This alarming discovery was elaborated by a study on behalf of the Vétos-Entraide association and the National Council of the Order of Veterinarians (CNOV). Conducted with 3,244 professionals (almost 18% of veterinarians), it was conducted by Didier Truchot, professor of social psychology at the University of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
This work identified a rate of emotional exhaustion among veterinarians – a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion – higher than that of breeders, whose distress has been documented several times, explains the academic. The researcher said he was surprised by these figures, as they contrast with the positive image of the profession among children and animal lovers.
Within the profession, “this did not surprise anyone,” says Corinne Bisbarre, a veterinarian in Gradignan (Gironde) and a member of the CNOV. “We all have in our promotions, in our direct professional entourage, colleagues who have committed suicide,” she breathes her. “Eight vets I knew committed suicide,” including “three classmates.”
These individual dramas are hardly mentioned outside the profession, but have a strong impact on the inside, he stresses: “It’s a very small environment, it’s like a family.”
“Medicine in the drawer”
This prevalence of acting out is explained in particular by “having drugs in the drawer,” observes Didier Truchot. Veterinarians suppress living things and therefore have the skills and equipment available to end their lives.
“It’s like the peasants who have a gun or a rope in the barn”, he observes, identifying other parallels between the two backgrounds: “They are historically male trades where we don’t look for help when we are in trouble.”
“I have already killed 2,500 hens on my own. You better be strong that day “
Likewise, the emotional burden is underestimated as veterinarians are exposed to the suffering of animals and owners. Another factor cited by veterinarians: the practice of euthanasia, which can be very varied (from the family dog that suffers and for which there is no hope of recovery, to herds of animals for health reasons). “I don’t know a veterinarian who doesn’t care,” explains David Quint, vice president of the national union of liberal practicing and practicing veterinarians in Corrèze.
“A few years ago I put down a herd of fire-poisoned cows. I had the farmer next to me who was crying bitterly, “recalls David Quint.” You are marked for life by these situations. “” When there is an epidemic of avian flu, you kill all the animals you treat and this has a psychological impact “, abounds Hélène Esqurial, veterinarian specializing in poultry in the Landes.” I have already killed 2,500 hens alone. You better be strong that day.
They quit their jobs
Other stressors come into play in burnout and suicidal thoughts among veterinarians: work overload, work addiction, confrontation with mistreatment by pet owners, fear of error, Didier Truchot lists.
Veterinarians also suffer from a “money pump” image, regrets David Quint. They are criticized for their prices because customers “don’t know how much surgery or MRI really cost,” he points out.
All these elements contribute to the large gap between expectations and the reality of the profession, for which aspiring veterinarians are not sufficiently prepared, all the veterinarians interviewed judge. “We should know everything, do everything and with the least possible means”, sums up William Addey, veterinarian of Buchy (Seine-Maritime) and member of the Veto-Entraides association, created to respond to the distress of veterinarians.