Starlight Pet Talk

Veterinary Social Workers: A Caring Bridge Between Pet Parents and Veterinarians

February 28, 2023 Amy Castro Season 1 Episode 5
Veterinary Social Workers: A Caring Bridge Between Pet Parents and Veterinarians
Starlight Pet Talk
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Starlight Pet Talk
Veterinary Social Workers: A Caring Bridge Between Pet Parents and Veterinarians
Feb 28, 2023 Season 1 Episode 5
Amy Castro

In this episode, Amy speaks with Emily Carveth, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in Veterinary Social Work. Emily sheds light on the vital role of veterinary social workers in bridging communication between pet parents and veterinary staff. They also delve into mental health challenges among veterinarians, including moral distress and compassion fatigue, and how pet parents can support their veterinary team for optimal pet care.

Shoutouts in this episode:
Valley Cottage Animal Hospital
Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Social Work Program, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Comment on this episode! (For questions or if you need a reply- please email us at Amy@StarlightPetTalk.com

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Amy speaks with Emily Carveth, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in Veterinary Social Work. Emily sheds light on the vital role of veterinary social workers in bridging communication between pet parents and veterinary staff. They also delve into mental health challenges among veterinarians, including moral distress and compassion fatigue, and how pet parents can support their veterinary team for optimal pet care.

Shoutouts in this episode:
Valley Cottage Animal Hospital
Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Social Work Program, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Comment on this episode! (For questions or if you need a reply- please email us at Amy@StarlightPetTalk.com

Support the Show.

Support the show: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/starlightpettalk

LISTEN & FOLLOW!
▷ Official Site: https://www.starlighpettalk.com

▶ Facebook: / starlightoutreachandrescue

▶ YouTube: -https://bit.ly/starlightsubscribe

▶ TikTok: / starlightou...

Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Starlight Pet Talk Podcast, where we'll talk about and explore ways to help pet parents and future pet parents. Learn everything they need to know. Do you have a happy and healthy relationship with their pet? So sit up and stay for Starlight Pet Talk Rescue Adoption and pet Parenting done right.

Amy Castro: Welcome to Starlight Pet Talk. I'm your host Amy Castro, and some of you may not know this, but I worked at an animal hospital, the Valley Cottage Animal Hospital, to be specific in Valley Cottage New York for eight years in the summer and on weekends when I was in high school and college. And I think that's kind of where my real passion for caring for sick and injured animals came about.

Luckily I did that because it's really served me well moving forward, not only in caring for my own pets, but also in caring for animals at Darling Outreach and Rescue. So one of the things that I learned there beyond just basic animal care and [00:01:00] information about animal health is that our time at the Vet's office is not only stressful for ourselves and our pets, but there's also a lot of stress and anxiety that is faced by veterinarians, technicians, and the other specialists who are there caring for our.

 If you think about it, you might go to the vet for your annual exam and every once in a while you might go because your pet is sick or injured. And obviously, you know, at end of life we may end up back at the vet. But our veterinary care teams deal with life and death, illness, um, hard decisions every single day when they are working with animals.

And that really takes its toll on. My guest today is Emily Cark and she has a really unique job that I wanted you all to hear about because I thought I knew everything and well, not everything, but I thought I kind of knew a lot and I had never heard about it. She's actually a veterinary social worker and I wanted her to come on the show today to share what she does in that role and how she supports not only.[00:02:00] 

Pet parents, but also the veterinary staff in her work at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine in beautiful Connecticut. So welcome Emily to the show. 

Emily Carveth: Thank you. I'm so glad to be here. 

Amy Castro: Awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time. In a nutshell, what exactly is a veterinary social worker? Like I said, I had never heard of it, and I would bet a lot of the people listening have not heard of it.

Emily Carveth: Yeah, 

it is, um, a somewhat newer specialty within the larger field of social work, and in my role as the staff social worker at a veterinary hospital, my job is to support both the clients and the staff of the hospital. So my tagline that I use is, I'm here for the humans. That go along with pets . Yeah.

Um, so basically every human that comes into the veterinary hospital at any point could be considered my client. So a large part of my role is providing [00:03:00] counseling, education, training, support groups that can benefit both the clients and the staff of the 

hospital. 

Amy Castro: Okay, great. And what made you decide to get into this line of.

