When people think of what it’s like to be a veterinarian, what comes to mind is typically a work environment filled with cute animals, a hefty paycheck, and of course the occasional difficult time when it comes to things like euthanasia. But many don’t realize how difficult the job actually can be, not to mention the intensive process of becoming a vet in the first place. Here are just a few things people don’t realize about being a veterinarian:
1. Time Commitment
“Vet school is just a two year program straight out of high school right?”
Wrong. The two year veterinary medicine programs are for veterinary technicians, but to become a veterinarian, it takes much longer. To become a veterinarian you’ll need to complete all the prerequisite courses, in many cases a preliminary bachelor’s degree, as well as many volunteer hours in a clinic or shelter to build your application. After acceptance into a vet school it will be an additional 4 years until you can have the title of DVM.
Vet school also isn’t as simple as showing up to class, occasionally studying, and maybe a few cram sessions before exams. It takes up a lot more of your spare time. It’s like a fire hose of information you need to memorize and understand, many late night study sessions, countless hours of lab work, blood, sweat, and tears. The intense time commitment doesn’t end after graduation either. Veterinarians often work long hours, some are on call after work or on weekends, and as a result, have little work life balance.
2. Money Issues
Considering the amount of schooling they go through, the cost of their students loans, and the intensity of the job, veterinarians don’t make that much money. The median salary for a veterinarian in the U.S is $72,709. While student debt is around $151,572. With this in mind, the pay in relation to the stress on the job, the late night hours, and the lack of work life balance, it isn’t as much as it probably should be.
Many people complain that the cost of taking their pets to the vet is too high and some even say vets are scamming them. This is completely untrue. Most veterinarians chose their career path because it is their passion and because of their love of animals. It is tough for them to see a client unable to afford treatment for their pet, but they can’t afford to discount all vet bills for everyone – after all they have a family to feed as well. Comparing to human health care, a trip to the doctor which isn’t covered by health insurance is much steeper than your pet’s trip to the vet.
3. Dissatisfaction In The Workplace
The mixture of a high stress work environment, a lack of work life balance, and dealing with emotionally difficult tasks such as euthanasia, it is common to find some veterinarians are struggling to find happiness at work. Some U.S studies have found that about 1 in 10 veterinarians struggle with mental health issues such as depressions and 1 in 6 have contemplated suicide.3 For a veterinarian, there is nothing worse than seeing a client unable to afford treatment for their pet and as a result when things get worse, having to put down an animal that could have been treated early on.
Being a veterinarian is a lot more than playing with puppies and kittens all day. It’s far from that. To all you veterinarians and soon to be veterinarians: we appreciate you, please keep up the amazing work!
(and please don’t let this post discourage you too much, there are countless reasons to love being a veterinarian too, and plenty of resources wink wink that can make learning and refreshing knowledge more manageable, and enjoyable)
To help accelerate your vet school studies and reduce the associated stress, be sure to try out EasyAnatomy!
Trusted by veterinary students from over 30 countries worldwide, and built in partnership with internationally respected universities and professors, it includes: Complete 3D canine anatomy; Unmatched medical accuracy; Fully interactive navigation; 500+ quiz questions & more.