncomfortable and gross at best and hellacious as worst by a large portion of the veterinary population. Most of the students on path rotation are dreading it and hating it. It's not like surgery or medicine or derm or optho where everyone is super excited and interested. It's extra hard to remain an optimistic and upbeat teacher in these cases. I mean, I do a pretty good job of it, or at least my evaluations from the students say so. I'm not nearly as grumpy in person as I can be on here ;) But it can sometimes be depressing, I gotta admit.
WTF- I love path. I worked part time in Necropsy this summer (actually doing research work for a SA surgeon), but I hung out with a lot of the path folks and learned a ton. I'm enjoying my 2nd year general path course, and am looking forward to clin and systemic path in the spring. There's a lot of path in lab animal, so I'm glad that I enjoy it. Don't let the haters get you down ;)
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Thanks everyone. I think my biggest interests so far are zoo medicine and rehab. I hear that rehab is relatively new and is growing quickly too. If any of you know more about the vet rehab profession I would love to hear about it. I definitely do not want to go into lab animal/food animal practice.

If any of you own your own practice, I am interested in hearing about what that is like as well. How much did the profession change for you when you became an owner? Did you feel more empowered and free to practice medicine the way you wanted to?

Anyone, feel free to give me any information about your experience as a veterinarian. I would love to hear it.

:happy:
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
Thanks everyone. I think my biggest interests so far are zoo medicine and rehab. I hear that rehab is relatively new and is growing quickly too. If any of you know more about the vet rehab profession I would love to hear about it. I definitely do not want to go into lab animal/food animal practice.

If any of you own your own practice, I am interested in hearing about what that is like as well. How much did the profession change for you when you became an owner? Did you feel more empowered and free to practice medicine the way you wanted to?

Anyone, feel free to give me any information about your experience as a veterinarian. I would love to hear it.

:happy:
I would steer clear of zoo med if you don't like euthanasia..
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
I know. And I'm sorry I let this thread go off track a little. I've just gone through a grumpy period recently because of a succession of students who made it very clear that they disliked necropsy (and histology) intensely and thought it was totally irrelevant because they were going to be hot shot surgeons or some ****.

I can't help but be a little defensive of it because honestly....very few people really are interested it or enjoy it, and most people (students especially) can act very negatively towards it. I don't teach to make people love pathology; I really don't - I know that only a few do and I am under no illusions here. But it can wear you down and make you defensive when you are surrounded by negativity towards your passion (not that anyone specifically was really negative here, but there were words and phrases that were very similar to some of the comments I do get).

Imagine for a second if this field that you loved was considered uncomfortable and gross at best and hellacious as worst by a large portion of the veterinary population. Most of the students on path rotation are dreading it and hating it. It's not like surgery or medicine or derm or optho where everyone is super excited and interested. It's extra hard to remain an optimistic and upbeat teacher in these cases. I mean, I do a pretty good job of it, or at least my evaluations from the students say so. I'm not nearly as grumpy in person as I can be on here ;) But it can sometimes be depressing, I gotta admit.
I think your issue really is ****ty students and no so much that they didn't like path. That's just disrespectful. You don't need to like something to be engaged and learn from the experience. Just because I didn't enjoy doing necropsies, or pooper scoopering, or holding a stupid horse's leg up during a three hour procedure or whatever, I would never have showed it. I always made the best of my situation and committed 110%. I studied the **** out of my path rotation more so than during any of my other clinical rotations. For path, I had awesome reviews and had comments from the pathologists about how engaged and participatory I was. I was always evaluated very highly when it came to attitude, professionalism, and teamwork and whatever. I figured those were just gimme points, until I heard multiple classmates bitch about how they were docked points in those. Of course it's the ones bitching who get lackluster evals for those...

