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how do you deal with the lose of patients when putting them down or having an unsuccessful surgery? is it difficult?

this is a really big question for me, because I don't know how I would handle the passing of patients, and I would like to know from a vet. I want to prepare myself for the misfortunes, so I can be a great veterinarian.
veterinarian animal-health veterinary-medicine

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Krista’s Answer

I work as a Pet Care Technician at a veterinary hospital. As such, I don't deal with the actual process of euthanasia, however, I do deal with the aftermath. Hopefully, my answer provides some insight into vet life but I hope that a veterinarian will answer this question as well.

I have dealt with a variety of clients and patients that I have become close to that have had to be put to sleep. I have seen patients that have come in sick, have been treated intensely, and still unfortunately have not made it. I have had to deal with the proper treatment of the body post euthanasia. Unfortunately, I must admit that it is hard on your emotions. As someone with a passion to be a vet, it is very likely that you are driven, kind-hearted, and compassionate. When unfortunate events like these occur it can be difficult on you, especially as someone who likely carries these personality traits. Your compassion is what makes you an amazing veterinarian but it also makes it hard for you to accept that there might not have been any other course of action. I have seen how these events affected veterinarians and know that it hurts them just as much as it hurts the owners. Veterinarians often experience compassion fatigue, a phenomenon where you can become exhausted and worn out from caring so much. The biggest thing that I will say is: learn that, REGARDLESS OF WHATEVER EVENTS OCCUR, YOU DID EVERYTHING YOU COULD FOR THAT ANIMAL AND THE BEST OPTION FOR THE WELLBEING OF THE ANIMAL WAS PURSUED. As long as you keep this thought in your mind and see its truth, your sadness will not hinder you from continuing to be a fantastic veterinarian.

Additionally, I would encourage you to work at a veterinary clinic and take part in procedures like this as well. The only way you are going to know if you can handle it is to actually experience it first-hand. There is no shame in taking a step back from veterinary medicine if this greatly affects you, it just shows that you care greatly. There are a variety of other professions that work with animals that do not include this aspect as frequently. If you think that you can handle this process but are still concerned, I would begin to brainstorm possible coping methods and ways to relieve your stress. Mental health in veterinary medicine is extremely important, so having appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with these experiences will not only make you a great veterinarian but will also better your mental health.

Krista recommends the following next steps:

Pursue shadowing options that allow you to gain first-hand experience
Brainstorm & develop proper coping mechanisms to ensure good mental health