GHP Q1 2018

30 GHP / Q1 2018 , First-of-its-Kind Study Reveals Concern about the Future of the Veterinary Profession Results presented at 2018 VeterinaryMeeting & Expo (VMX). Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) has announced the results of a large, well-controlled study with veterinarians designed to definitively quantify the prevalence of mental illness and stress in the veterinary profession and compare the findings to previous studies and the general U.S. population. Conducted in collaboration with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Merck Animal Health, the study found veterinarians age 45 and younger are more likely to experience serious psychological distress and only 27 percent of them would endorse the profession to a friend or family member. “This survey is unique in that, for the first time, a nationally representative sample of veterinarians in the U.S. were asked about their wellbeing, which is a broader measure of happiness and life satisfaction than mental health alone,” said study investigator Linda Lord, Ph.D., D.V.M., academic and allied industry liaison lead, Merck Animal Health. “Based on the survey results, we are particularly concerned about younger veterinarians as they are the future of our profession. We must work together to promote a healthy lifestyle, including work/ life balance, access to wellness resources and debt reduction.” According to the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study, about 1 in 20 veterinarians are suffering from serious psychological distress, which is in line with the general population. However, when segmenting the data by age, younger veterinarians are more impacted by the financial and emotional stresses of professional veterinary life, compared to both older male veterinarians and individuals in the general population. Depression (94%), burnout (88%) and anxiety (83%) are the most frequently reported conditions. Veterinarians are feeling overstressed and undervalued Among veterinarians, high student debt was the top concern voiced, with 67 percent rating it as a critically important issue. In 2017, the average veterinary student graduated with more than $138,000 in student debt, according to AVMA, which is increased competition to the declining ability of clients to pay for veterinary care. Moreover, veterinarians often find themselves giving up the things that improve wellbeing and provide a healthy balance in life, such as family, friends and time for self-care,” said Jen Brandt, LISW-S, Ph.D., director, wellbeing and diversity initiatives AVMA. “As an organization that serves veterinarians, our mission is to protect the health and welfare of our members and the future of the profession. As part of these efforts we continuously work to identify accessible resources and assistance related to wellbeing and mental health. Studies such as the Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study provide helpful guidance on the types of resources and education that may be most beneficial.” Concern for the future: Only 24 percent of veterinarians age 34 and younger would recommend a career in veterinary medicine The survey showed veterinarians today do not strongly endorse their profession. Only 41 percent of veterinarians overall would recommend the profession to a friend or family member; even nearly twice the average starting salary for a veterinarian, creating a significant strain on the future of the profession. Following student debt, respondents reported the other most serious issues facing young professionals today are stress levels, reported by 53 percent and suicides rates reported by 52 percent. Poor mental health is closely associated with the stresses of professional life –excessive work hours, poor work-life balance and student debt. Treatment gap: Awareness about resources for mental health and wellbeing is low Only half of veterinarians with serious psychological distress are seeking help – creating a big mental health treatment gap. This is compounded by the fact that only few employers offer employee assistance programs. In addition, only 16 percent had ever accessed resources regarding wellbeing and mental health through national or state veterinary organizations. “Veterinarians today cope with a physically and emotionally demanding occupation that is undergoing changes from