☒The role of helping clients in veterinary practice can be a source of job satisfaction, however the emotional labour associated with client interactions can also contribute to psychological distress in veterinary staff. Clients may present with a variety of reactions, often involving underlying complexity linked to the animal relationship. When an animal patient reaches end of life, the impact on both animal owners and veterinary staff can be devastating. For some individuals, the end of the enduring relationship between animal and human can trigger severe psychological distress, and occasionally suicide. Understanding factors which can influence an individual clients’ vulnerability to experiencing distressing grief and loss responses may help veterinary staff respond more effectively. Although it is recognised that veterinary staff would benefit from training in communication and social support skills for grieving clients, the support required by some vulnerable and distressed clients is sometimes beyond the scope of veterinary practice. This presentation will discuss potential areas and resources for expanding support options for bereaved and grieving clients.
An ethically challenging situation may be defined as a situation where we are required to manage competing choices, where there may be conflict between the interests of different stakeholders, and no easy means of prioritising one way forward over another.
Veterinarians commonly encounter ethically challenging situations in their daily working lives(Batchelor and McKeegan, 2012, Crane et al., 2015, Kipperman et al., 2018, Moses et al., 2018, Lehnus et al., 2019). These can lead to moral stress, moral distress and, potentially, moral injury(Fawcett and Mullan, 2018, Arbe Montoya et al., 2019, Dean et al., 2019).
Because of their potential contribution to psychological morbidity and mortality of veterinarians, it is important to understand the types of ethically challenging situations veterinarians may encounter, and develop strategies to help veterinarians navigate these successfully. This talk will summarise current knowledge of the link between moral distress and mental wellbeing of veterinarians, and where we need to look in the future.