I think it’s extremely bizarre when we lose confidence in a particular service provider we have been using – such as an automobile mechanic- or even a dry cleaner. We generally have no problem severing that relationship and moving on to one that we do trust.
However, when it comes to our feelings about a veterinarian that we feel is not providing our cats the best of care, we often find ourselves in a major dilemma about how to handle the situation. We often start second-guessing ourselves, and trying to find the “right” words to deal with the problem and requesting a second-opinion can be extremely difficult at times.
To better prevent “sticky” situations, what should we look for when choosing a veterinarian who is “trustworthy”? Here are a few things to consider.
One who is open to learning and keeps current with his or her profession
There are some veterinarians who appear perfectly content to use the same treatment methods and standards they used when they graduated from veterinary school. Perhaps their practice is overwhelming and they don’t have the time or are unwilling to make the time to continue their education. Does your veterinarian eagerly keep up with the latest treatment methods? This is an excellent question to ask when interviewing a prospective veterinary practitioner.
One who is honest and open
It’s unrealistic to expect that a veterinarian will know absolutely everything about all medical conditions or behavior problems. A trustworthy veterinarian is likely to respond to a question by saying, “I just don’t know; let me do some research on this issue and get back to you.” I expect that a trustworthy veterinarian will follow up and get back to me with the information I requested.
However, if a veterinarian is being arrogant or gives you the feeling that he/she thinks you are bothersome; using or choosing this practitioner is not the best option.
One who respectfully gives you treatment options
We all want to give our cats the best of care. This said, there are times when the cost of certain treatments may not be within our reach and making decisions are extremely difficult. A trustworthy veterinarian will take the time to carefully explain all treatment options, what they entail and any negative side-effects, and will offer them all without judging the client.
One who treats their clients with respect
Does your veterinarian seem to “pooh-pooh” ideas you offer? We may be more knowledgeable about feline nutrition than our veterinarian. Does the veterinarian give the client the brush off, or keep an open mind? Building a strong relationship with a veterinarian requires mutual trust and respect. Although it’s not easy to locate a feline –savvy veterinarian we consider trustworthy; one on whom we can rely to provide our cats with the best of care, there are veterinarians worthy of our trust.
I am lucky to have had my pick of some of the brightest, compassionate, trustworthy practitioners over the many years I have lived with cats. I can recall only one lousy experience years ago when we lived in New York. I felt some odd bumps under the skin of my Siamese cat and Yo-Yo when my trusted vet was out of town. Not wanting to wait another few weeks I had no choice but to have her checked out by another veterinarian.
After he examined her he said it was nothing of concern – that it was possibly insect bites. I replied, “Tell me it’s nothing to worry about after you biopsy those bumps.” He unenthusiastically agreed to perform the procedure, telling me I was wasting my money – but would call me with results. A few days later he called saying, “It’s bad news. Your cat has Fibrosarcoma.”
In my haste, I didn’t listen to my inner-voice. Bur something about him felt “off.” He was arrogant. I felt he was incompetent since he didn’t suggest the biopsy first. I had put myself between and rock and a hard place because I was worried.
As a result of this unfortunate event I now trust my gut when I am choosing a practitioner whom I feel innately is more than competent to competently care for our kitties. After an extended search thankfully I have found one who meets all the above criteria.
A final point: a good vet can be an excellent vet when he/she thoroughly understands cat behavior.
What do you look for in choosing a trustworthy veterinarian? What are your criteria? Share your opinions in a comment.
Associated: Elisa’s bad vet experience.