Lee Pitts: Dr. Death, MD, DVM
February 17, 2011
Large animal vets are getting harder to find than a Martha Stewart bedspread in a bunkhouse. There is a shortage of large animal vets out in the country and I fault vet schools for putting so much emphasis on grade point average as a requirement for entry. Anyone who has a 4.0 grade point average is bound to figure it out sooner or later that they can make a lot more money spaying little Lhasa Apsos than they can semen testing wild and dangerous bulls.
I think I came up with a solution the last time I was in my Doctor’s office. He was complaining about Obamacare and how the insurance companies were driving him crazy and he said he was considering quitting the profession just as soon as he got all his college loans paid off. (He’s about 45-years-old and only has another ten years of payments left.) I’m not talking here about just another average sawbones or pill roller, he’s a very good doctor with a thriving practice. He told me a lot of his colleagues are talking the same way and that’s when it hit me. Why not recruit large animal vets from the ranks of disgruntled MDs? I figure that if vet school requires four years of training, MDs should only require six more years of retraining to become qualified.
My Doc would make a great vet as he raises a few cows himself. In fact, during a typical appointment, my Doc talks to me for two minutes about my problems and then he asks me questions about cows for 30 minutes. And then I pay him!
“Just think,” I said as I explained my idea to my Doc, “the anatomy of the cow and some humans are similar and many of the diseases and the drugs are identical. (Even though the people pills cost ten times more than the cow equivalent.) And just think, no more insurance companies to deal with because cows can’t get coverage.”
“My luck I’d get my DVM degree and Obamacare would be extended to cows,” he replied.
“Still,” I countered, “there are many other positives to becoming a large animal vet. No more credit checks, electrocardiograms, hypochondriacs or looking at grotesque human bodies. You wouldn’t have to worry about how your sutures look or share your old magazines with cows impatiently twiddling their hooves in the waiting room. You could trade in your white coat and tie for more comfortable fitting clothes and there’d be no malpractice suits because horses and goats don’t have lawyers.”
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“So far they don’t, but I think it’s only a matter of time,” said my very astute Doc.
I ignored him and continued. “You wouldn’t even have to give up on all the free stuff you get from drug company reps. Only, instead of free pens and a trip to Costa Rica, you’d get deworming paste and a trip to the NFR. You might get paid in beef, eggs or milk but at least you’d get paid.”
“Would I still be able to play golf on Wednesdays?” my Doc asked.
“Heavens no! You’d be on call 24 hours, seven days a week and you wouldn’t have nurses to do all your hard work for you. You’d have to trade in your Lexus for a pickup and you could catch an animal disease like wooden tongue or bloat. And forget about respect. Instead of “Doctor” you’ll be given a catchy nickname like “Killer” or “Dr. Death.” You’d also have to diagnose diseases yourself and you couldn’t just act as a booking agent for your buddy specialists by ordering more tests. The only “lab” tests or “cat” scans you’d be doing would be on a Black Labrador or a Siamese. You can’t tell your patient to turn his head and cough or tell a cow not to eat any more red meat because they’re already vegetarians. Your patients can’t tell you where it hurts or give you clues because they can’t talk.”
“That’s a big positive right there,” my Doc said, warming to the idea.
“And think about this,” I said. “If you do happen to make a ‘grave’ mistake, or can’t figure out the simple something that your patient is suffering from, you just put them down or let them die. That’s something you can’t do as a people Doctor.”
“You’d be surprised about that,” my Doc said.