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Many Young Vets Find Work Stressful

11 March 2009 Wiley

Many young vets are suffering from work-related distress and anxiety, according to a study in the Australian Veterinary Journal published by Wiley-Blackwell. Compared to the general population, young veterinarians experience a significantly higher level of general psychological distress, work-related anxiety and depression.

The study entitled "Psychological well-being of Australian Veterinarians" used established psychological scales to measure the levels of distress, anxiety and depression in veterinarians and compared these levels between different veterinary subgroups and other professions.

Out of the 2125 respondents who participated, at least one-third reported poor psychological health. The study also found that younger veterinarians are more likely to be psychologically affected than more experienced veterinarians.

"Anecdotally, veterinarians have a stressful job, dealing with sick animals, upset owners, and the challenges of managing a small business. We found that the average levels of distress were about the same as other professional groups such as doctors. However, about a third of the vets, especially new graduates, had quite high levels of stress, anxiety and depression", said co-author Dr. Lin Fritschi from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research.

Poor psychological health is common in the veterinary profession. The authors contend that professional bodies and veterinary schools could consider providing training in dealing with work-related distress to improve the psychological well-being of veterinarians and possibly reduce the attrition from the profession.

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