It. Um, so my background is actually in veterinary medicine. I worked in the field for about 15, 16 years prior to starting my program in social work. My most recent job, I was a client liaison working at the front desk of a specialty and emergency practice, but I've always been passionate about mental health and wellbeing, um, through some experiences of my own, some challenges of my own, and.

Members of my family, and I knew that I wanted to become a counselor, but I also didn't wanna give up veterinary medicine. And my coworkers knew that. And one of them recommended, why don't you check out the Veterinary social Work program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville? And I googled it. I was [00:04:00] like, I, I didn't know it was a thing until a couple of years ago.

Yeah. And I saw the program, I was like, this is exactly it. Exactly what I've been looking for. Um, so ever since then, it's been just my mission going through my master's program to become a veterinary social worker. 

I think that's, that's great. I mean, it's, it's definitely something in my experience. It's so needed.

And you said it was relatively new. How many, not exact numbers. I'm not gonna hold you to statistics, but I mean, is it hundreds, is it thousands? Um, of, of veterinary social workers around the. I would 

Emily Carveth: say there's probably a hundred or less of us around the world. Wow. Um, that's my off the cuff guess. Um, for the most part, you can find veterinary social workers these days in the United States, and there are a few in Canada now, and we're all really excited about that.

And mostly we're at the veterinary.[00:05:00] And the larger specialty and emergency practices like 

Amy Castro: the one where I work. Yeah. That practice, I, you know, was looking at the website. That's a lot of doctors and a lot of staff. It's a big, yes. Big practice where you are . 

Emily Carveth: So big practice, we have about 250 employees all 

Amy Castro: told Wow.

Mm-hmm. . Wow. Mm-hmm. . Yes. That is, that is a big practice. That's a, that's a lot of people to care for for sure. What do you, and I know you, you hit on a little bit about what you do. How, how did it come about that somebody, the light bulb finally went off and said, Hey, we should have, somebody with this expertise in veterinary practices?

Emily Carveth: I think there was a couple of different things that started to happen. There's been a growing realization over the past, I would say 10 years or so, and more research in the area about how much veterinary profess. Struggle with mental health challenges. Um, and there's a lot of reasons for that. But there's been, , some research done that veterinarians [00:06:00] have.

one of the higher suicide rates, um, among the professions. Mm-hmm. , um, were, you know, folks, it's up there with like airline pilots, doctors, , and other frontline responders. And people didn't, you know, didn't necessarily know that and weren't, you know, just cognizant of the fact that it is a very stress.

Profession, you're seeing a lot of loss and trauma and very difficult things. Sometimes abuse and neglect. Very high caseloads, super busy schedules. Sometimes it's hard to just even take a five minute break to attend to your basic needs. And there's also, um, not a very high level of income through veterinary professionals.

So the average veterinarian. That is leaving veterinary school leaves with about 200 to $250,000 in student loan debt, but makes about a quarter of what a [00:07:00] human physician would. So it can be really a struggle for young vets in particular to make ends meet their first couple of years out of vet school.

And even beyond that, I have a veterinarian who's been out of school for over 10 years and she's. , really struggles to make her student loan payments. So there's a lot of factors behind 

Amy Castro: all this. Yeah, I mean, I can only imagine, looking at it , from the consumer standpoint everybody thinks vets are raking in money handover fist, 

but I don't think that they realize the expense that it takes to not only become a veterinarian, but setting up a practice. The equipment. Mm-hmm. , the, the staff costs. It's, it's extraordinary the amount of money that they have to spend just to care for our pets, right? Yeah. Because they, people complain so much about the, the cost of the services.

Mm-hmm. , I know one of the things that I've been running to a lot lately is that, uh, people are complaining about, you know, they, they wanna go on. I won't name any names, but they wanna go on an online [00:08:00] website to get their medications for their pets because it's cheaper. Mm-hmm. than getting it at the veterinary practice.

And a lot of veterinarians have implemented a fee. To fulfill those prescriptions, and people are up in arms about that, but they don't realize that veterinarian is paying a staff person to sit there for an hour with a stack of prescriptions confirming them, making sure they're accurate, you know, getting them sent to the f.

Uh, online pharmacy and, you know, they have to pay for that person to do that job. Mm-hmm. . And so they can't just eat that cost. Mm-hmm. because you wanna save $5 kind of thing. Yep. And that's just a little bit of what they have to deal with on a, on a daily basis about people complaining.

So, um, so where I was kind of going with that is, getting into some of the specifics of some of the mental health challenges mm-hmm. that you're seeing. Mm-hmm. , um, not specifically in your practice. I don't wanna talk about your, you know, your team, but as you work in the field, what are some of the biggest things that, uh, veterinary teams are facing?

