This study examined the phenomenology of being a veterinarian, and in particular, the factors
relating to aspects of the job that are stressful and potentially life-threatening, particularly performing euthanasia. It also introduced the concepts of positive psychology, acceptance and commitment therapy, and career construction theory, and their subsequent roles in
identifying and addressing these issues. There were two separate, but related, studies in this research project. Firstly, it was expected that by interviewing veterinarians one-on-one, further insight into the contributing factors of veterinarian stress, depression, burnout, and
suicide could be identified. Therefore, Study 1 comprised face-to-face and telephone interviews with practicing veterinarians in Australia where they were asked a series of
questions pertaining to the reported demands of their job, and subsequent factors believed to be affecting their level of wellbeing. The results from Study 1 were analysed via thematic analysis, identifying and reinforcing a multi-faceted range of factors including, but not limited
to, performing euthanasia. Subsequently, these results led to the development of a one-day psycho-educational intervention program. Participant’s reactions to the psycho-educational intervention program were the focus of Study 2. It was expected that veterinarians would demonstrate a negative emotional response to performing euthanasia on animals, as well as experience enhanced wellbeing and coping by attending the psycho-educational intervention
program. Participants (n = 12) were taught evidence-based psychological strategies based on the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy and positive psychology, as well as skills in assertiveness, communication, stress management, time management, relaxation, and goal setting. Results from Study 2 returned statistically significant results when addressing depression, anxiety, stress, and negative affect. As a result of this research project, it is
evident that more needs to be done to address the reported negative aspects of being a veterinarian, and in particular, there needs to be more intervention programs available to help our veterinarians learn key psychological strategies to enable them to cope more effectively.
It is recommended that the psycho-educational intervention program used in this research project be one of them.
|Keywords||veterinarians, veterinarian wellbeing, pet euthanasia, psycho-educational intervention program, stress, acceptance and commitment therapy, positive psychology, career
construction theory, stress management, resilience|