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Friday, March 11, 2011

Finding Motivation

This might be a shocker to those outside of the veterinary field.  Sometimes vets simply don't want to go to work or don't want to see cases while they are there.  Yes, I know we're supposed to love our job and according to surveys most vets do.  But we're only human and no matter how much someone loves their job there are some days when you're just simply lacking motivation to perform.

This isn't a good situation in any job.  A factory worker needs to be able to perform up to standards or they could be injured or produced shoddy materials.  A cashier may not have many responsibilities, but they should still be careful about what they ring up and what kind of attitude they have.  When a doctor is unmotivated it's a bit trickier, because they are responsible for the lives and health of their patients.  If they simply don't feel like doing their job it can directly impact lives.

There are various reasons why someone might lack motivation in their job, and I think most reasons apply to any profession.  They may not like their job, or at least not like their location and co-workers.  They might be very tired and burned-out and therefore find it hard to motivate themselves.  Or they might simply be having a lazy day and not feel like doing much (and you know we've all had those days!).  A big problem with veterinarians is that it is easy to get burned out because we work so many hours and days and have a lot of emotional stress due to some of the cases.

So what do you do when you're a vet and you have to deal with normal clients, sick pets, surgery, and a full day's schedule, but you don't really want to?  Like in any job you persevere and simply get to it.  I find that rather than thinking about the entire day or the numerous drop-offs waiting for my attention, it's easier to just look at one case at a time, focusing on that before moving on to the next one.  You might take more frequent bathroom breaks to have a bit of quite time.  You also rely on your staff, letting them help direct your day, joke around with them, and maybe even playfully complain to and with them (I've had days when about 10 minutes after I arrive in the morning I ask the staff "Is it time to go home yet?" and then keep a running tally of how long until closing).  If you really are burned out, then you need to make time for a vacation, even if it's staying home for a few days and sleeping late.

With as much stress as we have, there is no way for a veterinarian to be 100% motivated every single day, yet we can't let the quality of our medicine falter.  So as an aid among friends and colleagues, I'd love to hear what others do to maintain motivation in their jobs on those days when they don't have it.  By sharing with each other we can help one another, and help prepare students for the times ahead of them.


  1. When I find myself unmotivated at work I spend time thinking about the things I enjoy, that my salary pays for, and imagine myself doing those things. I'll admit to taking a 'mental health' day now and again. However, I have the luxury of being able to do that without my work falling on the shoulders of my colleagues.

  2. When I realized I had more days where I wasn't motivated than days when I wanted to go to work, I knew I had to make a change. I'm applying right now for jobs in an entirely different field of veterinary medicine. I can't wait to feel passionate about my job again.

  3. "A cashier may not have many responsibilities, but..." That statement, within the paragraph's context, sounded a bit patronizing. You'd really be surprised by what a job seems like and how it actually is when you're doing it, wouldn't you agree? Not all cashiers, or blue collar workers for that matter, are the same.

  4. Been there done that. Anon is right-sometimes you just need a new job/environment.

  5. I am a high school student aspiring to become a veterinarian. I'm in the process of looking at colleges and figuring out which undergraduate programs will give me the best chances of getting into a good vet school (which I know is very competitive). I was wondering what advice you might have about what's important to consider in the whole college-search process in order to reach my goal of ultimately getting a DVM.

  6. I gotta agree with vetvoyer. I am the "restless get tired of my career" type and I have had several different careers, from pastry chef to business owner to international civil servant (I now work for the UN) I have made career changes to enhance my life and emotional well being and in the end every career can become boring. I find having projects and hobbies I can be passionate about do tend to flow over to the other areas of my life ( like work) and that seems to be the best tool I have found so far in not feeling stagnated or stuck,


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