Um, I would 

Emily Carveth: [00:09:00] say the veterinary field tends to attract folks. Um, have perfectionistic tendencies. We expect a lot of ourselves and want to deliver the highest level of care to the patients, and sometimes that can lead to some struggles of wanting to be, have perfect outcomes, ev every single time with the, with patients.

And that just not. Possible. Um, there can be right imposter syndrome going on where, you know, a lot of folks that are leaving veterinary school went right to vet school from college. And so they're still fairly young, but have an enormous burden of responsibility on them. And it can lead a lot of people with thinking that they're not good enough, that they're not smart enough to be doing the job that people want them to do.

And that's not just veterinarians, that's veterinary technicians as well. Veter. Technician training is a rigorous associates program. It's truly a nursing profession, and there can [00:10:00] be a lot of responsibility that they're tasked with. Um, and it can, yeah, it can often lead to some folks thinking that, you know, I'm just not good enough for this.

Um, and also what I see a lot is what's called moral distress. And that is a situation where, um, and a lot of different healthcare professionals can encounter this, where. , the team or the team members wishes for the patient don't align with what the pet owner wants to do. There can be different priorities in terms of their care.

Um, sometimes what happens is the team members feel like they're providing care that's not going anywhere. That's futile, and the client wants to keep going with their treatment and that can cause a lot of distress. For veterinary professionals, particularly the veterinarians and the veterinary nurses who are doing the [00:11:00] hands-on care to the patient, and they may feel that they're causing the patient suffering.

Um, but ultimately the pet owner is the legal owner of the pet and has, you know, full right to make the decision that they feel like is best for their pet. So sometimes values and priorities and morals really 

Amy Castro: clash. . That also I think, works in the reverse, whereas you might have one pet owner who just wants to, like you said, keep going, keep going, and keep trying more things when the medical professional kind of knows it's not gonna not gonna go anywhere.

But there's also, at least what we see down here in Texas sometimes, and it's probably other places as well, I'm sure is. The veterinarian or the veterinary team knows that there is something that can be done, but for whatever reason, , it could be financial, it could be, you know, the age of the animal.

It's like, oh, he's old. You know, and, and so they, they don't wanna go forward. Do you see that as [00:12:00] well? Yep. You can. , 

Emily Carveth: you can definitely see that we, um, for financial reasons, we call it economic euthanasia. And that happens a lot. Uh, we are in. Um, you know, I'm a very diverse area, blue collar area, and a lot of people are really struggling financially right now, especially the last couple of years with the pandemic.

Just throwing the world upside down. A lot of, sure. A lot of folks, they have the absolute. Best intentions for their pet, and they really wanna provide the care that their pet could have, but just their finances can't make that a reality. Not every pet family has pet insurance. It's not a universal adoption of pet insurance the way the human.

Healthcare insurance is these days. And so sometimes it's just not in a person's reality to say, spend [00:13:00] multiple thousands of dollars on a surgery. Um, and they may have to choose to euthanize their pet, you know, when they're debating keeping a roof over their head or keeping their pet alive. That's a really difficult decision and it's when I see folks definitely having to make 

Amy Castro: every.

So in these types of situations, I'm assuming you get involved in some of these cases where you've got a, uh, pet parent that wants to keep pushing and the staff has kind of said, Hey, we're at the limit, you know, that we need to talk. , do you facilitate that conversation to try to. I guess bridge the gap from where the veterinary staff is to where the pet parent is, or how does that work?

I think 

Emily Carveth: the phrase, bridging the gap really sums it up very well about my role in the situation. Um, sometimes the staff will have perceptions that it's, you know, maybe I can convince the owner into [00:14:00] euthanizing, and that's really not my role in the situation. It's to really. Space for both sides of the conversation and.

Sometimes what will happen is I'll speak with the owner and help them weigh out the pros and cons of whatever decision they wanna make. Um, and I can communicate that to the staff as much as the owner gives me permission to talk to the staff about. Sometimes it helps the staff realize what this family is really dealing with in the background.

Because when they come in through emergency in particular, we're getting a really brief snapshot of their life and the pet's life. And sometimes there's a lot going on behind the scenes that we're just not aware of at first. And that can help both the staff and the client understand what's really on the table.

