Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another reality

Like my esteemed colleague, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I wrote an essay on the subject in first grade! I think my mom still has it, actually. Although I ended up as a companion animal doctor rather than a doctor for elephants and horses and rabbits as originally planned, I pretty much never deviated from the plan. I'm a person who makes a decision and sticks with it, pretty much. I've never been accused of waffling. Maybe I should run for president? Ha ha.

Anyhoo, I was lucky. I didn't accrue any debt during my undergraduate years, partly because of my parents' generosity and partly because I attended a cheap-ass school. I got a job before going to vet school, and unlike my esteemed colleague I kept it for the first two years of school before really NEEDING to quit (I was able to work overnights. I don't remember sleeping much really! And no, I was not using performance-enhancing drugs.) Still, I managed to accrue a sizable chunk of debt during vet school. But then - a kindly older relative found out, and paid it off for me. Who does that, right?

So, I don't have to worry about the debt. I love my profession: the animals, of course. The intellectual stimulation, the freedom to USE MY BRAIN and my clinical exam and decision-making skills - a lot of my physician friends complain that there are so many insurance-related constraints they feel like they are stuck doing cookbook medicine all the time. It's true that there's a downside or twenty, but, even with all the negative aspects I feel like veterinary medicine is a truly rewarding profession. It's just not financially rewarding, these days, especially if you start out with a crushing debt load. Intellectually and spiritually rewarding - yes. Absolutely. At least until the client with the Lexus and the 20-karat bling shows up with the $2500 designer mutt and declines every damn recommendation because it's too expensive.

I remember being shocked when some of the vets I talked to before vet school did NOT recommend the profession due to the lack of compensation. I thought we should be "above" that. I understand better now but I have to say I am just really glad I did it anyway. I wouldn't want to have to make my living at it, though.

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