Thursday, February 19, 2009

some people get under my skin

sometimes MDs are so annoying. i read a great many MD and nurse blogs - just out of general medical curiosity. i love the medical field, be it animals or people, and i recognize the great challenge that medicine presents. MDs, on the other hand, seem to have a dim view of veterinarians and what we do. i get the feeling that they often view us as wielders of vaccines, heartworm preventative, flea medications, and the scalpel (but only for routine spays/neuters/declaws). while once upon a time, that might have been true - it certainly isn't any longer. i read a blog written by an MD recently, and he was amazed at the "sleuthing" their vet did to determine that their dog was suffering back pain. his description of the physical exam, diagnostics, and recommendations was completely commonplace to me - a condition we often deal with and know how to treat with a great deal of success. but this MD was absolutely impressed by his vet's ability to elucidate the problem - especially in light of the fact that our patients lack language skills and cannot tell us where it hurts.

i assume that most of you who read my blog regularly understand what vets do - especially specialists and ER docs. but just to be clear:

we treat cancer aggressively with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical excision. we diagnose immune-mediated disorders like lupus and pemphigus and IMHA and treat with of-the-moment immunosuppressives like azathioprine and cell-cept and cyclosporine. we do organ transplants and peritoneal dialysis and bone marrow transplants. we regularly try novel surgical approaches such as urethral stent placement in cats with urethral strictures. we employ CT scanners and MRIs and PET scanners in our radiology/imaging departments. we (the veterinary field) have developed a novel vaccine for the possible treatment of melanoma. we can diagnose and aggressively treat any number of cancers. we have a myriad of treatment options for heart failure. we can repair congenital heart disorders like patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and pulmonic stenosis. we (the vet field, again) are actively researching in every avenue of medicine.

being a vet is not just about vaccinating animals and spaying/neutering. working where i do now - as an intern - doesn't include any routine care at all. i haven't vaccinated an animal since 4th year of vet school, working at the vaccine clinic. i've only spayed animals if i was already conducting a c-section or removing a pyometra.

becoming a veterinarian requires heavy duty college coursework (organic chem I & 2, biochemistry, physics, calculus) beforehand, and then 4 years of veterinary school afterwards. 4 more years of optional learning (internship/residency) can follow that.

i am a doctor. instead of doctoring people, i doctor animals (and their people by proxy). i love my job. i considered becoming an MD, but i lack the rapport with people that i have with animals. my job can be incredibly satisfying on 2 levels - 1) i get to work with and help animals and 2) i get to help their people. if i could have stomached seeing injured people, i might have become an MD, but the sight of human blood and suffering makes me nauseated. truthfully, i'm not sorry for that. i love my profession, and i'm glad to be a member of it...whether some people see me as a real doctor or not!


CCL said...


As a first year, reading your blog really motivates me when I'm feeling the blah from studying. Thanks for putting your stories out here!

Shoshannah said...

I was saw a sign "real doctors treat more than one species" ;-)
And you forgot to add hip replacement surgery to the list of medical innovations that came out of veterinary medicine and now is used routinely in humans.

premenopaws said...

Organ transplants... seriously?! That is cool. I've heard from people in the know that vet school is orders of magnitude more difficult than med school. And much harder to get into, for that matter.

Mary said...

I've heard this in the past about MDs. I've also heard it's quite a bit more difficult to get into vet school than med school.

My husband is an MD and would have probably preferred to be a vet, but there's no vet school in our city and he didn't want to move, so went people-medicine instead.

However, we are very careful to not mention anything to our vet about what he does because of that perception. I usually end up taking the animals in, anyway.

clarson said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.