Please don’t replace my Veterinary Degree with Dr Google

This month I thought I would play Devil’s advocate…… I have lost count of the number of times my clients come into the consulting room and say “I’ve googled it and I think Fluffy has ……….”

Having qualified in the year of the original iPhone 3G (2010), before ‘Love Island’ would take over the summer or before having multiple apps in your pocket I have seen the development of more clients turning to “Dr Google” before bringing in their pets to see their vet.

When I first noticed clients telling me what they had diagnosed their pets with I would immediately become defensive and try to explain why my diagnosis was far superior to “Dr Google’s” in a way justifying my knowledge and why they had come to see me. There were many chats around the coffee room of “I don’t know why they even bothered to come and see me if they already knew what it was”. Let’s be honest who hasn’t googled a symptom they have had and taken that bit of information to the doctors? I am definitely guilty of this.

“Dr Google” provides so much information at our fingertips that I now feel we have to embrace this. When clients come in they now are a lot more willing to admit they have “googled” it or want to write down the long medical terms so they can go and “google” it. I now no longer mind if clients bring up “Dr Google” I think it is important to discuss what they have found and researched. Often Dr Google gives too much information that clients become over whelmed and often say “I wish I hadn’t looked it up I have scared myself”. That is the key I thought, as vets we are there to guide our clients to the right sources of information, ones that we trust and have scientific evidence behind. We are there for support of our clients to ensure they don’t become scared by “Dr Google” when owners google skin lumps, when actually it turns out to be a tick attached to the shoulder of their dog!

I think we need to work with “Dr Google” and not against him/her to be able to engage with clients, provide that bond and trusting relationship that they can tell us they should have come in a few weeks before but had “googled” it and it was fine. I think the most important priority in all of this is the patient! Ensuring that no matter what that owners allow vets to use their veterinary degree and trust that although “Dr Google” may have the answer to “why does my cat eat grass” there is no replacement for the human mind, knowledge and experience.

So to any vets reading this please embrace “Dr Google” don’t fight him/her, to all the pet owners reading this remember your vet can diagnose and treat your pet with experience, kindness and sympathy which is a service more than “Dr Google” can provide.

                                                                                               Article by Aimee Barker