My wife Ginny is a veterinarian. Being a vet like her is different from being a human doctor in several ways:
- Vets emphasize prevention, to avoid avoidable disease
- For years many have offered “pet portal” software to view your records from home (let me Google that for you)
- Treatment decisions are entirely up to the client (though there are certainly haughty vets who don’t like to be questioned)
- Cost is always a consideration
- To her the “patient” is not the same as the client
- and many more.
But probably the biggest difference is embodied in the excellent talk below, from TEDMED 2014 in Vancouver, in which a “people doctor” gets called to consult … at a zoo … and discovers a world of new insights that have changed how she practices.
The amusing thing is that Ginny has always joked about how “people doctors” only have to know one species – and often only one system in that specialty – while veterinarians have to know all the systems in all the species they treat. (Eyes, heart, teeth, kidneys, you name it… not to mention variations like a dog or cat uterus having two “horns” (forks).) That difference turns out to be a joke at the end of this.
It’s a thought provoking 18 minutes. Enjoy. (Email subscribers, if you can’t see it, click here to come online.)
Here’s a link to the Zoobiquity conference she mentions, where vets and people docs share thoughts. That would be fun to attend. Check out the site – its banner asks, in sequence:
- Do beluga whales get breast cancer?
- Do dragonflies get obese?
- Do pandas get eating disorders?
- Do flamingos get heart attacks?
- Do koalas get STDs?
Then, this … check out the intersection:
p.s. This talk is part of a new list created on LinkedIn by Dutch colleague Lucien Engelen, 10 TED Talks that change(d) healthcare. You can read it there, or you can watch it as a YouTube list. But this one isn’t on that list.)
Kathleen Dillon says
Thank you for this. I love the trend described in this TED talk. It has much to offer! The picture of Ginny is wonderful.
I didn’t hear anything about dog and cat uteruses… but wanted to say that human uteruses indeed have “horns.” The superior and lateral parts of the uterus taper into the oviducts (Fallopian tubes, to use the dead-white-guy eponym). These areas are called the cornua, Latin for horns.
Kind regards to you always, kcd, #WordNerd :)
Robin Eichert says
Dave, I finally got around to watching this TED talk this morning (I saved your message knowing it would be of interest to me!). Thank you so much for sharing it. It was fascinating and inspiring to hear of this physician’s desire and appreciation to collaborate and learn from animals and their doctors. How wonderful that your wife, Ginny, is a vet! You two must have had already had countless conversations comparing the health systems of people and animals. Animals can teach us many things and I so loved learning about this connection. Thanks again.
e-Patient Dave says
Yes, ahem, we’ve had countless conversations about that. :)