Being a Veterinarian: What does it take?

being-a-veterinarian

If you are reading this article it is very likely that you know somebody who has a desire to be a veterinarian. It could be yourself, a relative, or even a colleague of yours. If somebody wants to find information on what is involved in being a veterinarian, it is easy find what is required. With a google search you can find where the veterinary schools are and what these schools expect from prospective students. You also can find out what classes you need to complete in your undergraduate program and what grades are needed to be considered competitive. What you may not discover are what personality traits are helpful when working in this field.

One obvious personality trait is a love for animals. This is why many people become a veterinarian right? However there are many people who love animals but still being a veterinarian is not for them. What does it mean to have a love for animals? Well for most people it is easy to love their very own pets especially if they train them a certain way. But is it easy to love someone else’s pet? How about loving someone else’s pet when they are trying to bite and scratch you? Can you love them even if they urinate and get other bodily excrements on you? This is what many veterinarians deal with almost on a daily basis. Despite this, maintaining compassion to care for these animals is essential. Having a love for animals is having patience and understanding regardless of their behavior.

There is having an ability to take risks. There are some risks with being a veterinarian. Veterinarians are at risk of being bitten, scratched, or injured by their patients. What other career field do you know of where that risk is present? Just imagine having to exam an angry 100 lb Rottweiler, or extremely aggressive cat that is very proficient at using its claws and teeth. It sounds frightening but there still has to be a way to take care of these patients without being fearful of them.


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Being a veterinarian requires you not to be hypersensitive to unpleasant smells and sights. Let’s face it as with many careers in the health field we deal with the sight of blood, excrement, vomit, and other things. Many sick pets are vomiting, having diarrhea, and can have open festering wounds among other disgusting things. You also have to deal with various creepy and crawling things. Many pets have fleas, ticks, lice, maggots, and intestinal parasites. So being a veterinarian, exposure to these are frequent. All of this could easily overwhelm somebody with a weak stomach.

Having the ability to adapt is important as well. Things don’t always go according to the book. When they don’t, having the ability to adjust to the circumstances is important. Even the most routine procedures and surgeries can have unexpected outcomes. Being able to handle these outcomes is crucial in being a veterinarian.

Being in control of emotions has a significant role in being a veterinarian. One of the most emotional aspects of veterinary medicine is dealing with euthanasia. It can be difficult to witness a client’s emotional response to their pet being put down. But it can be even more difficult knowing you are the one giving the injection. Now all euthanasia are difficult, but some are easier than others. If the client waits until their pet is laterally recumbent and can barely move then the euthanasia is seen as a relief for that pet. Where euthanasia gets really difficult is when the pet is wagging its tail and looks well but needs to be put down because of a major illness. Those who are emotionally sensitive may find this circumstance extremely difficult to handle.

Finally it may be helpful not to be judgmental especially with people who don’t share your same beliefs. In most cases you don’t get to pick who your clients are, they are the ones that pick you. This means you are likely to end up with people with different cultures, backgrounds, education, religions, and political affiliations. Even though in many cases you may not be able to determine what religious or political affiliation your clients are, you may be able to determine how they view animals. There are some clients who view their pets as their own children and others who view them as property. Being a veterinarian requires being able to handle clients who have a range of these views. Your treatment protocol may vary based on how your client views their pet. Therefore, in some instances you may not be able to provide as much care as you would like to your patients. Also, you will have deal with clients that have a range of knowledge about pet care. There are some who may believe that they have more knowledge than you and will attempt to direct or question your treatment plan. Then there are others who you have to go into painstaking detail to explain your treatment recommendations. Patience is the key in both situations.

As you can see being a veterinarian is much more than having good grades and loving animals. It definitely doesn’t just involve cuddling with cute pets. There are certain character traits that one might want to determine they have to see if this is truly a career for them. If someone who is interested in this field and can handle the challenges mentioned, then it is likely they will be a great veterinarian. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please share with anyone who may be interested in being a veterinarian. Hopefully this will be helpful in their final decision.


 

2 thoughts on “Being a Veterinarian: What does it take?

  1. Yes being a vet is challenging but rewarding career and anyone who is thinking about it must be very careful in their choice. As the article pointed out it takes much more than just a love for animals and good grades.

  2. Wow I had no idea how much emotional control a vet would need to have. It would be so hard to have to put a pet with an illness down. I’ve had to take one of my pets to a vet for this reason before and I felt awful! I’m sure it feels even worse for the vet because they love animals so much. Thank you for your article I have a lot more respect for vets now!

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