I’ve heard people say, “Oh, just a veterinarian, not a REAL doctor” more than once. As someone who worked with veterinarians for over eight years in my youth I have to say this: in many ways, veterinarians are way more doctor than human doctors.
First of all, veterinarians are generalists – much like your general practitioner or internist – which is well known. BUT unlike human doctors, most veterinarians are generalists about multiple species. My vet (pictured here) not only is well versed in both cats and dogs as a small animal vet, but he also knows rabbits, chinchillas, rats, turtles, snakes, birds and about a dozen other exotic pet species.
Plus, veterinarians also go beyond just basic wellness or sick visits like your GP would do. Veterinarians are also radiologists, surgeons, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, nutritionists, allergists, groomers and more – as well as business managers, office managers, supply managers, legal experts and more. Few veterinarians have an office staff that allows for more than a couple of techs and a front desk person.
To top all of this off, most veterinarians have student loans at the same rate that human doctors do, but earns salaries that are only about a third of what most general practitioners earn. Chew on that for a minute – lots more knowledge, work, and a higher physical danger (the average doctor generally doesn’t have to worry about being bitten by their patients) – for far less money.
There is some moderate good news for veterinarians; they don’t have to worry about people thinking that vaccines are causing autism, for example (although there are some that think that vaccines cause some strains of cancer). They don’t get sued at nearly the same rate human doctors do, nor do they have to pay the same astronomical level of malpractice insurance.
So, next time you hear someone scoff at a veterinarian’s skills, keep all this in mind. Your vet is a real powerhouse!