One of the most difficult things I must do as a veterinarian is to make treatment recommendations to horse owners who face financial hardships.
An unfortunate truth about veterinary medicine is that it is a business. While most veterinarians get into the profession with altruistic motivations---to help animals or to find ways to make them healthier---the reality is that those goals can’t be pursued without some sort of financial reward. It’s wonderful to help horses, but a person does have to eat.
A successful business makes money, and, in the case of equine medicine, the money comes from people who own horses. So, on one level, the more money the business makes, the more successful it is.
Still, a veterinary practice is quite different from, say, a car dealership or a real estate brokerage. In fact, a veterinarian has some significant advantages over many other sorts of business people. If you want to buy a car, it’s pretty easy to survey the market; you can compare prices at dealers all over town, shop among similar models, pick financing packages, and so forth. The buyer of a car is on nearly equal footing with the seller. It’s the same with buying houses, detergents, blue jeans and many other products.
Contrast that with a veterinary business, where the buyer---the horse owner---is at something of a disadvantage when it comes to evaluating the products and services offered by the seller ---the veterinarian. The horse owner doesn’t know nearly as much as the veterinarian and so must have faith that a diagnosis is accurate and the treatment options presented are valid and inclusive.
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