What are the resources that the client has, and what ultimately is the best decision for them and 

Amy Castro: their family. I [00:15:00] like that you said it's not your, it's not your job to convince that that person, because you know, ultimately that's that, like you said, that's, it's their pet. They have to make that decision.

Why do you think it is, and I've, I've run into this personally, you know, in my own experience, not only with veterinary medicine, but with human medicine, where you wanna ask well, , what would you do if it was your pet or, you know, I, I sometimes feel like, I wish they would just come out and say, look, we've hit the end of the line.

You need to euthanize this pet. Why? Why do those conversations not happen? Do 

Emily Carveth: you think? That's such a good question, and I think some vets are more comfortable with that question from pet owners than others. You know, some vets are more willing to offer their. Opinion. Um, and sometimes that really helps the pet owner.

I think in my assessment of why some folks feel uncomfortable is they don't wanna necessarily sway the person [00:16:00] one way or another. And folks are trained in vet school, understandably so, to offer the owner all of the options that are available 

Amy Castro: to them. 

Emily Carveth: They want to offer the client an opportunity to pursue like what we call the gold standard of care, depending on the condition of the pet.

And sometimes the vets feel like maybe, you know, I shouldn't be. Putting my personal judgment on top of this. And I think sometimes veterinarians have been sued where they offered their opinion and that didn't go so well and the person got unhappy. And I'm not a hundred percent about that, but I do af definitely run into where, um, veterinarians and veterinary staff feel uncomfortable when they're faced with that type of question or.

Conversation just in general about discussing, you know, I, we think that we're at the end of the road [00:17:00] here, you know, and we want to give you our medical opinion on that. , it can be a really tough 

Amy Castro: conversation. Well, yeah, and, and I think the whole element of responsibility is a, is a big thing. The pet parent doesn't wanna be responsible.

And we did an episode on pet loss and grief not too long ago, and one of the comments is, , I don't want to kill my pet. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And so I don't wanna be the one responsible for making that decision. Mm-hmm. . But yet at the same time, your veterinary team doesn't wanna make that decision for you. , then you might hold them responsible or accountable in that, in that instance.

Um, especially if you wake up with feelings of regret after the fact. Sure, 

Emily Carveth: sure. There can be a lot of guilt 

Amy Castro: involved. Definitely. Definitely. Um, so are there, are there some questions I could be asking myself to improve the communication? With my veterinary team. Oh, that's, so is that a dumb question? I'm not sure if I'm asking.

It's not a dumb question. 

Emily Carveth: That is such a [00:18:00] good question and it's actually been a research area of mine of how to help. Okay, great. Both sides of the table have more effective communication with each other. There is, there are some resources out there for human patients about how to talk to their physicians effectively, and I'm working on adapting a.

For human patients, for pet owners, so they can have those types of effective and really get their needs met in the situation. So past conversations with pet owners have looked like, let's talk about the financial resources you have at your disposal, and what are the financial challenges you can anticipate if you go forward with.

Type of treatment, cuz sometimes folks speak to me if they're evaluating whether to go forward with a very, um, costly surgery or not. That can, that can come up. Um, and I also like to talk with folks about, you know, [00:19:00] do you feel like, based on what the team is telling you about what the at-home care is gonna look like after your pet leaves the hospital?

What are some, what are challenges that you anticipate or, uh, what resources do you have for helping make this care possible? Cause a lot of times, you know, pet families will wanna go forward, but then maybe they just aren't home often enough to really be able to commit to the nursing care that their pet needs at home.

But sometimes they're in a really great position to be able to do that. Maybe they have lots of help from family and friends or, Sitter that can help give medications. It's great for us to know things like that. . It's great for us to know if, say like, I'm thinking of my kitties that hate getting pills cuz most cats  hate getting pilsl.


Emily Carveth: yeah, sometimes we, you know, it's really effect. It's great for us to know that, hey, just outright, my [00:20:00] cat is not gonna tolerate pills. I've tried it before. It's not gonna happen. Can we talk about like liquid medications or transdermal medications that we can put inside their. . Um, it's So 

Amy Castro: those are a lifesaver, by the way.

Yeah, they really are. Oh God, they're so fabulous. . I like, it's a lifesaver. 

Emily Carveth: Um, so it's great for us to know, you know, what are you working with at home for after the fact? Because they are the folks that are really gonna have to spend their time with their pet day in and day out and make their.

Postoperative or just ongoing care possible. 

