Mind Over Miller: The 3 requirements for loving veterinary medicine


What characteristics does someone need to be a passionate veterinarian? Dr. Miller reveals.

“I love medicine and surgery and I enjoy all aspects of veterinary medicine. You can never get bored in this profession.”

Yes! Exactly! Ours is the least boring of all the medical professions.

The above statement was made in a biographical article about Dr. Raj Salwan, a practitioner in Fremont, Calif., and the son of a veterinarian.

He adds, “It is rare to find any profession where the same person does pediatric care, medicine, senior care, radiology, surgery, and all the other expertise we provide.”

Exactly! Even if a veterinarian limits his or her practice to a single species, like dairy cattle or cats, that doctor will be confronted with every possible medical challenge.

I know a physician who does nothing but hip replacements in his patients, and a dentist who limits her practice to orthodontics. It is the variety of challenges that makes our profession so challenging and so exciting for the great majority of veterinary practitioners. It is never dull.

Granted, our income is far less than that of most doctors who work on humans-but we do OK.

Surveys show us to be the most content of practitioners within the medical arts.

I once spoke at a roundtable event wherein attendees paid to sit at a large table, have dinner with me, and ask questions. I was asked a multitude of things about many aspects of practice.

At the end of the session, I said, “You have asked me many questions, and I hope I answered them to your satisfaction. Now I want to ask you one: If you could do it all over again, would you still choose veterinary medicine?”

The dozen at my table, ranging from a 10-year veteran to a man in his mid-70s, all nodded enthusiastically.

The oldest one, on my immediate left, said: “In a heartbeat!”

Loving veterinary practice requires three qualities:

1. A fascination with the art and science of medicine.

2. A value system that does not put income above the other goals in life.

3. A deep and lasting love of animals and the desire to help them and work closely with them.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.

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