10+ Year Member
- Apr 2, 2009
- Veterinary Student
that’s all nice and lofty, but let’s be real... we are very much NOT real doctors at all in these contexts and whatever we deal with life/death wise does not compare at all to what the medical community is dealing with right now. My best friends are MDs in the trenches and they do not need me to give them a pep talk about how to deal with life/death decisions.I mean...
- Continue to provide emergency care for pets and consider telemedicine for management of ongoing conditions, since during a sustained period of social isolation, the human-animal bond may provide much needed emotional support and structure to the lives of millions of people. There was an uplifting article in the NYT the other day about how animal fostering has surged in recent weeks as people seek out companionship at home.
- Offer emotional support to the human medical community, who are on the precipice of making brutal decisions they have likely not had to make in human health care. As doctors who deal with decisions surrounding life and death on a daily basis and who are trained to consider population health, veterinarians may be the best people to understand the compassion fatigue that is already sweeping across Italy and Spain as doctors are forced to decide which patients to save. So reach out to your human med friends and lend an empathetic ear to their fears and sadness.
- Emphasize the need to follow the guidance of the CDC and WHO, and help family and friends by interpreting the medical basis behind many of these measures and reiterating why it is important.
- Use veterinary medical knowledge to effectively triage our own patients and conserve PPE and equipment where we can, in as safe a manner as possible.
- Those of us with a background in public health, epidemiology, research, and lab animal medicine should be prepared to step up in the event that this pandemic continues to ravage the globe at the same rate, thereby decreasing the availability of people who are currently working in those roles. Not to be a fearmonger, but just because COVID-19 exists doesn't mean other diseases agreed to stop infecting people and animals for the time being. So if labs & public health workers are diverted to working on this at a national level, maybe there is something we could do to fill the positions/projects they are leaving behind.
- In a true state of emergency, veterinarians of all subfields are valuable assets because we have at least a basic level of training in incident command, public health, and infection control. We understand what PPE is important, how to maintain sterile fields, how to clean and sterilize equipment, and how to act as leaders of a team. There is discussion amongst our class to offer to help local hospitals/temporary quarantine areas by cleaning/restocking/setting up infectious disease wards if this continues to a point where our human medical colleagues (including nurses, hospital aides, cleaning staff) reach a point of exhaustion and need a break. We obviously can't be the doctors, but we do have medical training and are more knowledgeable, efficient, and safe in medical settings than an average person would likely be.
So, just some ideas. This doesn't even touch on the role of large animal vets at a time like this, when food safety is a paramount concern. And even small animal vets know some things about other species/fields -- I've heard enough of you talk about what you remember from the NAVLE to know that you could dust off that knowledge and beef it up if you truly needed to
Overall, I do think we have a lot of value to provide.
those in lab animal/research are even less helpful and the most help they can provide is honestly to stop what they’re doing and just divert resources to the human medical field. I can tell you that is exactly my PhD husband is being ordered to do at the medical school he works at. The only people actually helpful are those who are actually doing active research on the subject matter. It’s not like rando scientists can just switch gears and help.
yes large animal and USDA/CDC and possibly army vets may be more important than ever right now (though really mostly just to keep doing their regular jobs), but this idea of your everyday veterinarian swooping in to save the day is not as vet schools make it out to be.