What exactly is an alternative veterinary career?

May 1, 2016
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director

Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for dvm360.com. Before taking over

Heres a hint: It doesnt involve herbs or grunge music.

I'm one of those increasingly rare people who are doing exactly what they went to school to do. I studied journalism, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and I am now working for a magazine and website.

Back in those college years I didn't know I would be working with and for veterinarians day in and day out, but I knew my job would involve writing and editing, and here I am writing and editing-and feeling very privileged to work with such an amazing profession!

However, plenty of my J-school friends are doing different things these days: life coaching, leading church ministries, writing bestselling novels, raising kids, running businesses they launched themselves, programming websites for multimillion-dollar corporations-I could go on. The point is, whether by choice or because of circumstances, they forged a different path from the one they thought they'd head down originally.

Now, the cost of a journalism degree is nowhere near the cost of a veterinary degree, and many journalism skills can be transferred to other work situations, so the stakes are lower and the process perhaps easier for journalists than it is for veterinarians when it comes to choosing a different career path. However, we have identified a number of veterinarians who are using their degrees, training and experience in far different ways than they pictured starting out-or than society pictures when they think about veterinary medicine. Some have done it to find greater reward and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives; some have done it to respond to new ways pet owners are seeking to receive veterinary services these days-and some have found the sweet spot that does both.

So what constitutes an “alternative career”? Here's my take: It's a career path that makes you happier than the one you embarked on orginally, or that your world thinks you should be on. And happiness looks different for every individual, so you can have 100 different DVMs in 100 different careers all finding joy in their chosen method of veterinary service.