they’re not human, they’re veterinary superhumans

Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on Jan 22 2016
Missing file.

I am incredibly grateful to be a veterinarian. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve known I was meant to help and heal animals. My job is even better because I’m blessed to work with some of the most caring, hardworking and selfless superhumans on the planet. The good folks who work at your local veterinary clinic don’t simply punch the clock and bank some coin; they dedicate their souls to serving those who can’t help themselves. These unsung heroes sacrifice their personal lives, endure long hours under stressful conditions and use all the kindness they have to shower your pet with love and affection when he needs it most. The people I work with aren’t human, they’re veterinary superhuman.

The dictionary defines “superhuman” as “above or beyond what is human; having a higher nature or greater powers than humans have.” We often think of superhumans as comic book heroes in bright tights who can fly, see through walls or possess magical abilities or devices. I want you to think of veterinary technicians, receptionists and assistants in drab scrubs. If you doubt they have “greater powers,” ask yourself: can you clean anal gland juice with one hand while typing a medical record with the other? Can you instantly transition from saying goodbye forever to a friend you’ve known for over a decade to exuberantly welcoming a 6-week-old puppy? Can you train a new coworker while restraining an aggressive pet? In my book, these are all legitimate superpowers.

Veterinary superhumans typically don’t do their job for the money. That’s a good thing, because there generally aren’t big bucks to be made working in a veterinary clinic. Unlike Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne, these real-life heroes don’t have millions of dollars supporting their superhuman lifestyles. Instead, they go to school, work long hours and tolerate tense situations for the love of animals. Veterinarians make about half to a third of what physicians bring home and veterinary staff make much less than their human counterparts. I’m not saying we should make more or less than anyone else, I’m just stating that veterinary superhumans aren’t in it for the money; they’re in it for the love.

Many veterinary team superhumans refuse to leave work after ten or twelve hours in order to spend a few precious minutes with a sick pet. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve witnessed a team member sitting on the cold floor next to a hospital cage well after their shift is over. When asked why they’re still at the clinic, they respond, “I’ve already clocked out. I just wanted to stay here with Jesse a little longer.” That’s superhuman in my book.

These superhuman powers can take their toll. Burnout is common among veterinary teams. These deeply committed individuals give and give until they have nothing left for themselves. My wish is that every pet parent will take the time to genuinely thank the champions that care of their pets. Fruit baskets, hand-written cards and a simple “thank you” go a long way toward refueling the soul.

I’m infinitely grateful for the opportunity to work alongside these amazing individuals. On behalf of veterinarians and pet parents everywhere, I’d like to offer my most heartfelt thanks for the superhuman efforts of veterinary teams the world over. You enhance the lives of people and pets just by being yourself. Thank you.