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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Questions From A Prospective Vet Student, Part 3

Here are the last set of Jasmine's questions.

If I was able to become a practicing vet, I would like to own my own private practice. Would you be able to give me a general idea as to what that would be like and what are the odds of really being able to "be my own boss" and direct my own clinic? 

Owning your veterinary practice is a lot of very hard work, and you don't get any training in this as a veterinary student.  You will need to secure business loans of around $300,000-500,000 (US) or more for even a small practice. Having strong business skills and training is important to being a business owner, as many private practices go bankrupt because the owner isn't a good businessperson.  You will spend a large portion of your day and week managing aspects of the business and not being a doctor, and this may not be enjoyable for you. Another downside is that veterinary practices are no longer a good retirement plan, as many older vets are finding it very difficult to sell their practice and retire.

All of that being said, being a practice owner can be satisfying.  Doing so gives you the best opportunity to make a high salary (though it requires good business skills), and certainly more than an associate vet.  You can also have the freedom to pick your methods of practice, products, medications, designs and so on.  All aspects of it are completely in your control.  And odds of starting a practice are good if you have good credit.  Odds of maintaining profitability and staying open are another story.

Also, was your ability to handle the bloody and gory aspects of surgery acquired over time or were you already able to stomach that sort of thing? I'm not too squirmish about the sight of blood, but a few of the pictures in your blog were a little disturbing (like the protruding eye on the poor pup that ended up needing to be removed)... 

I actually used to have a weak stomach before I started working for a veterinarian.  When I first started seeing surgery and blood, I passed out a couple of times.  But I knew that I wanted to be a vet and would have to get over it.  So I just stuck with it and eventually I started being able to handle it.  This tolerance didn't happen overnight, and it took a few years to really get used to it. Some people never develop that ability, and it's pretty important for a vet.  You have to be able to handle blood, pus, maggots crawling through skin, broken bones poking through flesh, ruptured eyes, draining abscesses, and many other disgusting things.  The variety of gross sights is one of the reasons why you should work for a veterinarian before considering a career in the field. If you find that you can't handle seeing these things or handle dealing with a pet in pain, then this isn't the right career choice for ou.

Jasmine, thanks for all of the questions!

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