After being in academics for almost 10 years, and then in a private referral practice setting, the most important and scariest decision I made was to move closer to family and start my own concierge practice. It was a huge risk, but it has paid off with a better quality of life, more family time, a personal support structure and financial benefits as well. It was very nerve-racking, and I couldn't have done it without my husband's support. But I'm so glad we took the risk. Here's what I've learned from the experience.
1. Schedule your personal time
I am a very organized Type A person. I find I often have a problem saying "no" to people. So to keep my life from being overscheduled and too stressful, I literally schedule myself personal time. I put it in my regular appointment schedule right by my patients. It's blocked off, "me" time.
2. Find your support
My husband is the rock of our family. He does most of the house work, takes care of the kids and knows when to manage me as well. He's called my friends to come kidnap me for some R&R without telling me. He's a traditional Southern man and I adore him.
Female board-certified surgeons are surprisingly in the minority in our female-dominated profession. I was blessed to meet two very different ones during vet school. Dr. Gretchen Flo is an amazing force-to-be-reckoned-with. She created the gold standard approach to cranial cruciate disease in small dogs at a time when very few women were even in vet school. The other surgeon was a softer, quieter, younger female with a family. I decided then I would model my career somewhere in between the two.
The third most important person I've ever met is my best friend Sara. We met when we were 2 and are still friends who go to the same church. We've fought over the years, cried, grown, evolved and triumphed. We're celebrating our 40th birthdays together this year!
3. Don't hate: delegate
I don't scrub the toilet. I've decided my time and sanity is worth paying someone to do the stuff I hate doing. Whether it's hiring an additional technician to help with paperwork, inventory and ordering—which I did—or my cleaning lady, it's totally worth it. Give up the stuff you hate doing.
4. Never, ever, ever give up
Every few years I pull out a giant afghan I've been crocheting from wool yarn I brought back from studying abroad in Australia. I've been working on this project for almost 20 years.
This is currently a tie for me. My kids are 4 and 6. They are very strong-willed, determined and verbose. (Yes, they get this from me.) However, my HUSBAND's dog is a 1-year-old bloodhound that is all nose. You've never seen an entire dinner get scarfed so fast as a bloodhound pup loose in the kitchen.