Thirty years ago, we would have only relied on word of mouth to promote a veterinary practice. Before Facebook or Instagram, people would meet up and talk about the experiences they’ve had with a particular vet who either made them feel better or one they felt didn’t do enough for their beloved pet.
What about now? Is social media really a good thing for veterinarian professionals?
Today, it is so much easier to grow business, spread the word, get in touch with other vets, and learn new information thanks to social apps. We are always just one click from getting answers.
That said, in many ways social media is still on the rise—as is veterinary medicine. We are still trying to build a community for veterinarians, new grads, and vet students and are in the process of creating more and more support groups. The internet is a very important tool in this regard.
There are different mentoring programs, IG accounts such as @louisa_the_vet or @dralexhynes, who are open to help young veterinarians develop their medical judgment and achieve their full potential. I noticed that students of recently graduates talk easier on the online. Online space has created exciting opportunities and this space is growing at a fast pace.
For instance, there are different hashtags on Instagram, such as #normalizefailure, which is meant to help people in the medical field flow easily through whatever daily challenges makes them feel down. The photo-based platform also creates safe spaces for people to share their #bigwins. It helps people acknowledge that there are thousands of other people who may be going through the same hard times.
Think about it; we are attached to our phones almost 24/7. Imagine you are having a bad day because you just lost a patient in a case that seemed impossible and you are scrolling down your feed and see a post in which another vet is telling a very similar story. A peer is sharing their loss and even though it may not be one-hundred percent the same, it helps. One day I was feeling so sad and a little angry because I had to perform a euthanasia on a very dear patient, and it was his owners decision. I was feeling that I didn’t fight hard enough for him. That maybe there was something more that I could have done. And while I was feeling so disappointed in myself, I found a post on my feed that was describing how we should deal with euthanasia. How euthanasia will always bother us and will make us question our choices, but that I wasn’t alone; my colleagues are probably doing the same thing at the same time all across the globe. And it made me feel better.
Social media brings people closer together.
In a world where veterinarians don’t often get the same respect as human doctors, it’s important to have a platform where we can talk to each other in times of need. Today, our patients can’t speak for themselves and our clients are becoming more and more difficult to approach so it’s great to know that in a heartbeat we can talk to one of our colleagues, no matter what their geographical coordinates are.
One thing to consider is how social media affect our clients. The truth is, it could easily turn into a battlefield. Social media makes it easier for clients to complain about whatever they want, even when they are wrong about something. Most of the times, it’s just their grieve talking. They need someone to blame for their loss, someone to take it out on. And the person they usually find is the doctor. So we should never take it personally. It’s not even about you, it is about a terrible situation, that you’re not responsible for, but some clients are trying to make you feel guilty about it. The funny part is that some clients realize what they’ve done and come back apologizing.
Still, it is our job to up our game and be the best doctors we can be so that the reviews our clients give us online are mainly positive. Mainly being the keyword. We can’t be perfect or make everyone happy and it is beyond our human abilities to save each and every one of our patients.
Social media has helped me a lot in the last year. Since I am from Romania (Eastern Europe), the internet is a way for me to talk to veterinarians from all over the world. Whether it is North America, Australia, or Lebanon, it doesn’t matter where you are from, you can ask advice to people who are not necessarily close to you and I did. I have reached out to veterinarians on the online space regarding some of my cases. A few months ago, I was in doubt and I wanted to find out if it is safe to use more than just one combination of NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). And I wanted to ask someone who has more experience than myself and works in a more medically advanced country. And it really helped me.
Although medicine is not something you can learn from the internet, some posts might bring new information to your attention, and give you new ideas or even help you solve a case. What’s important to keep in mind for vet students and new professionals is the fact that we’ve all been where you are now. We have all been scared. I remember when I used to think that I will not be able to memorize all the drug doses or that I will make a mistake and an animal will suffer from it. Take it step by step. Keep your mind open. Try to absorb as much information as possible, from all the veterinarians you hear or read, and then you will shape your own personal medical opinion.