A letter to the veterinarian who hates her job

A letter to the veterinarian who hates her job

A Fetch dvm360 attendee has a few things to say to her colleague who confessed that becoming a veterinarian was the worst decision she’d ever made.
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Mar 23, 2018

Fetch dvm360 speaker Sarah Wooten, DVM, leads several sessions about women in leadership. Dear Veterinarian who hates her job,

At the last Fetch dvm360 conference I went to, you were sitting next to me during a discussion about women in leadership. The topic at the moment was fair wages for veterinarians, and there was a heated debate going on—the older practice owners in the room didn’t feel they could afford to pay higher wages, and they were sick of hearing new grads complain about their student loans. As an older millennial, I belong to the younger generation that graduated six years ago with student loan debt worth as much as my house. But I am currently making a fair wage as a medical director, so I was very interested in the discussion.

The moderator was trying to calm down the situation when you spoke up. I was impressed that you chose to talk in such a large group, as you seemed a little shy while sitting next to me. You stated that you were one of the first female veterinarians in your state, and you own your practice. I was in awe sitting next to one of the pioneers in our industry—but then the next thing you said floored me.

“Becoming a veterinarian was the worst decision I’ve ever made,” you said. “I have struggled to make a living, am exhausted after 40 years of practice, and am underappreciated by my clients.” Wow! You just took all my worst nightmares and verbalized them.

I wanted to cry after you said that. Being a veterinarian is not my life—I’m a wife, mother, runner, hiker and much more—but being a veterinarian is an essential part of who I am. It’s a hard and often thankless job with long hours, employees who are difficult to manage, animals that sometimes want to eat you, cases that can’t be solved … but it’s also a great job. In one day I can educate a client about building a bond with their puppy, trim a macaw’s beak, take a spleen out of a cat that would otherwise die, help a family say goodbye to their beloved 15-year-old Lab, and deliver a litter of puppies. The magnitude of honor and pride I have from doing all those tasks is enormous.

I know your journey has likely been difficult—everyone’s is at some point. I’ve worked for less than I was worth, struggled to pay my bills, been called multiple names by angry clients. At the end of the day, though, I’m still proud of what I do. In the end I hope you can be proud as well.

I’m so happy I was sitting next to you that day; it allowed me to think about what I could say to you. And I want to thank you. Thank you for paving the way in this field for people like me. I also want to thank you on behalf of the numerous puppies and kittens you have saved with good vaccines and preventive healthcare. Thank you for all the lifesaving surgeries you have performed so those animals could go back to their families, thank you for helping countless families say goodbye to their furry friends with a dignified ending and, most of all, thank you for choosing this path. It has mattered to many people and animals—that I am sure of. So thank you from one veterinarian to another.

—Adriana Fisher, DVM, CVA

VCA Big Lake Animal Hospital

Wasilla, Alaska

older vet her hates her job

I'm her TOTAL opposite. Been a vet and practice owner for 40 years and it is an amazing profession. I have tons of comments, many controversial and need to go to work so will only say this is not a profession of balance and perfection. LIke the leaning in movement you can NOT do everything. Want to be a great vet..you need to attend conventions, do online classes, read read read stay updated..improve daily stay current smile try your best listen better realize you can't save every pet, every client or yourself..but you can try your hardest and be happy with that. Start a trend, stop whining. I worked hard to get women's rights only to have the jobs filled by women complaining about balance with kids and family..things guys never complained about right?..maybe they do now a days but that isn't why men left the field..It was because they weren't paid enough money for the long hours and we the caretakers the amazon women flocked to fill the void and are sooooo sad when we don't get into vet school then hate it after a while cuz we are underpaid and overworked. JEEZE so don't be a vet in the first place and give that spot to someone who is dying to be a vet for their life and be thrilled!!!!!. When I go to schools to rave about my AMAZING career choice..I tell kids it is NOT about puppies and kitties. It is death and sadness and clients expecting miracles and getting peed on and scratched, learning how to deal with money issues we are NOT taught about in vet school and go home happy because I did make someone incredibly happy and save a life. I live for the cards and puppy kisses and kitty purrs and I get TONS. I put up with the rest like kids and diapers, teenagers and attitude and men that oh you fill in the blank with what boyfriends and husbands or girlfriends don't do..
I am so happy with my job and will die in my boots. YEAH for being one of the "chosen" I walk into any event and get flocked by people who have questions for me, tell me how they, their kid etc always wanted to be a vet. Happened at a football game and a gorgeous former player for the 49ers came up to me and we eventually talked about his daughter wanting to become a vet. I should speak at conferences to reenergize the younger vets. BEST job ever....( I also ride horses, have kids and grandkids, organic garden, do swim lessons with the grandkids and own my own clinic, ,have a very organized kitchen that has as many toys as my clinic does )...I don't know what balance is I do what I need to do and do it well as possible the first time. I sew, paint, play piano..nothing with any great talent except maybe the grandma stuff, definitely the gardening and..... being a vet..