Amy Castro: Yeah, that's, that's an excellent, excellent point. It's really something that we do need to think about. Luckily, I have not had to go to an emergency, uh, veterinarian in a long time, knock wood. But, um, in the moment, in the heat of the moment in the crisis, , you're making decisions for the short term.

You're making that life and death decision. But at the same time, I, I think it's awesome that one of the things [00:21:00] that you do is to help people see the whole picture of what they're getting themselves into with this pet. I know that, um, just as, as a simple example, my dog tore her a c l and so we. We're looking at different surgical options, and we decided to go with a tightrope procedure.

Mm-hmm. and went, went to a, a specific, uh, veterinarian that did that, and he was really good about making sure that we fully understood the aftercare because it was, I don't know, it was like six weeks of leash walking and keeping this bandage on her leg. And, and, and he even said, you know, there are some people that he.

Talk to them and not do the surgery. He won't, he won't do the surgery because he can tell based on their responses, that no matter what they might wanna say in the moment, that they're not going to be able to follow through with that after care. Sure. And really, you know, and because he said, he said he has too many people that would come back three weeks later [00:22:00] and they've basically undone everything from the procedure because they said, oh, he seemed fine.

And then they didn't continue with the leash lock walking like they were supposed to. Sure, sure. Yes. Simple things like that. Yeah. I've also run into people I know we've run into this in rescue where people will come and ask us to help an animal. Cats, it's seems to be cats for some reason, but has been injured in some way.

Mm-hmm. probably hit by a car. Mm-hmm. , and they're paralyzed. And so it's like, well if you were gonna keep him, he would need his bladder expressed. Yes. It's like, okay, yeah, yeah, I can do that. Yeah. Until they realize what it is. And the cat, after about four or five days, I'm not having any of this, you know, I don't, I'm no longer happy with you doing this to me.

Mm-hmm. . So I think that painting that picture of what the future's gonna be like so that that person who knows what they're getting into has gotta be super helpful. Yeah. . Yeah, 

Emily Carveth: I think so. It's, it's one of the parts I really enjoy about my job is just when I get to participate in those types of convers.

Amy Castro: Feel like [00:23:00] people are appreciative of that or resentful of the Now you made me look at the reality . I've been so 

Emily Carveth: fortunate. I've had really lovely feedback from the clients that I work with and the staff. Um, I feel, you know, I feel so much compassion for the social workers out there that don't get good feedback.

Mm-hmm. , I think something that is helpful. , um, in my position is I really talked with the staff before I dole in that, um, my services are optional to the clients. They're never gonna be forced to talk to me. I would say the only time I would immediately step in in the situation is that if I was concerned about the client's safety, , um, like if they were gonna hurt themselves or, you know, that kind of concern.

But, um, the staff has have been so great of, you know, speaking to the clients in that, you know, we have a social worker on [00:24:00] staff. It's up to you whether you wanna talk to her, but she's a great resources for situations like this. Would you like to speak with her? And sometimes they say yes and so, You know, maybe no, but I'd like her contact information.

So it really respects the client's choice about whether to engage with me or not. And I try to frame all of my conversations with them like, Hey, just, you know, I'm an outsider. I'm offering the these suggestions. Please take them with a grain of salt. Ultimately, the decision has to be right for you and your family.

Um, so I think, you know, really respecting the client's autonomy in that area helps soften those conversations. You know, and I always try to make it very clear to the clients that there's no judgment from me either way, whatever they decide to do, it's okay. 

Amy Castro: So I can't wait to see when you. [00:25:00] Complete that guide that you were talking about, you know, of how, how to talk to your vet or how to talk to your vet staff, because I think that's, that's so needed on a variety of levels, but I, you know, there's something about.

Um, and, and sometimes it's generational. I think that the doctor is the doctor and we don't question the doctor, and we just sit there and we listen and we say, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And people are not helping that communication process for either you or the, or the veterinarian. So I think that will be super, super helpful.

I know I had put on the list about compassion fatigue. Do you think that's worth talking about as well? Sure. I'd be happy to talk about that. Do you see a lot of compassion fatigue in the work that you do on the part of the staff? I do. Um, 

Emily Carveth: compassion fatigue ends burnout. you see among veterinary professionals, they're, they're two kind of, they're two related things, but they're different.

Compassion fatigue is something that any healthcare professional can experience. Like me as a social worker, I can experience it [00:26:00] too. Um, where when you're exposed to other people's trauma or direct trauma of your own, , um, on a really frequent basis, it can affect your ability to feel empathy and compassion for your patients.

