Nothing like a great veterinary conference in the best city in the world to get my mind off my pre-holiday anxiety.
Two busy days in New York City afforded me some great continuing education and got me thinking about the major changes that have taken place in my profession since I opened my practice in 1992.
There have been massive shifts occurring over the last 15 years. If you have a geriatric pet at home, the veterinary hospital you walked into with that kitten or puppy in 2000 has changed dramatically. Your senior pet is now part of a new veterinary world. It’s more feminized. It’s more tech savvy. It’s more corporate. It’s big business.
Most of you have probably noticed that more and more of the veterinarians you see are women. Graduating classes from vet schools are now about 85 percent female. It looked like the attendees at my conference were 70 percent female. The younger vets and all the veterinary technicians were predominantly female.
The speaker demographic has also changed. Back in the day, the professors and lecturers who spoke at our meetings were predominantly male. This week, women were giving almost 50 percent of the lectures, meaning there is more equality in the academic and specialty fields.
Takeaway for you: Most of you will be seeing a female veterinarian. Fewer men are applying to vet school.
2. Corporations Buying Veterinarians
Our typical exhibit hall used to be full of drug companies and salespeople trying to educate the average veterinarian on newer products and equipment advances. Today, the convention floor is littered with veterinary corporations trying to buy out individual veterinarians and recruit them to work in corporate veterinary hospitals.
Takeaway for you: Be aware of the corporatization of veterinary medicine, watch your pocketbook and push for continued personalized service. Serving your pet’s individualized needs should not be lost as veterinary medicine becomes more corporate.
This is a no-brainer. Every industry has changed dramatically since the inception of the digital age. But the advances in veterinary medicine are truly mind-boggling. The convention floor was a classic example of this. Computer software systems, advanced medical technologies and fancy web marketing strategies outnumbered good old-fashioned pharmaceutical stuff.
Case in point: I opened my practice in 1992 with an appointment book and a microscope. Today, my little hospital has all its information supported with specialty veterinary software, a website with web support and a social media company in place of a phone book. On the medical side, my basic, general veterinary practice has digital X-ray, digital dental radiographs, all blood machines in-house and ultrasound technology.
Takeaway for you: The small animal hospital of 2017 is a microcosm of a major human hospital — all under 1 little roof.
4. Pain Management and Laser Therapy
Thankfully, veterinarians are continually more aware of pain, stress management and rehabilitation in their patients. There is a huge emphasis in modern vet medicine to acknowledge and alleviate pain. Along with traditional modalities such as drugs and physical therapy, lasers are being used more and more to lessen pain, relieve joint dysfunction and promote healing.
On the convention floor, a major manufacturer and distributor of lasers took over the largest central booth where pharmaceutical companies used to hawk their wares. It was not the only laser company present. Its spiels boast the benefits of laser therapy as a treatment — and also as a moneymaker.
The aggressive sales pitch makes me wary. There is a huge difference in quality of lasers and disagreement on its benefits and what conditions are helped by laser therapy.
Takeaway for you: You will most likely be offered laser therapy to lessen pain or help in healing in a post-operative situation.
This vet hospital uses laser therapy to help treat pets and speed healing:
5. Pet Insurance
Because veterinary medicine now offers you state-of-the-art medicine and advanced imaging and technology heavily marketed by corporations, you need a way to pay for all of this. Pet insurance companies are coming at you from all angles. Animal organizations like ASPCA are big players, as are human companies like Nationwide.
Takeaway for you: Do your research and pick a plan that sounds right in terms of coverage, deductibles, etc. In my opinion, it’s better to have coverage than not. If you have the money to have a pet, you should have enough money for some insurance coverage to help you in times of need.
So what was this veterinarian’s takeaway from 2 intensive days of learning and sales pitches? It’s a great time to be of service to pets. That being said, I need to remember that pet people can be more confused than ever out there, that it is my task to responsibly guide them through the quagmire of treatments, products, services and choices, and that our pets are living longer, healthier lives with the help of modern medicine and technology.
Remember what I said about that wonderful pet you brought home in 2000? Well, many of my patients born that year are still around and happy. They are the miracle of loving people and modern veterinary medicine.
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