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Friday, May 20, 2011

Not Just A Vet

I think that when many people see their doctor, veterinarian, or other professional, they can easily forget that being in such a career doesn't completely define a person.  To me being a vet is what I do, not who I am.  I have a great job and am good at it, but it's what I do to allow me to spend time with my family and in other pursuits.  I consider myself "Chris" first and "Dr. Bern" second.

However, it can be difficult for many vets to realize this themselves.  I've struggled with work-life balance for years, and now after 14 years in practice I think I'm starting to get a small handle on the issue.  My associate doesn't seem to have mastered this yet, and she's been practicing longer than I have.  I'm struggling with her being willing to take time off, take a vacation, or even go home early when we're slow and both of us are there.  I've had days when we only have a couple of appointments and I offer for her to go home and I'll cover the rest of the day, yet most of the time she'll hang around.

This is actually a difficult topic for vets (and I'm sure other doctors) to handle.  We spend so much blood, sweat, tears, effort, money, and time getting our education and training, and then we have to work really hard to make ends meet and pay off our debts.  With that much invested, it's hard for us to turn away and realize that we not only deserve, but NEED to have time away from work to relax, have fun, and connect with our families.  If we do nothing but work and stay "on duty" even in our minds, we'll burn out quickly and then be good to nobody.

So I encourage any vets to work on this balance, and any students to realize this when you graduate.  It IS okay to have a life outside work and enjoy it!