Few things to think about before the 8 years of post-high school education:
1. You need to like puzzles.
I’m talking about complicated puzzles that will involve merging biology, math, personal experience, and common sense. Oh, my…it’s so exciting. It’s what keeps this job interesting, fresh, and ever-changing. You’ve got to be willing to roll up your sleeves and jump in to figure out the mystery. There will be failures and setbacks, but that moment when we figure out the puzzle is what it’s all about.
2. Gotta love people.
The relationship between me as the veterinarian and the owner is special. It is our privilege to play a role in their companion’s life. I cannot even communicate how magical that is. Being a veterinarian is not a road to avoid people. About 80% of my time is spent with the person attached to the animal. The owner is the most important part of the equation when dealing with a patient who cannot speak. That pet’s person understands him better than anyone else in the world. She’s the only one who can communicate what’s going on. As well, the person must make decisions in the best interest of their companion, and provide the treatments that come along with those decisions. Don’t despair if you’re an introvert. I am too. Introverts make the best listeners. You can learn how to communicate within your comfort zone. Extroverts…you got this.
3. There are gross moments.
The white wrinkle-free lab coat won’t stay clean as it does on TV. Anal sacs, abscesses, vomiting, diarrhea, maggots, urinary problems….there’s going to be stinky stuff coming at you that you did not imagine when you saw yourself hugging soft bunnies all day. And don’t forget the staff refrigerator where there’re leftovers from last week’s staff meeting and things in the back everyone is scared to touch.
4. You’re not in it for the money. But there is mobility and flexibility.
You’ll never get rich. You might barely pay off your school loans in thirty years. But you will be able to have a job anywhere you want. Need to follow your significant other’s job? No problem. Get burned out in fifteen years on private practice? No problem. The DVM (or VMD) degree gives you the flexibility to move into research, sales, government (CDC, APHIS/USDA, NIH), armed forces, or even teaching. There’s no other degree that gives you that much job security and flexibility. Awesome!!
Bottom line. There’s no job like this one. If you have a passion for animals and love science then this might be the right path for you.
We love what we do. It’s why we’re here.
Dr. Zoe Forward