Working DVM mom? Youve got this
When were caught between the family we love and the veterinary career we cherish, our fears and guilt can overwhelm us. Stop beating up on yourself, veterinarian moms.
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You roll out of bed after hitting snooze three times, start the coffee, and feed and medicate your allergy-ridden Schnauzers. You almost forget to throw some food to your needy outdoor cat, but he reminds you of his presence by bantering away at the window. You finally make it-coffee in hand-to the mirror to apply some quick makeup to hide the bags under your eyes. Your hair goes up in the same old messy bun. Just then your “Don't be late to wake the little one!” timer goes off. You realize her lunch isn't packed and her folder from school isn't checked. You rush around for another 15 minutes only to realize you are still running late. You drop off your daughter at school and arrive at work. You check your schedule to find you have five drop-offs, you're fully booked, a blocked tom coming in, a possible pancreatitis case, cranky Mr. Smith, a 75-pound lab spay and a 12-year-old poodle for a grade four dental. It's only 8 a.m and funny how you feel drained already.
Like many of you, I've always had a passion for animals and as long as I can remember I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved to learn and still love to learn. My passion for animals got me through nine years of college, an internship and numerous associate positions. Then came a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who stole my heart. Before I knew it we had dance classes, gymnastics, swim lessons, school programs, parent lunches and all the fun things that come along with being a mom. Along with all these wonderful things also comes the mom guilt: Am I missing out on doing things with my daughter while I'm doing what I love at work? Do I have enough love in my heart for both passions? Are there enough hours in the day and energy to spare for both?
You're not a bad mom-you're a working mom
I say it's OK to be overwhelmed, and it's okay to want to do it all-be a great mom and a great vet.
If you don't make it to an event, you're not a bad mom-you're a working mom (often with a lot of student loan debt to pay off).
If you don't take that extra appointment or come in for that emergency, you're not a bad vet. You can't do it all (even though you may want to). You're only one person. Don't let mom guilt bring you down. We all experience it at one time or another.
Our clinic motto was strategic-“where friends are family, and family is first.” I made the decision to buy a practice so I could do just that, put my family first! As much as I love my job, my family is forever. This job will end (hopefully around the age of 60, if I'm lucky). Fido won't remember the time I couldn't squeeze him in, but my daughter will remember every dance recital I missed.
But that's me. What's truly important to you? That's for you to decide. For me, the choice is easy: It's my family. Does that make me a bad veterinarian or a bad business owner? No, it makes me a human with a new passion that squeezed into my big heart, but I've found that my heart is big enough for both.
Just because family comes first doesn't mean I'm a failure as a veterinarian
I still wake up in the middle of the night worrying about my patients and challenging cases. I pour my heart and soul into my practice and strive every single day to be a better, more educated and more compassionate veterinarian. Being a good vet is about caring for your patients and their pet parents, empathizing with their needs and educating your clients. You learn new things and admit when you're wrong or don't know something. That's what being a good vet is all about. It's not about how many cases you can see in one day, how many emergencies you take, how much money you make or how many difficult surgeries you perform.
The only thing any client is going to remember is how compassionate and caring you are. As a mom, this comes naturally to you, so you will instinctually be not just a good vet, but a great vet and a great mom.
Dr. Shana Bohac is the owner of Navarro Small Animal Clinic in Victoria, Texas. She has a passion for surgery as well as compassionate wellness care. She has a husband, Brandon, daughter, Aiden, three crazy cats, two dogs and a handful of horses.