Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oh, Cable Guy!

So, this isn't meant as a "poor me" post, or a husband bashing post, or anything other than a "take a minute and think about this" post. 
I'm a full-time small animal veterinarian. My husband works for a large cable company as an installer. We both work our butts off to be good at our jobs.  
I was paying bills the other day and realized: 
  • I spent 4 years in graduate school to be able to do what I do. My husband was on the job trained. 
  • I graduated with ~$115K in loans (all from grad school). My husband has none. 
  • I paid for my school. My husband's company paid him to attend school. 
  • I pay for my health insurance, have my own retirement plan since my clinic does not offer one, and get no money for continuing education, uniforms, dues for professional organizations, etc. My husband gets full medical, dental, vision, retirement plan, weekly paid training sessions, a work vehicle, and paid for uniform shirts. 
  • I work, on average, about 60-65 hours per week. If there are emergencies, I have a patient in hospital that needs care, or we are busy, it's significantly more than that. My husband works about 50 hours a week. 
  • I do not get any paid time off for sick days or vacation. He accrues paid time off every week, and is guaranteed sick days. 
So, all of this adds up to a significant difference in the bottom line, right?
Well, I suppose it does.....the past few months, he's made more than I do. 
In essence: with less training, less debt, fewer hours, better pay, and better benefits, it makes more sense for me to go work for a cable company than it does for me to a be a practicing doctor. Kinda makes me stop and think - next time I have a bright eyed young person look up at me and tell me they want to be a vet, too... It's sad.


  1. Whenever I hear someone express a desire to become a veterinarian, I cannot help myself but absolutely, positively, 100% recommend they consider a different career. Having totally burned out in private practice, I now have an event planning business, work part-time at Starbucks, and thank the heavens every single day that I have a husband with a well-paying job, so I can have health insurance and we can afford my horrific student loan payments.

  2. I tell a lot of people not to be a doctor. It's sad, but true, that it's come to this.

  3. And then you read some Internet troll writing that "greedy vets are just in it for the money". Talk about salt in the wound!

  4. Yeah I had ~40k in loans graduating in 2000 and I couldn't imagine life with tripple that. And when I hear the techs talk about going to carribean school where they will wind up with 200-300k in debt I assure them they will regret THAT choice. I am fortunate to have PTO and all professional expenses covered at my job but as I approach 40 the OTC health insurance for my wife and I is eating us up. Again if 100k indebtedness and declining starting pay are the norm for the future I may start a cute puppy and kitten print coffin business for all the young vets who are going to opt out pernanantly :( !!!!! I think my class was among the last for whom the numbers could be made workable without significant patental or third party contribution to the cost of vet-med-ed

    1. >>I think my class was among the last for whom the numbers could be made workable>>

      I graduated around when you did and agree completely.

      The veterinarians I know who are doing well seem to fall into three distinct groups:

      1. Graduated more than 20 years ago, usually a grad of an in-state school that was heavily subsidized with state taxes, at least back in the day (as we all know, state funding for veterinary schools has been cut drastically, especially over the last 10-15 years).

      2. Wealthy parents/family paid tuition to veterinary school, or at least a hefty chunk of it.

      3. Married well. Examples, all people I know: veterinarian married to human orthopedic surgeon; veterinarian married to human cardiologist; veterinarian married to owner of successful contractor/business owner; veterinarian married to attorney; veterinarian married to software developer; veterinarian married to dentist. That's just a few I'm thinking of as I sit here, pre- morning cup of coffee.

      Not sure if this should be its own category or just another reason veterinary medicine isn't your daddy's practice anymore, but I also know a few veterinarians - all male - whose wives are employed full-time in their practices as receptionist/tech/office manager. I don't know any female practice owners who are in this situation, which has many advantages, especially in a tough economy.

  5. You guys are making it very tough to continue studying for my exam tomorrow. That being said it is sad the way they treat us when we are applying for veterinary school and when we are in orientation before freshman year begins. It was nothing but AVMA and the state association and one old retired delegate after another parading up and down the stage telling us how great the profession is, how much the public loves and respects us, how we are achieving our dreams and how we will love our lives. I assure you that was the last time I heard that nonsense. We are now bombarded by the reality that is slowly setting in (more like hitting us like a freight train). Everyone is terrified by the lack of job prospects, and at the same time we have invested so much of our lives, time, money, energy, and emotional well being it is too late to turn back now. This is something most of us have wanted to do our whole lives. I (WE) couldn't be more frustrated with the AVMA, or whoever approves and accredits schools for their decision to give certain offshore schools accreditation. And now they are talking about building 4 more schools inside the country? It makes me sick to my stomach to think how much I am investing with the possibility of little return. I am now close to the end of my second year. I am tired, exhausted, beaten down, and all my classmates pretty much feel the same way. My fiancee whom I live with tells me she misses me. This isn't what I had in mind, but this is still what I want. Still, I wish more people would have been honest to begin with. I never got into veterinary medicine to play with puppies. I want to be a veterinarian because I love animals and I love medicine. I love helping people and animals, and the best way to do that, I believe, is by being a veterinarian. I hope for my generations sake that things turn around. It looks dim and bleak now, but maybe it will get better... or maybe I am just exhausted from 5 exams and a first surgery inside of a 2 week period

  6. The sad thing is, more people are will to pay for cable than for someone to take care of their animals.

  7. You guys are terrifying me that my vet will suddenly up and disappear one day and then I will be a sad panda with no established vet relationship anymore. Sure hope she's not in these dire straits, especially since we're getting into "elderly cat" territory with my 4 fuzzybutts, and now we're starting to have to juggle various ailments with contradictory treatments (crystal-prone cat with new food allergies to corn & chicken? Or maybe it's lymphoma causing malabsorption leading to weight loss? Either way, the only food he'll eat isn't Royal Canin SO. And he's getting too frail to safely put under anesthesia if he got blocked again...) I need someone who knows my critters and my priorities to help me navigate these decisions! Steroids? Watch & wait? Frequent UA's? *sigh* Dr. Smith! Don't ever leave!

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