“The problem is that clients are horrible and are driving us out of the profession.”

“People like this are the reasons veterinarians are killing themselves.”

“I do blame clients.”

“Clients complain but the truth is, they don’t want to do what needs to be done to solve the problem.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

These are a few of the comments I’ve seen on social media from veterinary professionals recently. Just a small percentage. In fact, I’ve lost track of how many client-shaming posts and comments cross my screen on a daily basis. And yes, my algorithm is skewed towards posts by veterinary professionals for veterinary professionals. But if you think this attitude is staying just between us, you’re sorely mistaken.

Can it really be such a surprise that clients come to us prepared for battle when we tell them over and over again in public-facing posts that THEY are the reasons veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any profession (a “fact” that is not supported by the statistics)? When we openly praise curbside service as a way to avoid ever having to see a client face to face again? When we refuse to listen to them AND the data, instead gaslighting them and insisting things like ‘pets do better in the back’ even though empirical evidence and their own experiences with their pets say otherwise?

I think most of us will agree that the relationship between veterinary professionals and the public is broken. But like any relationship, it’s two-sided. And we need to work on our side if we’re going to save it

If we want clients to bring their pets to us, we need to be welcoming.

If we want clients to respect us, we need to respect them.

If we want clients to trust us, we need to earn their trust.

Continuing to blame clients for our unhappiness only further breaks down their trust in us and exacerbates the problem.

And let’s not forget the effect of all this client shaming and negativity on our own mental health.

When we are constantly bombarded with posts about how awful clients are, and how they’re ruining the profession, and how they are literally killing us, how are we supposed to feel about clients?

Yes, we need safe spaces to talk about our struggles. Yes, it’s okay to vent about specific instances of clients mistreating us. Yes, it’s okay to set expectations around how you are treated by clients.

But our profession has reached a state of normative discontent. We’re like a Weight Watchers meeting where everyone gathers more to talk about how much they hate how their bodies look than about how to be healthier. We find more satisfaction from bonding over hating clients than on working on solutions to improve our relationships with them.

We need to break the cycle.

It’s okay if you’re not there yet. Many in our profession have suffered from huge amounts of trauma, especially over the last two years. So, if you’re still working through that trauma and aren’t ready to get to the nitty-gritty parts of fixing the problem, that’s fine. Turn your focus onto healing yourself. But don’t use it as an excuse to pass your trauma onto clients who don’t deserve it. Otherwise, we’re no better than the very clients we’re complaining about.

Need help overcoming the negativity and improving your relationship with clients? I can help. I’m going to be opening spots in my new support group program and one on one coaching
Email me at [email protected] to learn more.