Fall in love with your job in veterinary medicine (again)


Getting stuck behind a bus on my morning commute reminded me to stop and enjoy the fall leaves as they changed colorand helped me find more happiness in simple pleasures at home and at work.

The veterinary industry is steady, busy and productive. People who work in animal hospitals are compassionate, efficient and dedicated. We work long, hard hours, and we generally find our positions emotionally rewarding. We could easily leave our positions and find financial rewards in the corporate world, but we choose to stay at our animal hospitals, and the reasons we decide to stay are similar our colleagues' reasons. 

I'm chatting about this not to bestow the awesomeness of working in animal hospitals. I babble on because we all know this-we all know how dedicated, kindhearted and hardworking we are. My question to you is-when is the last time you stopped what you were doing, popped your head up and actually looked around you? 

Outside of mycomfort zone

I wear many hats and I am quite busy-as many of us are. I'm constantly multitasking, completing tasks and moving on to new tasks. I have my agenda for the day and I do not leave before everything is finished. Normal for a type-A uber-efficient personality, proud to do the work of three people effectively. 

Two weeks ago I was driving to work. I left the house a little late and made my routine morning journey to the bank. I was just the right amount of late, however, to get stuck behind a school bus. 

My first emotional response, as expected, was frustration and maybe a little bit of anger. The road I was on was long, with many bus stops. I started to readjust my schedule in my head, figuring I may be 15 minutes or more behind when I got to work. Then I looked up.

Wow, autumn had arrived. The trees were beautiful hues of bright yellow oak leaves, vibrant orange and red maple leaves mixed in with the green pine and fir bows. The sun was shining brightly through the leaves, making them glow with their colors. How had I missed this? Suddenly a smile crossed my face, and I was happy to be stuck behind the bus. I spent the entire drive to work with the smile on my face, enjoying the colors. 

Don't miss the important stuff

I was so stuck in the “now” and the “get it done” that I was missing one of my favorite things, the changing colors of the leaves. I used to go hiking every autumn as often as possible-I would sit in the woods in awe and appreciation. 

Unknowingly I had given this up. What else had I given up? Well, I used to love making soup. But I couldn't remember the last time I made soup. 

I have been on a journey of self-discovery over the past two weeks, weighing the pros of working with the cons of forgetting about simple pleasures in life. There is no reason we can't have both, as long as we don't get bogged down in our own work ethics and forget to pop our heads up and look around. 

I spent a recent weekend in Vermont. You can't get better autumn foliage than that. And I've made two big pots of soup. Rather than my work suffering for it, I think it's the better for it. 

Have you heard the old adage, happy wife, happy life? It's possible that we can morph this concept to veterinary care as well. I can't think of a good rhyme for that right now, but as you're starting to look up and remember the pleasures in your life, please let me know if you think of one. 

Kristine Suszczynski is the hospital manager at Portland Veterinary Specialists in Portland, Maine.

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