Changing Times

Almost 80% of new veterinary school graduates are now female. Fewer veterinarians are going into large animal practice.

Fewer veterinarians have practice ownership as a goal.

Many have speculated on how these changes will affect our profession overall. I can not speak for all veterinarians, or even all female veterinarians of course.  But I can, as a female veterinarian, give my perspective on some of the issues we as individuals and a profession have before us.

I will start with what I know best, my own present experience, and work backwards to when I first knew I would end up here, though I did not know exactly what this would look like.  Today, I am a female veterinarian in my thirties.  I graduated in 1998.  I am a wife and a mother of two daughters.  I love our profession.  I love my part time job and the family-friendly hours that I work.  I need you to understand that I am as hard-working and dedicated to veterinary medicine as you are.

I am a small animal veterinarian in the city.  I apologize for not being the buyer for the practice on which you are relying for retirement.  I apologize for not taking over the care of the large animal patients you now tend, or being there for the small town whose veterinary needs you have met for all these decades.  I need you to figure out a Plan B.

I am home with my newborn on maternity leave.  It is my first time away from full time veterinary work since I started my career.  I need to be included in team meetings and continuing education opportunities, and to be kept up to date on cases we treated together, and told about new cases you are seeing.

I am only a few years into practice and considering starting a family.  I need you to consider flexible schedules or job sharing or part time employment as I look forward to my new life as both a mother and a veterinarian.

I am a veterinary school graduate searching for my first job.  I do not expect you to ignore the possibility that I may decide to procreate at any time, but I do not want to be interrogated about my family plans or asked to make promises that have no bearing on whether I am the best person for the job you have available.  I need you to believe me when I say that I will give your practice my very best if you hire me.

I am a twelve-year-old girl in your waiting room with my sick friend in my lap.  I want to be like you when I grow up.  I need you to tell me that even though you do not know exactly what that will look like, you do know that it is possible.

I am the future of veterinary medicine.  We are the future of veterinary medicine. I need you to walk through this new chapter of our profession alongside me.  We will combine our strengths and work through the upcoming challenges, making our profession better than it has ever been.   Even though I do not know exactly what that will look like, I do know that it is possible.

This was first published at The Wagging Tail for Veterinary Professionals on March 31. 2010.

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4 Responses to “Changing Times”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’m not a vet, but agree, as a career-minded mother of three, your logic reaches far beyond veterinary medicine.By the way, our local small-practice vet (a man), recently took on a part-time, 30-something veterinarian mom of a toddler (who was previously employed full-time in my city’s 24-hr emergency vet clinic). She’s a wonderful doctor and an asset to the practice.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Elizabeth! That is SO encouraging that your vet would see how much a part-time Mom-Vet could add to his practice…and awesome that he was right! As Moms we obsess about finding the right balance and I love to hear about when it works well!

  3. Pup Fan says:

    Really interesting post!

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Pup Fan! : )

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