The Starving Veterinarian, a poem by Dr. Ashley Hill | The Trupanion Blog
Underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company

The Starving Veterinarian

dog at veterinarian

Few pet owners really get to see the impact the veterinary industry has on veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and hospital staff. With all of the good days and lives saved come a significant amount of stress, fatigue, and misperception. Many veterinary professionals enter the industry with a passion for animals and a desire to do good, but are faced with financial stresses and long hours that take a toll. Still, they love what they do.

We recently came across a poem by Dr. Ashley Hill, general practitioner at City Park Animal Clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, that captures the sentiment we hear from veterinary professionals every day. With a passion for animals and helping people, Dr. Hill always wanted to be a veterinarian. She is the one who picks up the phone after hours and responds to client emails immediately. She feels most at home when she’s at work, doing what she loves.

See more about the inspiration behind the poem in part two.

The Starving Veterinarian

I awake with a groan, what a way to start,
Not the alarm clock but my phone, another bleeding heart.
I skip breakfast and grab some fruit,
The fastest thing to eat en route.
I think to myself, “don’t despair,
I’ll eat when I get there.”
Instead of gratitude,
I am met with attitude,
At just 5 minutes passed 8,
I’m greeted with “You’re late. How could you make us wait?”
Personally I’m impressed,
I didn’t get to eat, but I did get dressed.
You were so worried, but don’t dismay,
Thanks to us, your pet will be okay.
But “Oh, by the way…”
“I won’t be able to pay today.”
And as I stitch up this doggy,
My cereal sits getting soggy.
I throw the sad attempt away,
“Maybe I’ll just go out today.”
I see patients back to back,
There’s just no time for a snack.
The way things are going I have a hunch,
I’ll once again work through lunch.
“I’ll just go and grab something, it’s not that far…”
Then in walks a dog, hit by a car.
My techs order pizza and take shifts,
I might get some if I’m swift,
They bring out a piece as I take out a mass,
Ask if I want any, “For now, I’ll pass.”
Maybe I can just have a granola bar,
No time, a cat needs CPR.
I step out for a moment just to feel the sun,
“Sorry,” they say “we’ve got another one.”
I’m feeling weak and looking pale,
As I bandage this broken nail.
I finally get home, but the day’s not done,
A text on the phone, “Can you see another one?”
“At least I’ll be thinner”
I chuckle, half-way through prepping dinner.
With a sigh I turned off the stove,
And off to another emergency I drove.
When I get home so late at night,
I find I’m tired, and have lost my appetite.
There’s pain in my heart and in my head,
I should probably just go to bed.
But as my eyelids fall,
Another call,
“Please, my dog is very sick, I think it’s time.”
I just want rest, is that such a crime?
“I’m sorry, but it’s late and I have needs too.”
“Please doc, it’s not me, *my pet* really needs you.”
A long pause, I’m such an oaf,
Damn my allegiance to this oath.
“But she can’t get up, could you come to us?”
By now you know me, it should be obvious.
And out of bed I crawl,
In the middle of the night out to a house call,
I walk through the door, and on the floor,
I saw a sweet creature, barely a dog anymore.
“She hasn’t eaten, I can’t remember when she’s last had a meal.”
I knelt by this angel, “Dear sweet girl, I know how you feel.”
I helped this dog pass peacefully,
And celebrate this life tearfully.
And as I push away the pain,
I go to bed and think, I would do it all again.
As a vet I am starving, for days I am hungry,
But please, go on how I’m “only in it for the money”.
It is not my fault your animal is sick,
But it is your fault, when I stay passed my shift.
It’s not my fault that you can’t pay.
But it is your fault why I’m so tired today.
Please don’t blame me for your issues,
I have also had my fair share of abuse.
Just because I’m not as open,
Does not discount that I, too, am broken,
I am affected for days,
In so many ways, and (so you’re aware), I am not okay.
But I’ll get up tomorrow, and keep it up,
Maybe not for you, but at least for your pup.
Weeks later, in the middle of my shift,
I receive an unexpected gift.
A basket of treats, and a hand written card.
“I appreciate what you do, don’t work too hard!”
And with the words that I read,
My soul had been fed.
I take a moment off my feet,
To finally get a small bit of it to eat,
“Geez, you look tired, are you okay?”
I smile and nod. I am tired. “It’s just been a long day.”

Thank you, Dr. Hill, for sharing your words with us. This sentiment is what makes Veterinarian Appreciation Day so important to us! Learn more about Veterinarian Appreciation Day and take a moment to say thank you the next time you’re at the veterinary hospital.

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