I mean I get it to a certain extent. As a student passionate about GP and dentistry in an academic institution where faculty and students alike regarded GPs as second rate vets who weren't good enough for specialty practice, I got a good dose of that. It pissed me off to no end when I kept being asked why I was throwing my career away. Oh the disdain you could see on some of the faculty's faces that they didn't even bother to hide. Either that or faculty just assumed I was a bad student who wasn't cut out for it at the beginning of the rotation when I was the one or one of two students on the rotation who wasn't interested in pursuing an internship. Every time, I wanted to be like **** you dude! I've always been in the top quartile of my class, I had pretty much all A's and excellent/honors on all my rotations, and my publications list is more 'prestigious' than most of yours will ever be from a mainstream scientist's point of view just from my short stint in research. It's not that I don't care. I was one of the first students in the hospital in the AM, and one of the last ones to leave because I always went above and beyond for patient care, took ownership of my cases, and was proactive about all the paperwork and ****. Just because I wasn't a gunner/glory ***** or a kiss ass (I didn't have to be because I wasn't hoping for a LOR or anything), it doesn't mean I wasn't driven. I just think at this point in my career, I am best suited to be a GP, and it's something I'm really passionate about. The nicest response I ever got about that was pity. I think we just have to keep on trucking and ignore the haters. Esp true for most people in the vet profession in general, we do what we do because we are passionate about it, not for approval from others. It does suck when it feels like you're ostracized even within this group, but it is what it is i guess.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WhtsThFrequency

DVMDream

DVMNightmare
10+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
38,634
26,100
The Dragon School
Status
Veterinarian
I know. And I'm sorry I let this thread go off track a little. I've just gone through a grumpy period recently because of a succession of students who made it very clear that they disliked necropsy (and histology) intensely and thought it was totally irrelevant because they were going to be hot shot surgeons or some ****.

I can't help but be a little defensive of it because honestly....very few people really are interested it or enjoy it, and most people (students especially) can act very negatively towards it. I don't teach to make people love pathology; I really don't - I know that only a few do and I am under no illusions here. But it can wear you down and make you defensive when you are surrounded by negativity towards your passion (not that anyone specifically was really negative here, but there were words and phrases that were very similar to some of the comments I do get).

Imagine for a second if this field that you loved was considered uncomfortable and gross at best and hellacious as worst by a large portion of the veterinary population. Most of the students on path rotation are dreading it and hating it. It's not like surgery or medicine or derm or optho where everyone is super excited and interested. It's extra hard to remain an optimistic and upbeat teacher in these cases. I mean, I do a pretty good job of it, or at least my evaluations from the students say so. I'm not nearly as grumpy in person as I can be on here ;) But it can sometimes be depressing, I gotta admit.
Clin path/Necropsy is my very last rotation at the school. I'm looking forward to it (I would much rather do a month of clin path/Necropsy and take away 2 weeks of our required 6 weeks of surgery).

I honestly feel like I lean a LOT when discussing pathology so I really enjoy it.
 

Minnerbelle

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
5,262
3,063
Status
Veterinary Student
Can any of you provide insight on whether a person who does not like the idea of euthanizing animals can still make an impact on the veterinarian profession? Obviously necropsy is an area where the impact is huge for scientific advances. It just isn't an area I wish to pursue. What are some other options?

[...] I have been told in the past that "Veterinarian medicine isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" but I don't feel like that is always true. I would personally rephrase it as "General practice isn't for you if you dislike euthanasia" Of course it is a part of the profession, and it is a gift for animals who are suffering and need the relief that only death may bring. I just know my personality. I know I would struggle with it emotionally. I would be far happier in a specialty that does not euthanize as often as GP or emergency. For those of you who have seen a vast array of specialties within the profession, can you provide insight on the areas of vet med that euthanize a lot and the areas that do not? I want to have a good understanding of my options within the field before I embark on this journey.
I think you should really do a soul search and kind of think about what you're saying here.