So sometimes folks will say to me, or I'll have experienced it myself, where all of a sudden I, I find it difficult to really care in the same way. Or I'll find it, you know, the staff will find it difficult to get motivated to come to work and really engage with the clients and the patients. They'll just feel a little cut off.

I, I think that's the simplest explanation of compassion fatigue I can probably give. Um, but it's absolutely frontline, like EMTs can absolutely experience that because it's the effect that exposure to trauma has on your brain. A lot of times just awareness that that's even a thing that happens. Cuz some people [00:27:00] really blame themselves when this starts to happen to them.

They think that they're a bad person. Mm-hmm. , they think they're, you know, becoming a sociopath. It's like, no . This is absolutely something that can happen to any healthcare professional. I'll be honest, I've struggled with it myself and it's been a learning process for me. Trying to learn how to, can I help the staff with this, you know, learn how to care for themselves in the midst of the trauma that they're going to experience.

Either something traumatic that's happened to the patient, or, um, the client talking about the trauma that they've been through, the pets can, um, that their pet's been through, can also impact your brain in the same way as witnessing the trauma yourself. And then burnout is a little bit different from that.

Burnout is when perceived demands outweighing resources available to you. [00:28:00] Um, so it's, you know, external surroundings. Sometimes folks feel like. , you know, based on the number of things that their workplace is not meeting their needs, um, and not allowing them to do the type of care that they really want to do.

So that can happen to a lot of veterinary professionals too. 

Amy Castro: Yeah. You know, it's interesting that when, when you were talking about compassion fatigue, I. , I have said on several occasions when I've been at the vet with rescue pets mm-hmm. and, and actually even my own pet, um, I, which I had very, very recently had my, uh, pet had passed away and the veterinary staff was so compassionate and kind and, and, and, and nice.

And I was kind of, and it is a little scary. I was kind of matter of fact about. because in rescue, at least in my experience, we see a lot of death and dying. Yeah. And I've said on many occasions, I have no tears left. . Mm-hmm. , I have no tears left for that. [00:29:00] Mm-hmm. . Um, and it's not that I don't feel badly, but I've been able to take my own kind of personal emotion out of it.

And I, I can see on, I can see on one hand that it can be a bad thing. Obviously it could, if you're not then showing empathy and compassion to somebody else who's experiencing the same thing. But can that also be a good thing from the standpoint of. Not taking so many of the things. So personally, like you said before, people suffer from perfectionism or imposter syndrome.

Mm-hmm. or just, you know, feeling bad when there's not a good outcome and being able to separate yourself from that. Sure. 

Emily Carveth: Um, it sounds like what you're talking about a little bit is a little bit of the desensitization that happens when you're repeatedly exposed. And I don't think that's necessarily the worst thing that can happen to a person.

And a lot of professionals really do like your, like yourself, feel a little upset about that, that that's happening to themselves. But it's a very, [00:30:00] I just really try to humanize that when people talk to me about that, like that's a very normal response to continuous exposure to trauma. And sometimes it does give your brain a little bit of a break.

I was reading some research recently about the difference between cognitive empathy and effective empathy. And effective empathy is when you're feeling like you're directly experiencing the emotions and feelings of the person that you're speaking with or the patient that you're witnessing. So some people, myself included, can have a very bodily experience of empathy.

I think of effective empathy, like when someone tells you that they have a stomach ache and your stomach starts to hurt, that's like effective empathy. Okay. Whereas cognitive empathy is understanding mentally what that person or that patient could be going through. So it's like kind of up here and your head nice and you're, [00:31:00] and you're not necessarily having those deeply visceral sensations because sometimes that's the hardest part to manage is the.

I just feel that person suffering so much and you start to feel the feelings of suffering. Whereas if some people can kind of keep it up here and like mentally have a picture of what the person's go through, doesn't mean they're any less empathy, empathetic. It's just a different form of 

Amy Castro: empathy. So to kind of pull things together here beyond improved communication, asking good questions, asking.

What about after, you know, aftercare things like. Is there anything else that you can say that we could do as pet parents, as clients of veterinary practices to support our vets and staff and, you know, maybe make their lives or their jobs a little bit easier? Oh, that's 

Emily Carveth: such a thoughtful question. Um, definitely.

