When I talk to veterinary students about pet health insurance, it’s often an abstract concept for them. But for Colleen Link, her own personal experience has already shaped her opinion of the value pet health insurance provides. I have no doubt she’ll be one of those clinicians recommending it to her clients. She’s a believer!
A third-year student at the Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colleen adopted a boxer, Rue, from a rescue group. As a part of the initial wellness exam, she told me, she was encouraged by her veterinarian to take out a policy, which she did. Months later, the dog was diagnosed renal dysplasia. Thanks to insurance, Colleen was able to get Rue the care she needed.
“Rue would have cost me $4,000 [for initial diagnostics and treatments], and in the time since then the total has reached close to $18,000,” she said. “Obviously as a veterinary student I would not be able to afford this kind of expense out of pocket, but because I have insurance Rue has been able to receive the care she needs and outlive the mean survival time by 18 months so far and is doing great. I know that this will be a problem the rest of Rue’s life, but I rest easy knowing money is not going to be a factor in my decision-making about her care.”
The voice of experience, and I am sure she’ll be sharing it her entire professional career. I felt her story needed to be told, and that she would make a good candidate for our ongoing “Three Questions for …” series.
What drew you to veterinary medicine?
As a child I was shy and found great companionship with the animals in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with animals. They played a crucial role in my life. I had always dreamed of being a veterinarian, but once I realized the power of the human-animal bond I developed a passion for veterinary medicine. My experience with Rue furthered that passion. I intend to preserve the human-animal bond by being a resource for high-quality veterinary care.
The most notable change is internet’s effect on the profession. It is not uncommon for people to come in with a large amount of information, some of it valid, some not. The increase in availability of information available to anyone can result in a decreased perception of the value of veterinary care.
I think we need to be going back to the basics of a good physical exam and communication to demonstrate our value as medical professionals.
While many veterinarians practice good medicine, clients have no real way to evaluate the quality of medicine other than what they understand. Communication is key in helping people understand the value of the care their animals receive.
People have access to a lot of information through the internet, but what the internet does not provide is sound clinical reasoning. That is what veterinarians provide, and I hope that my clients eventually see veterinarians as the best source of information for their pet’s care.
Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise your future veterinary colleagues?
I love theater, especially musical theater. There is nothing like the sound of live music and the fantasy of a theatrical production. I try to see at least one live production each year.
Thanks Colleen! Here’s hoping Rue stays healthy for a long time to come!