You keep essentially saying that you're not interested in any of the aspects of vet med that does not involve patient care because you want that animal interaction. But you don't want to euthanize animals. If patient care is involved in ANY clinical specialty within vet med, quality of life is very important, and that comes hand in hand with euthanasia. Regardless of whether your specialty deals with more or less of them, that's an integral part of any patient care. Even for like rehab specialists, QOL is often at the forefront of what they do, and end of life decisions have to be made. Is it really all that different for you if someone else does the euthanasia for your patient, when you are the one dealing with the QOL discussions with the owners on a regular basis? Even Dermatologists have euthanasia for poorly controlled allergies and the like, which is like the saddest thing in the whole entire world. That must be like the epitome of depressing.

I dunno, you just kind of sound like someone who doesn't have a very good grasp of the profession. Rather than having people give short paraphrases about a bunch of specialties for which I don't think you have enough background knowledge to digest, I think you need to get more experience in general and sort some things out.
 
OP
Sciencenerd10
Jul 5, 2015
48
0
Minnerbelle,

The reason I am asking questions of the sort is because I am doing a lot of soul searching currently and researching as much as I can. I am shadowing at various vet offices and trying to get a good grasp on what certain specialties entail of. It isn't as easy getting observation time with a specialist. I am not going into this career field blindly. I am graduating soon with my bachelors and I am taking a year off from school to really sort things out, gain more experiences in various fields (vet med being one of them) and then I will feel more confident making my decision. I ask about euthanasia because it is a very important aspect of the career. Euthanasia (usually convenience or financial euthanasia) is one of the more common reasons many vets say they become depressed or burnt out. So I believe it is wise to consider this topic heavily. I want to know all the opportunities vet medicine has to offer and I want to learn more about the opportunities that require less euthanasia because that is probably what I will enjoy most. That is why I am asking vets on this forum to help bring some insight about the different fields within vet medicine.

Why shouldn't I go into zoo medicine if I dislike euthanasia? I know there will be some euthanasia with very ill patients in zoo medicine, but I would think you don't have to deal with the sad problem of financial euthanasia or convenience euthanasia. I have researched convenience euthanasia in zoos and from what I read it is highly frowned upon and not a commonality.

I am trying to get a good grasp of the profession...which is why I am doing all the research I can and asking veterinarians on this forum what certain fields are like and what to expect. I am not saying I am anti-euthanasia. Pathology was attractive to WTF in part because it had less euthanasia. It is all about personality and where you fit in best within the field. So I am just trying to gain more insight into the different areas of vet med.
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
7+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2011
744
870
Massachusetts
Status
Veterinarian
Why shouldn't I go into zoo medicine if I dislike euthanasia? I know there will be some euthanasia with very ill patients in zoo medicine, but I would think you don't have to deal with the sad problem of financial euthanasia or convenience euthanasia. I have researched convenience euthanasia in zoos and from what I read it is highly frowned upon and not a commonality
Not true. Euthanasia in zoological facilities happens far more frequently than you would expect. Often times, population control measures are dictated by authorities far above the veterinarians employed by a given facility- the decisions are made by the AZA, one of the professional accreditation organizations to which reputable zoos belong. Zoos and aquaria function as consortia- collectively, zoological collections manage captive populations of a given species. If there is an unexpected birth, and no other facility has room for this individual, euthanasia is a possible endpoint. This happens frequently with animals that mistakenly inbreed (i.e. sib matings, mother-son). Although artificial birth control methods are used in captive collections, mistakes do happen (as they do in people). Did you read about the giraffe outcry at the Copenhagen zoo in Denmark? This was an overpopulation issue, for which a healthy giraffe was euthanized. Species Survival Plans (written by officials from multiple AZA zoos) determine population growth/maintenance targets for a given species. Genetic heterogeneity of the stock is of principal importance. If this is violated, often the animal is frequently slated for euthanasia.

Volunteer at a reputable zoo and speak to the veterinarians about their job- the keepers, too. Those folks would be a wealth of information for you. Much of zoo veterinary work, in its upper echelons, is management and regulatory responsibility.