Telling your veterinary staff that you're appreciative of their [00:32:00] efforts. It really does go a long way because a lot of times the veterinary folks are getting screamed at and yelled at and told that they're terrible people and that they're money hungry and lots of other things that, you know, folks who are not necessarily at their best mo at their best selves at that moment because they're scared.

Right. Um, might be express. So just verbal appreciation can really help some clients of ours like descending cards after the fact. And I'll tell you, the staff keeps those cards. I have some cards from clients that I've helped, and I have those on my desk. And whenever I'm feeling a little down, I will, or you know, I'm struggling.

I'll look at those cards and remember I made an impact on someone, right? Hearing how. The team has helped you can help them remember why they're doing what they're doing, and for most [00:33:00] people, . Holding onto that meaning and purpose of their work is really what helps 'em come to work every day. Because you can sometimes forget why you started in the first place.

Um, 

Amy Castro: yeah. , 

Emily Carveth: you know? Yep. And, um, sometimes clients will like, send in some donuts or coffee or food. Uh, veterinary folks love to get food 

Amy Castro: because a lot of times Yes, they do. We really don't stop to 

Emily Carveth: eat, you know, during the day. So even just something as simple as like a fruit basket or some donuts. Oh my gosh, folks love that.

Pizza. 

Amy Castro: Pizza, yes. I just sent pizza. I just sent pizza a little bit ago. . Yeah. Yeah. Food. Food definitely is a, is a, is a good idea. It seems. Just showing your appreciate. Yeah. I like the idea of, of sending, you know, sending a note or dropping off a note or whatever. I mean, it could take you 30 seconds to. , you know, address it and maybe not 30 seconds, a minute to write it, address it, and stick a stamp on it, or drop it off when you're out and about.

[00:34:00] But it can be an anchor for somebody to hold onto of the fact that, yes, like you said, you know, I did have a positive impact and people do appreciate what I do. Probably for every person that takes the time to do that, there's probably dozens of others who felt that way, but just didn't take the time. So taking the time to real to show that appreciation is obviously greatly appreciated.

So thank you for those suggestions. Anything else that you would wanna say that might be helpful for people that are listening to the podcast? Um, I 

Emily Carveth: think sometimes what can be really scary for folks, like if they're coming into an emergency situation is the wait time that's involved. Um, mm-hmm. , like our, all of our hospitals in Connecticut, they typically are experiencing, you know, several hours long wait times for their pet to get treated.

And so sometimes what can be a little reassuring for folks if like, oh my God, they're hearing that there's an eight hour wait for their pet. [00:35:00] That's not necessarily a bad thing because that means that their pet is stable enough to kind of hang on. We triage pet's care in the emergency room, just like you would in a human emergency room.

The person who's right, you know, more serious gets treated first, and then the folks that are more stable get treated a little bit later down the line. Absolutely the same thing. In a veterinary emergency hospital. Mm-hmm. . So sometimes the, and I get it, the weight is so hard. I've been on the other end myself and it totally stinks to have what the heck is going on.

Yeah. And um, so that's one little tidbit. The other tidbit I have for folks who are, say, going in to see a specialist, This has been helpful for me with my own doctor's visits is preparing a list of questions that you have ahead of time and bringing it in with you. Cuz a lot of times, oh, that's a good idea.

A lot of times what happens is you're in the heat of the moment. It maybe is a stressful conversation. Perhaps you're [00:36:00] getting news that you don't want to hear, and all of the questions that you had to fly outta your head at the time, and then you go home and go, oh shoot, I didn't ask. And that can get a lot of your needs met at the first appointment and can also save some follow up time for both you and your medical 

Amy Castro: team.

That's, that's good advice and And good advice for when you go to your human doctor too. . Have those questions written down. Yeah. Yes, . Awesome. All right. Well, Emily, thank you so much for being here with us today and for shedding the light on the world of the veterinary social worker. I hope that my veterinarians, I've got several of them between the rescue and, uh, and my personal pets.

So hopefully they'll be able to bring somebody like yourself on board to help humans. Yes. Um, in addition to helping the pets. Yes. So thank you so much for being here and for everybody out there, thank you for listening to Starlight Pet Talk [00:37:00] and give your pet a hug for us today. Yes, definit. 

Emily Carveth: You've been listening to the Starlight Pet Talk podcast.

We're glad you joined us to gain new insight on the many loving ways to adopt and care for your pets. Be sure to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. And if you want more information, go to starlight pet talk.com because your pet can't talk. Be sure to join us next time for Starlight Pet Talk.