Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"She's a veterinarian"

I rarely tell people what I do for a living. Mostly, I don't have to. For whatever reason when someone introduces me to another person they almost always follow with "she's a veterinarian" -as if it's normal to automatically add a person's profession onto the end of their name. That would be ok if that actually were the normal thing to do but no one ever says "this is Jane, she's a bank teller/dentist/horse trainer/teacher/etc."

And I realize that it's an uncommon profession and I appreciate that many people find it an interesting and very respectable career but that does not mean that I want it to be the only thing of importance that anyone attaches to me or that I want to be forced to live and breathe veterinary medicine 24 hours a day and in every social setting I enter. You see, allowing someone to know that you are veterinarian invariably opens the door to one of the following 3 conversations:

1. "You know I always wanted to be a vet but didn't/couldn't because (fill in the reason here) and I heard it's harder to get into vet school than med school......and I just love animals...."

2. They feel the need to tell you about every pet they either had as a child and/or every pet they own now. I'm not sure if they just want to talk about their pet, they think I want to hear about it, or they don't know what else to say to me since I must not know about anything besides animals. And they are obviously unaware that I get paid to listen to people talk about their animals all day long.

3. They somehow find it appropriate to begin asking questions about their pets current medical or behavioral condition, which they are obviously concerned about but no so much that they want to pay their vet to actually examine the animal. And usually it's a complicated condition like allergies, feline urinary issues, chronic vomiting, weight loss-you know, stuff I can obviously answer easily and without seeing the pet.

And I don't mean to sound rude, I really don't mind when someone asks the occasional question or shows an intelligent (can't tell you how may questions I've been asked that start with "what's the grossest/weirdest..." for real people, it's not a circus act-just a job) interest in what I do but I also appreciate when they try not to "abuse their privileges" and realize I have a life outside of work and believe it or not I'm just a regular person when the white coat comes off!

And it's also pretty fun to hear what people will say to you or around you when they don't know what you do for a living. I've had quite a few people give me medical advice on my own pets over the years. I just tell them thanks and assure them my vet will take care of it :)


Josh and Jess said...

The last bit you wrote is real funny - people becoming vets in their own right, not realising that you are a professional one! :) :)

Josh and Jess

Painter Pack said...

My hooman brother is going to be a doggie doctor..!

Mya Boo Boo

manymuddypaws said...

funny how weird people are about that eh? I have a friend who's a vet, and she is also volunteers with our rescue- whenever she comes to the rescue events we have to brief our other volunteers to not refer to her as "the vet" we tell them she's a person. on her day off.

Sue said...

I always hate when having just been introduced to someone, they ask what I do. I feel if I don't give the right answer, doctor, lawyer, IRS agent, they won't want to talk to me. What difference does it make what I do or don't do?

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

You are so right - captured it perfectly... I train vet nurses in New Zealand, and I warn them to keep quiet about what they do too.. ruins a good social event when you feel people expect you to give out free advice!

Comet said...

Great post. I started vet school in August of last year and this type of human behavior has already began. Too make it worse, I've had facebook friends that I haven't talked to in years email me questions about pets. One person sent me a vet's report on her adopted horse who had some kind of leg issue and asked me what the results meant... during my first month of vet school. I don't even know where to begin. At least it wasn't as bad as the responses of my bf's family/friends in Lebanon last year. Every time I'd say that I was going to school to be a veterinarian, they'd say, ahhh, you're a vegetarian. It got to the point where I was just agreeing with them and didn't even bother to try to correct them.

Nicki said...

Hey-glad you liked it. I see you are going to vet school at Mizzou, great choice-I graduated from there in 2004. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!