I am a veterinarian and I own it, love it and I am slowly becoming it. Whenever I interact with veterinarians, be it at a conference meeting or at tea time I always get the notion that more than half of the population of veterinarians found themselves in that path accidentally especially here in Kenya and Africa at large. The first thing that I hear from them is –
“I wanted to become a medical doctor, but I couldn’t cut it so I chose the second best alternative.”
Unfortunately, that second best option becomes them and they become it. I don’t want to seem harsh but if you don’t like the title, drop it, because you make the rest of us veterinarians who actually love what we do look bad. It’s the same mentality of being second best that has given this profession challenges of recognition despite the fact that Veterinary medicine is a health profession. We spend 5 years in school and have one year internship and as if that is not bad enough our interns are paid way below the other health profesions (waaay below).
Whenever I meet up with family and friends they always encourage me to “go out” and practice because there’s more money and vets are treated better out there. In a country where putting down your tools and going on a strike is the only way to be heard, it’s unfortunate that the profession lacks numbers or perhaps we should ask our patients to join us in the revolution (on a light note).
The leaders and the laws and regulations guiding this profession is to a large extent to be blamed for everything. For a long time, there has been relaxed rules on acquisition of veterinary drugs by the public, this made it easy for the farmer and any other animal owner to become a veterinarian. The consequences? The rising rate of antimicrobial resistance and the degradation of the profession.
They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, with the recent outbreak of anthrax which is a zoonotic disease, the vet was in the limelight (rarely happens) to address the crisis. I can confidently say that the vet knew more about the disease because it primarily attacks animals and this called for a collaborative effort in order to mitigate the disease. So in essence, health professions should come together and work together to keep our nations healthy because there’s no clear cut dermacation in a health crisis.
Change starts from within, so unless the veterinarians start to look at themselves with pride, the profession will remain the doormat to the other health professions.
Love what you do, own it and become it.