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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bored In Veterinary Medicine?

Here's a question from Genesis..........

Hi, my name is Genesis, I'm currently studying biology and have been interested in veterinary medicine since I started my bachelor. The problem is, I'm very concerned about the debts, about the fact of me getting tired of the job and the probabilities of finding a job once I finish vet school. This is why I've been thinking about going into med school or the possibility of finishing vet school, and then specializing in surgery.
I actually don't see myself working all day with people doing the same thing over and over again. I love to do different things and to have a change once in a while, but I'm not sure if Veterinary medicine is the same.

Let me start with the first concerns.  Debt load is a huge concern for newly graduated vets.  In fact, many people (myself included) would consider this at crisis levels and the single biggest concern in the profession right now.  So anyone wanting to enter the field needs to do some serious financial planning before ever entering vet school.  I posted recently that while veterinary job prospects may have been slightly lower recently, overall it's very possible to get a job.  While it make take more effort than when I graduated, as a whole it's a profession with extremely low unemployment.  Do a search of my blog and you'll find several posts on these subjects.

Now let's tackle the bigger concern....boredom.

In any job you'll reach a point where you'll see numerous routine cases.  Human doctors see the same problems in patients again and again, and give the same advice over and over.  If you look at general practice veterinary medicine it may superficially seem like just about all you're doing is vaccines, spays and neuters, and skin problems.  Even veterinary surgeons tend to do a lot of the same procedures, with routine things like ACL and broken bone repair happening more often than you may think.  So the first thing I'd recommend is to realize that no matter what job you have there will periods where you do repetitive work and tasks that you do daily.  

Correct me if I'm wrong but I would suspect that you haven't spent a lot of time in a veterinary practice.  Yes, we do a lot of basic preventative care every day.  Yes, there are some disorders that we see almost every day (ear infections, diarrhea, itchy skin all jump to my mind first).  And yes, we're continually giving the same kinds of advice to people daily.  But I would never say that the job is boring.  

Every day brings surprises.  Often I'll expect one thing in a room and end up finding something different.  Just a couple of weeks ago I had to cancel my afternoon appointments so I could do an emergency c-section on a cat.  I commonly have to make challenging diagnoses, some that really test my knowledge.  Even routine cases will have variety.  Not every ear infection is exactly the same, and can vary in the infectious organisms, degree of infection, secondary changes, and so on.  Also, each day is far from the same.  Some days will be virtually nothing but sick or injured pets, leaving me wishing for a simple preventative care case.  Sometimes we'll get a run of a particular case; recently one of my associate doctors kept diagnosing pancreatitis, making her almost develop a complex about the next vomiting dog.We do see some cases commonly,  but the mixture of cases is different every day.

Genesis, I'd first ask why you think being a general practitioner is boring, and how you would specifically define "doing the same thing over and over again".  Knowing the specifics of your fear of boredom might help determine if this is a realistic apprehension.  If you're looking for a job with absolutely no repetition or routine, you won't find that in any sort of medicine.  If you haven't spend a lot of time in or around veterinary medicine I'd strongly recommend getting a job in a practice, even a part-time one.  That may change your impression about what we do.

Because the job certainly isn't boring.