At work today a tech was asking if I missed not working on large animals. And no, I don't. I hate cows, pigs are terrible patients, horses (although I like them) can be dangerous and get sick at odd hours of the night. Small ruminants are ok but there is not much market for that. And then I got to thinking, I don't necessarily love small animal practice. There are a lot of frustrations with this job. The quality of medicine you practice will always be dictated by how much money the owners are willing and able to spend. If you are an associate the quality of care is also dictated by the facility, equipment and support staff your employer provides. If you own a clinic then there is a whole new set of issues to deal with. And quite frequently working with the public is enough to make you want to bash your head against a wall. And just think-I paid a significant amount of tuition money for this "honor." I pay the equivalent of a nice car payment on my student loan every month, and will continue to do so for the next 4-5 years. And I owed less than average.
If I was to choose a different path in vet med I would specialize in clinical pathology. It would have been ideal to have pursued a residency right after vet school but the thought of 4-5 more years of "school" made me ill and I really thought I wanted to go into private practice. There is actually nothing stopping me from pursuing this now but it would involve giving up my life, moving, taking a temporary pay cut, and then moving again to find a job. Not interested.
I've recently been made aware that pharmacists make good money and work better hours than most vets. While pharmacology is a challenging subject it is interesting and not one I would necessarily count out as a career choice.
I always said I would never go to medical school because people are "icky," but while watching my favorite crime-drama, it occurred to me that being a medical examiner would be pretty cool. Granted I would actually have to complete med school and a residency but once in the real world I couldn't accidentally kill anyone and I could help solve mysteries. Sounds pretty win-win don't you think?
If I were to go outside the medical field altogether I would pursue a career in graphic art. I love photography, drawing, painting, photoshop, being creative and designing handouts, brochures, websites, etc. Working at a desk surely has advantages to to working with people, aggressive dogs and fractious casts.
But don't get me wrong, private practice veterinary medicine is not a bad career choice, I don't hate it, and I'm not quitting. I'm just not convinced it's my "dream job." Maybe someday I will find or create the perfect practice. Either way, there are number of significant benefits to being a vet and a lot of days I do enjoy it. It is a well-respected career, kids think it's cool, friends and family members think it's convenient. I get to see more puppies and kittens in my day than the average person. Despite what it seems like there are a significant number of people who take care of their pets, follow your recommendations and thank you for your help. Some days you get to save a life. The financial benefits to being able to care for my own pets are huge. But more than that, actually being my own pets doctor might be the biggest benefit to me. I have the advantage of a knowledge base that allows me to make sure they are getting the best care. I can make sure I choose what I want for them in both wellness and preventive care as well as illness and injury. I'm better prepared to make important and emotional decisions for them. I don't have to trust that my vet is always giving me all my options, offering appropriate referrals, practicing the most up to date medicine, following modern surgical protocol and taking adequate care of my hospitalized pet.
So, the big question I get asked is would I do it all over again? I guess the good news is that as long as time travel is not a reality I don't have to make that decision. The bad news is that I would, in fact, have to make a decision. (That's just a fancy way of saying I don't really know and I don't want to think about it :)
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