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Veterinary Realities and Problems with The Starling Movie

If you're asking yourself, "Should I watch The Starling movie?" ... Here's my answer, some context, and a suggestion of what else to watch too. I'm a big fan of Melissa McCarthy. She deserves all credit and praise for so many incredible performances in movies, including a scene in Thunder Force where she references Jodie Foster in ways that made me laugh, laugh, laugh. So, I watched her new movie The Starling, available on Netflix with interest, even though, I knew it wasn't going to be wildly ha-ha funny. It turns out that the incomparable Kevin Kline plays a veterinarian in The Starling, which would be great except for the context of that character at this specific time in the history of veterinary medicine. 

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You should know that The Starling deals with death and grief and mental health / suicide, so it's not an easy movie to watch -- even though it's listed as a comedy. Funny parts? Yes. Sad parts? Yep, those too. Good narrative arc and resolution? Yes, to all that.

And, yet, knowing what I know about the suicide crisis in the veterinary profession, I felt gutted by the added pressure of seeing a veterinary character in a major movie seen as being an appropriate conduit for mental health in people. Yes, this character comes from a human mental health background, but most veterinarians don't. Yet, they find themselves dealing with EVERYONE'S emotions -- often to the detriment to their own wellbeing. 

So, especially at this point in veterinary history, with scads of people fleeing the profession in droves due to added demands and pressures caused by the pandemic and far more clients getting fired for being unreasonably awful, the timing of this particular character, this particular portrayal, feels all shades of wrong to me. 

Should I Watch The Starling Movie?

Absolutely, watch it (even if some of the bird parts feel unrealistic). 

However, you should also watch this 5-minute trailer for a documentary about veterinary suicide so that you understand the reality because the amazing people who work in veterinary medicine deserve our help -- or at the very least for us not to pile on more expectations that make things worse for them. 

The trailer includes reference to the death by suicide of Dr. Sophia Yin, who I admired and respected beyond measure. So many, including me, still reel at our collective loss of such a thought leader -- a luminary, as the trailer says. 

What you can do to help...

  • Be nice (or at least not awful) and be patient with veterinary teams.
  • Show gratitude with your words, thank-you cards, delivery of snacks or food gift certificates.
  • Keep your pets safe so that urgent / emergency appointments remain open for people who really need them. 

Any other ideas of ways to support the profession? Add to the list with your comment below. 

Canine news updates from here...

Clover is having minor surgery to remove a small lump on her right front leg Friday, Oct 8, 2021. I'll share updates as news warrants. She also somehow got a big gash on her face yesterday. No idea how it happened. So, our DVM will check that too. 

Mr. Stix sees his veterinary dermatologist again October 18. After 7 weeks back on cyclosporine (just 25 mg), we bumped him up to 50 mg because his skin is still not 100% healed. We hope not to need the 75 mg dose that caused him trouble earlier. This has been such a long road, but we're hopeful it will finally heal most of the way. 

Tori is recovering from a weird (yeast) ear infection that she developed last week out of nowhere. Our DVM found a grass seed in Tori's ear, but she felt like that was NOT the cause of the infection, so she put some meds right in the ear for us, and things should be good in 7-10 days. It looks a lot better already. 

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Annora Hensley - October 9, 2021

It sounds like you’ve had your hands full with “the kids” issues, but they’re doing better, I’m giving though to watching that movie, I understand what you’re saying as far as it looking as though more vets have issues than others.

Edith Chase - October 8, 2021

Sending healing thoughts for Clover, Mr. Twix and Tori.

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