Study: Younger Veterinarians Experiencing High Rates of Psychological Distress

Student loan debt and high stress jobs are cited as main reasons

The Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study findings presented at the 2018 Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando illustrate a concerning situation for a segment of the veterinary community.

The study results show that a combination of high student loan debt and high stress on the job is causing "serious psychological distress" among male veterinarians younger than 45 and female practitioners of all ages.

8.6% of those aged 18 to 34 and 9.1% of those aged 35 to 44 reported psychological distress, compared to 5% for the veterinary profession as a whole, which matches rates in the general population.

Overall, just 41% of veterinarians would recommend the job to others, a decline in this measure -- with the rate being just 24% in veterinarians 34 and under.

Sixty-seven percent of younger veterinarians identified student debt as a critically important issue, followed by stress levels (53%) and suicide rates of veterinarians (52%). ~Moneyish

"While mental illness among veterinarians was found to be no more prevalent than in the population at large, when it comes to well-being, veterinarians are faring somewhat worse than the general public." ~VIN

The Merck study also showed that just half of veterinarians experiencing distress were seeking help.

This study follows a 2014 study conducted by the CDC, in which one in 10 veterinarians said they experienced serious psychological distress and 1 in 6 stated they had contemplated suicide since becoming a veterinarian.

Updated: 2022-12-28 08:00:00

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association