A letter to the veterinarian who hates her job

March 23, 2018
Adriana Fisher, DVM, CVA

A fetch dvm360 attendee has a few things to say to her colleague who confessed that becoming a veterinarian was the worst decision shed ever made.

Fetch dvm360 speaker Sarah Wooten, DVM, leads several sessions about women in leadership. Dear Veterinarian who hates her job,

At the last Fetch dvm360 conference I went to, you were sitting next to me during a discussion about women in leadership. The topic at the moment was fair wages for veterinarians, and there was a heated debate going on-the older practice owners in the room didn't feel they could afford to pay higher wages, and they were sick of hearing new grads complain about their student loans. As an older millennial, I belong to the younger generation that graduated six years ago with student loan debt worth as much as my house. But I am currently making a fair wage as a medical director, so I was very interested in the discussion.

The moderator was trying to calm down the situation when you spoke up. I was impressed that you chose to talk in such a large group, as you seemed a little shy while sitting next to me. You stated that you were one of the first female veterinarians in your state, and you own your practice. I was in awe sitting next to one of the pioneers in our industry-but then the next thing you said floored me.

Feeling like you can relate?

Working in the field of veterinary medicine is stressful, and at times we all feel burnout, compassion fatigue and overwhelming anxiety due to tough cases or difficult clients. Maybe you think you have more in common with the stressed veterinarian in this letter than the letter writer.

That's where the pillars of Fetch dvm360 conference come into play. We've expanded our reach and our goals to include efforts that not only give you great CE but nurture your mind, connect you to other people who know what you're going through and seek ways to inspire you to love your job again.

Here's a small look at what we've got:

Meditation and yoga

This may be the part that sounds the most “woo.” But taking some time to get physically and mentally centered can do a lot to put you in a better place. And it's something that you can take back and apply to your everyday life! Consider how even a 10-minute guided meditation in the morning can prepare you for an unexpectedly stressful day ahead. There are also sessions (that can earn you CE) focusing on ways to conquer toxic teams, handle debt and prevent compassion fatigue.

Fetch dvm360 conference app

Yep. We now have an app for that. In addition to giving you all the latest sessions and where they are, we let you know what kind of fun is going on in the exhibit hall and post to the app activity stream. Meet some fellow attendees, map out your plan of attack for talking to exhibitors and keep that app in hand! Proceedings and handouts may be attached to the sessions you attend, giving you tools to take back to practice with you.

Vet Confessionals Project

You might be familiar with the Veterinary Confessionals Project at this point, but it's a particularly good exhibit to visit if you're feeling the need to get something off your chest or see that a lot of other veterinary professionals are going through the same struggles you are. Check out our latest sampling of encouraging confessions.

Editor's note: This letter was written by a Fetch dvm360 conference attendee after a fellow veterinarian spoke up during a session. To find more information about Fetch dvm360 conference sessions and where you can attend them for yourself, click here.

“Becoming a veterinarian was the worst decision I've ever made,” you said. “I have struggled to make a living, am exhausted after 40 years of practice, and am underappreciated by my clients.” Wow! You just took all my worst nightmares and verbalized them.

I wanted to cry after you said that. Being a veterinarian is not my life-I'm a wife, mother, runner, hiker and much more-but being a veterinarian is an essential part of who I am. It's a hard and often thankless job with long hours, employees who are difficult to manage, animals that sometimes want to eat you, cases that can't be solved … but it's also a great job. In one day I can educate a client about building a bond with their puppy, trim a macaw's beak, take a spleen out of a cat that would otherwise die, help a family say goodbye to their beloved 15-year-old Lab, and deliver a litter of puppies. The magnitude of honor and pride I have from doing all those tasks is enormous.

I know your journey has likely been difficult-everyone's is at some point. I've worked for less than I was worth, struggled to pay my bills, been called multiple names by angry clients. At the end of the day, though, I'm still proud of what I do. In the end I hope you can be proud as well.

I'm so happy I was sitting next to you that day; it allowed me to think about what I could say to you. And I want to thank you. Thank you for paving the way in this field for people like me. I also want to thank you on behalf of the numerous puppies and kittens you have saved with good vaccines and preventive healthcare. Thank you for all the lifesaving surgeries you have performed so those animals could go back to their families, thank you for helping countless families say goodbye to their furry friends with a dignified ending and, most of all, thank you for choosing this path. It has mattered to many people and animals-that I am sure of. So thank you from one veterinarian to another.

-Adriana Fisher, DVM, CVA

VCA Big Lake Animal Hospital

Wasilla, Alaska