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shutterstock_1478187425.jpgEven before the global pandemic, the field of veterinary medicine was full of daily pitfalls and long-term challenges. The last two years have brought about a multitude of changes in how veterinarians operate their business and what is demanded of them by their customers. Some challenges are new, and some have merely been accelerated. 

Trials Facing Veterinarians

As they look to establish their practice or stay current and competitive in their field, veterinarians must balance new and existing obstacles. Here are some of the top challenges facing veterinarians and veterinary practices. 

Staff attrition and burnout - It can be difficult to keep a veterinary practice running without highly trained and dedicated staff. Working with animals every day can be a physically demanding and emotionally draining job. Every level of staff deals must provide customer service and care to individuals who often have deep emotional ties to their pets. This can be especially true for pet owners who have developed even closer bonds with their pets coming out of the pandemic. There continues to be a high turnover rate for licensed veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and staff at veterinary practices. 

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shutterstock_200278673.jpgMany women choose to use midwives during the birth of their children. However, until recently, Illinois did not provide separate licensing for midwives. Currently, only registered nurses who underwent additional training and met certain requirements have been recognized as nurse-midwives in the state. Under legislation signed by Governor Pritzker in February, midwives without nursing degrees will be able to gain licensing. The new law will take effect on October 1, 2022.

Illinois Midwife Licensing Basics

After October, licensed midwives will have the right to provide care for women before, during, and after deliveries outside of a hospital setting as long as the pregnancies and deliveries are deemed low-risk. They will also be able to provide women with other forms of medical care, including well-woman care, care and supervision during pregnancy, performing pap smears, and screening for STDs.

In order to provide this prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care, midwives will need to meet qualification standards, education, and training. They may also be subject to disciplinary steps and malpractice claims.

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shutterstock_1701457318-1.jpgThe opioid epidemic in the United States has become a "hot button" issue not only with federal prosecutors but among families at the dinner table. Nearly half a million people have died of opioid-related overdose in the last 20 years. The opioid crisis has touched many people personally, whether it is a family member’s struggle with addiction or their own. Highly relevant in the conversation of opioids is the duty of care of physicians when prescribing and the numerous cases of abuse of that duty through the operation of so-called ‘pill mills.’

Two pending cases in the Supreme Court of the United States brought by two physicians previous convicted of overprescribing opioids, (Kahn v. United States and Ruan v. United States) ask the court to contemplate whether a uniform criminal standard should be applied to physicians in opioid cases that permits a ‘good faith’ defense for accused physicians. Currently, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 holds that doctors cannot prescribe opioids and other controlled substances unless there is a prescription for a legitimate medical purpose as determined by a physician acting in the usual course of his professional practice.

The phrase ‘legitimate medical purpose’ has given rise to different interpretations by federal appellate courts. Some federal appellate courts hold that physicians can be convicted for prescribing opioids regardless of the ‘legitimate medical purpose’ so long as the prescriptions were uncommon or not permitted by standards of accepted medical practice.

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shutterstock_1518039839.jpgWhenever one hears the terms “mortician,” or “funeral director,” the image our mind conjures is that of a black-clad male figure. However, since 2017, there has been a marked increase in women taking up the mantle and changing the industry.

Historically, caring for the deceased and preparing their bodies was considered women’s work. Going as far back as Ancient Greece or even the Civil War, women conducted the death rites, primarily in the home. Shrouding women or midwives would cleanse the body and prepare it for burial. Women were seen as more intuitive and emotionally sensitive to the bereaved’s needs, making them a more natural fit for the role. It was only when funerals and embalming became a career in the late 19th century that women were forced back into traditional domestic roles.

In a business that has historically been slow to embrace change, the wave of women working in funeral homes is changing the stereotype of the man in the somber black suit. They have often had to fight social stigmas and old-fashioned mentalities: women can’t lift coffins, women shouldn’t be exposed to embalming chemical while pregnant, etc. Despite the prejudice, women have continued to enter deathcare, especially as the industry itself is currently shifting the way it approaches funerals.

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shutterstock_171030227.jpg“We’re in the middle of a battle, and we need reinforcements,” the Governor said in his call to action. “Come back and join the fight.”

Illinois was among those states counting on retired (or even soon-to-be retired) medical personnel to stave the onslaught of COVID-19 cases in hospitals and to administer much needed vaccines. In early 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker slashed through the bureaucratic red tape by waiving state licensing fees, expediting license renewals and extending soon-to-be-expired licenses for healthcare professionals.

(Active license reinstatement waivers are scheduled to expire May 31, 2022, per the 12/20/21 IDFPR Proclamation.)

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