Being a vet isn’t all doom and gloom
|December 7, 2022||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I spend a lot of time telling people here and in real life why they should not be a vet. But…. I felt like was time to balance the scales a bit. The post I’ve been trying to write (for weeks!) is how awesome it is to be a vet.
BEING A VET IS AWESOME!!!!!
The problem is that my brain does not want me to write that post.
Here are the things it suggests I write about instead.
- Complications! They are killer…sometimes literally (heh heh heh)
- My constant companion is pain. (is that a violin I hear playing?)
- I am a bag of crumbs…that pretends to be a granola bar. But don’t let the packaging fool you. I. Am. Crumbs.
- Words I can’t spell. Even though I use them every day. (Abscess, dehiscence, and flurosceine…In case you were wondering. That last one I can’t get close enough for even auto correct)
- Superstitious – how I started and finished a doctorate with a deep belief in science, and after a mere few years in the profession I and now believe in the rule of threes, friday the 13th, full moons, and not using certain words during a shift.
But in a moment of triumph, I have prevailed!
….Uuuhhhh well actually I need to write medical records and it turns out my brain really doesn’t want to do that, and so has decided it will allow me to write this post.
Here are the reasons I came up with of “why I think being a vet is awesome.” and why I call the $24,000+ dollars I give the government in student loan money every year (and will continue to give for at least another 25 years) a “job satisfaction fee.” and it doesn’t upset me (that much).
I have so much flexibility
Bored with surgery? Let’s do some ER. Had it up to here with clients in GP? May I suggest shelter or government? I’ve switched gears three times in almost 8 years. With vetmed I can do anything. It’s the reason that I originally decided to get my doctorate in vet med instead of any other advanced degree and it has not disappointed. Can’t decide what you want to do? Want to do anything? Be veterinarian.
I’ve worked part time, full time, and “no way should you be working that many hours” time. I’ve been an employee and a contractor. I’ve worked for private practices, corporate, government and done a bit of business all on my own.
I’ve never felt trapped or pigeon-holed, and that is worth every penny I paid for this degree.
It pays for the things I want to do
Compared to other careers with similar educational requirements, veterinarians get paid shit.
Compared to my student loans, which are comparable to an MD, I get paid shit.
Compared to the loan forgiveness opportunities of the human med side of things where practically every health organization you work for is government or non-profit run, you as a vet are going to get screwed.
Compared to an MD, the government doesn’t care about your DVM and asks whether you have your phD, and offers you a government level vet job that makes less than if you just pretended you just had a bachelors degree.
EVEN WITH ALL THIS.
I make enough.
I make enough to not have to worry about paying my bills.
I make enough to donate to causes I care about.
I make enough that I can go to winco every single week and not have to total up the contents of my cart in my head.
I can buy THREE pairs of my favorite shorts, just because they might discontinue them and never produce them again after this summer.
I fund my retirement accounts every year, and put money into savings each month.
I know that not all vets find this to be true. I’m lucky in that I’m married to a partner with health insurance so I’ve chosen to give up stability and benefits for *my* jobs in return for higher pay as a contractor. Not everyone can do this. It took me about 5 years out of school to make more with my doctorate than I did with my bachelor’s, and it took me being willing to step out of my comfort zone and say yes to things that stretched me as a vet. I have less stability but more flexibility with my choices, and a higher pay rate. That’s not going to be the right decision for all veterinarians, but it’s available.
Not having money stress has made my mental health better, my marriage better, and being a parent better.
I don’t love having to budget $2K/month towards student loans, but I’d rather be a vet than have an extra $24k every year. (I think).
I do really cool things
Yesterday I fixed a dystocia on a dog that would have killed her *very soon* if I hadn’t, and very nearly killed her on my surgery table. He was homeless and the dog was all he had.
Last weekend I did 2 sections, a pyo, and a crazy FB that needed an enterotomy, a gastronomy, and a RnA.
I’ve spayed potbelly pigs for a shelter wanting to adopt them out as pets.
One minute I’m doing a crazy surgery that is the ultimate hail mary…the next I’m deciding a reasonable list of differential for a dog with elevated liver values. Then I’ll run to X-ray and look at a radiograph and decide whether to cut tonight for a potential foreign body (versus trying IV fluids overnight and reassess in the morning), and then say yes to a patient that needs a c-section. I’m part surgeon, part internist, part pharmacist, and part anesthesiologist. I’m brought animals who can’t talk and who are doing the darnest to convince me that nothing is wrong, and trying to decide which tests or treatments are the right ones, usually on a budget that doesn’t allow for a re-do.
Medicine never gets boring. I wish that it wasn’t quite as humbling. The top of the world rockstar feeling is awesome…the “Why did THAT case go south when I did EVERYTHING right?????? feeling is not as good. Even worse is the “how did I miss that” awful sinking feeling when something goes wrong and you can point to an error that contributed.
I see miracles and sometimes I get to nudge those miracles into existence. But, I also see a lot of cases go badly despite everyone’s best efforts, and that sucks. I’m regularly chastised by friends for painting a scene of doom and gloom when they bring me a difficult case. “You are always so negative!” Yeah. Well. I guess we can all pretend I never have to call anyone and say the words “unfortunately there has been an unanticipated complication….” We should definitely pretend that doesn’t happen because this is a post where I’m trying to convince you that being a vet doesn’t suck.
I make a difference
I do thousands of surgeries a year, see hundreds of pets per month in emergency visits, and have made the difference in countless people’s lives because of my choice to be there when they needed me at a vet clinic.
I’ve had clients track me down on social media (I’m not that hard to find) and thank me for doing surgeries or getting them the right medications in the middle of the night.
I can’t save everyone and it’s not all pretty words and happy clients, but I never go home without making a difference. That’s pretty cool. It matters that I show up and do my job every shift.