Common Sense Health: Who Has the Most Dangerous Job?

We often advise readers not to be foolish – not with your health, money, relationships, or other vital aspects of life. Some risks are unavoidable, like crossing a busy intersection. Yet there’s little sense in choosing a career as a test pilot if you want to live to 100. Now, new research suggests we might have that wrong. Dangerous jobs with a high safety conscious may be the better bet!

What are some of the most dangerous jobs? Ambulance workers are near the top of the list. People working at skiing facilities and correctional institutions are in the top ten. So are couriers and people in water transportation jobs.

Leave it to personal injury lawyers to know the facts. What does one law firm say is the most dangerous profession? To our great surprise, veterinarians claim the title for the most dangerous job in North America! But how could Fido, who loves you more than you love yourself, and who would never betray you, be such a hazard?

We should have given it more thought. Fido has sharp teeth and a powerful jaw. Inserting a needle can unleash these weapons. Woe be the veterinarian working on larger, more unpredictable animals. A study by the US National Institutes of Health found that over half of veterinarians in a two-year period reported work-related injuries, with nearly eight percent requiring hospitalization. Animal-inflicted injuries are a risk of the job, but there is more trouble in the profession.

It is a sad fact that veterinarians, who give new life to animals in distress, are two and a half times more likely than the general public to die by suicide. The organization, Not One More Vet, reports that one in ten have contemplated suicide. In the U.K., a study found nearly 70% of vets have lost a colleague to suicide. In Australia, sixty percent of vets have sought professional help with their mental wellbeing.

What’s driving these horrendous statistics? The industry, it seems, has some issues. Vets can often work 12-hour shifts, frequently responding to emergencies at all hours and lacking the back-up support of other medical professions. Building a practice can involve years of low earnings. It’s physically demanding work, with long hours standing and restraining agitated animals. Even if the animals behave, human clients can be abusive, contributing to chronic stress on the job. Vets also risk exposure to waste anesthetic gases, radiation, and airborne contaminants. They see plenty of close-up work with infections.

There’s another cruel irony. It’s exhausting to get into the profession. Would-be vets need to be academic superstars and ruthless competitors in the high-stakes quest for a position in veterinary schools. If lucky enough to get in, they can count on spending a lot of money in tuition.

In California, a proposed bill would allow vets to initiate care for animals using telehealth. There are fierce debates about the merits of such an approach. But for the sick or injured dog who needs a consultation but would prefer death than a visit to the vet’s clinic, this might be a sensible solution. Plus, Fido won’t bite a computer monitor.

Will it lead to inappropriate treatments and medication for pets? Will it ease the burdens of driving animals to clinics for minor problems? This remains to be seen. But it sounds like good common sense to us.

Regarding career choices, what should we advise the people we love? Accountants take the prize for the job with the lowest risk of injury. Number crunching might not be sexy, but it is, apparently, safe.

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