In light of Elisa’s story of the veterinarian who hit a dog (see link below), it occurred to me, as I am sure it has occurred to many others, that veterinary schools should apply a personality test to applicants. I have spent the last 30 minutes researching how students apply to veterinary college. I am a good online researcher and I have not seen firm information which sets out a requirement that student applications to veterinary school must have a suitable personality for the work.
Such a personality test should focus on compassion. A veterinarian must have empathy for his or her patients. The student applicant must have an unshakeable and immutable compassion towards animals. It must be in his or her DNA. There are a lot of people like this who care deeply about animal welfare. These are the people who should become veterinarians. Such levels of compassion can overcome a perceived academic weakness.
The primary focus on applicants to veterinary colleges is on academic achievement. I understand that. Obviously veterinarians must be intelligent people, able to solve problems and provide accurate diagnoses. They must also be good business managers because they going to end up managing staff in one way or another. And they must have good interpersonal skills. It is a given that they must have an interest in animals and this interest must not be faked. I wonder how many applicants to veterinary college pretend that they love animals when they don’t.
But compassion and a love for animals is arguably the most important quality for a veterinarian. He or she will work with animals under stress for very many years. She will encounter difficult and frustrating moments in her work. She will encounter difficult clients who may argue with and so she will have to have good people skills to deal with it. But the frustration and stress that she works under must not spill over into anger against her patients. She must always have the deepest respect for her patients and this stems from compassion. Compassion is a sensitivity towards animals and people who are less fortunate.
There must be this inherent gentleness towards animals in all veterinarians. And I don’t see a test for this in applications to veterinary college. It might be wise to focus on this and make it a standard prerequisite. Arguably it should be at the top of the list. It should be regarded as a foundation requirement before everything else. Academic achievement alone cannot be enough. It must be built upon compassion and respect for animals. Only then can you avoid these unsettling cases of veterinarians abusing animals.