Phronesis in Veterinary Medicine and How It Impacts Mental Health

Phronesis in Veterinary Medicine and How It Impacts Mental Health

Phronesis, which is the process of making choices in ethical dilemmas using ethics and a full understanding of facts, has a major role to play in veterinary medicine. Veterinary professionals have an obligation to promote the welfare of animals and to maintain a high standard of care that adheres to ethics and legal standards. Phronesis is a valuable tool when considering any situation, as it allows veterinarians to interact thoughtfully with owners and recognize their concerns while also advocating for the animal’s wellbeing. For example, when presented with an injury or illness that is difficult to diagnose, phronesis can be used by veterinary teams to develop reasoned solutions within the scope of ethics. Clearly understanding all factors related to the case can help make an appropriate determination that meets both veterinary ethical obligations and demonstrates compassionate care.

VIN recently came out with an article entitled:

Phronesis in Veterinary Medicine: Navigating the Complexity of Practice with Wisdom.

This caught my attention as I’d never heard the word “Phornesis” before and the article abstract struck a chord in me. It concisely illustrates an idea I’ve had for a very long time that this intersection of “Standard of Care” and “Clinical Judgment” where ethical principles are used to direct decision making is exactly where so much stress comes from in daily practice. I suspect that this is true for many of you. I’ve often felt that my education taught me what I could do and neglected the limitations in the clinical setting placed by the owner’s circumstances be they financial, emotional, spiritual, physical or other.

The first step in solving a problem is to name it.

This article gives me hope that this very important topic is being considered by our educational systems. However, I’m impatient with that advance and would like to see some CE on this topic. In particular, I’d like to see some acknowledgement that this is a major stressor in our field and could very well be a big factor in burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal tendancies in our colleagues. If there is a general agreement in our profession that this is a major pressure point, I feel that a push towards development of CE content is warranted.

What do you think? Drop us a message and share your thoughts!

Posted: May 15th, 2023