My dog tends to make a “high pitched” squeeeeeeeeee sound when he meets new men. Since my dog, Dexter, is mostly around women, I surmise that the soprano notes he hits are a warning alarm of sorts. “Who are you, what are you,” sort of thing. However, his veterinarian, orthopedic surgeon, and dog groomer are all men. And he never lets out a “squee” sound around them. Does gender matter to you when it comes to your dog’s veterinarian?
The National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) administers the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. According to JustVetData.com, “The proportion of female DVM recipients documented in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) has been over 50% for more than 20 years, and now stands at almost 90%.”
Women are dominating the veterinary medicine field. Why, but more important, does it matter to you whether your dog’s regular veterinarian is a man or a woman?
In the United States, there has yet to be a female president and women make up less than 15 percent of Fortune 500 company executive officers. Veterinary medicine breaks the gender barrier, with a shift from male majority to female majority. The rate is growing so rapidly that The Center for Health Workforce Studies projects seven out of 10 veterinarians will be women by the year 2030.
In a study reported by VeterinaryTeamBrief.com, a group of 50 companion animal practitioners were videotaped interacting with clients and patients.
Results revealed that female vets conducted more relationship-centered appointments, provided more positive rapport-building statements, talked more to the patient, and were perceived as less hurried or rushed compared with male veterinarians. Clients were more likely to provide lifestyle or social information to female veterinarians.
Results of APPA’s latest National Pet Owners Survey report 79.7 million pet owning households in the United States, representing a 50 percent gain over the past two decades.
And these pets are viewed, rightly so, as family members. If a human doctor is rude or condescending to you, chances are you don’t return to that doctor again. Or you go on Yelp or some other website, blog, or review process to let others know that Dr. Blah Blah has zero bedside manner.
We expect care, compassion, and proper “bedside” manners for our pets, too.
In an article for Embrace Pet Insurance, Dr. Patty Khuly writes, “A veterinarian’s emotional quality is a big factor in his or her so-called “bedside manner.” Men are at a disadvantage here because research convincingly demonstrates they have a tougher time understanding non-verbal emotional cues. Meanwhile, women are more facile at intuiting the emotional subtext of an interaction.”
Do you agree with that assessment? Are women more understanding and able to discern non-verbal reactions in veterinary medicine?
Personal Mixed Bag
For me, it’s a mixed bag. As a dog mom, there are specific attributes a veterinarian must have in order for me to consider allowing him or her to treat my dog. You can read the whole list of how to find a good veterinarian here.
Bottom Line: Skills, compassion, interaction with my dog, and bedside manner coupled with feedback from other clients.
I have dropped veterinarians who had zero bedside manner and lacked compassion: Both men and women. It’s hard for me to find a good veterinarian in my area who has both the skill set, updated technology, and caring attitude in dealing with clients that most of us want for our pets.
Gender doesn’t matter to me, as long as the veterinarian possesses the above attributes and keeps up with technology. Additionally, he or she must be open minded in talking to me about second opinions, holistic medicine, and not being offended if I ask questions.
After all, my dog’s life is in their hands, quite literally and figuratively.
Dogs can be choosy. Some dogs prefer one gender over another. For my dog, I want him to be comfortable around both genders. Our veterinarian is a male but his assistants are female so at any time, Dexter will be with both men and women in the room. I don’t want him to feel threatened by either gender.
Some dogs do warm up more to a certain gender, this is true.
For me, personally, there has to be a level of “bedside manners” that put me at ease. I’ve seen my dog’s vet get down on all fours to be put my dog at ease. My dog’s vet has called me on weekends if I was in a state of panic when my last Cocker was nearing the end of her life. He is special and I know this.
At The Harrowing Time
If the time comes that your dog needs assistance in their final moments of life and crossing to the other side, you want a very special relationship with the veterinarian. He or she will be remembered in your heart with those final moments. I know I broke down into an unimaginable state of grief and deep shock when my first Cocker Spaniel was euthanized at the veterinarian’s office. She lost quality of life and I did not want her to suffer. I am certain my dog’s vet did not expect my reaction but neither did I.
Your dog’s well being is in the hands of his veterinarian, so it is up to you, the dog’s parent, to feel comfortable in speaking about facets of the dog’s care including an open line of communication.
It Matters That Much
I travel 90 minutes or so each way to see my dog’s veterinarian. We do have access to an emergency clinic in my area, but I choose to travel 90 minutes (or more) each way to see Dr. Steve. He was originally only a half-hour’s drive away when I was hunting for a vet that offered laser treatments for my last dog’s cancer. Over the years, I followed him from clinic to clinic and now to his own practice.
Gender does not matter but beside manner and taking the time to build a relationship do for me.
In our continuing series of “Medicine Versus Mom,” pet blogger Rachel Sheppard of the My Kid Has Paws blog shares her vet tech side of things.
Does gender matter to you when choosing a veterinarian? Do you have a preference?
Want more articles like this? Check out other posts in the Medicine Vs Mom series here: