4 Reasons to Work with Animals Before You Become a Veterinarian (and How Rover.com Can Help!)-A guest blog from Kelly Wright.
At Rover.com, we love the hardworking vets who have dedicated their careers to making our pets’ lives the best they can be!
That’s what inspired us to interview vets from all over the country for our recent feature, Veterinarians Share the Amazing Stories that Inspired Their Careers. Not only did they tell us the incredible tales behind why they followed their dreams into the field, we also learned that their careers unofficially started way before they donned their white lab coats!
Every vet we interviewed had experience working with animals prior to applying to vet school. And as we discovered, there are many great reasons for future vets to follow their lead (and Rover.com can even help)!
Here are 4 great reasons to work with animals before pursuing your dream of becoming a veterinarian:
You’ll learn about the hard parts of the job.
One of many reasons that vets are so remarkable is that their job is often unspeakably difficult — and not just because science is a tough subject.
“Being a veterinarian can be emotionally challenging,” Dr. Mary Gardner of Lap of Love International admitted. “Many people think we deal with puppies and kittens and fix sick animals all day.”
But unfortunately, despite vets’ best efforts, not every animal has a happy ending. And that doesn’t just take an emotional toll on pet parents — it’s hard for vets when they lose a patient too.
“Unfortunately, the dark side of veterinary medicine is that we suffer greatly from compassion fatigue,” Dr. Monica Dijanic of Beaver Brook Animal Hospital said.
Dr. Gardner agrees. “Being a vet is one of the most honorable jobs in the world to have — but it’s also one of the most compassion-draining fields to be in at the same time,” she explained. “You have to make sure you can handle that aspect of being a veterinarian.”
You’ll learn about being a compassionate caregiver in real-world settings.
You can’t learn empathy from a college textbook, but you will learn about it by working directly with animals — whether they’re your own pets or someone else’s.
Dr. Laura Ziegler of DoveLewis volunteered with the Humane Society and did search and rescue dog training when she was in grade school. She also learned a lot through her personal experience of caring for her own dog.
“Cuddles was a sweet little girl, but she had all the problems that miniature poodles have,” she remembered. “She had a collapsing trachea. She also had a liver shunt and had to have surgery, so I learned all about that when I was a kid.”
Through her experience both in and outside of her home, Dr. Ziegler acquired a special perspective on some of the tough times families face when caring for pets. This type of insight is vital to a veterinarian’s training outside of the classroom, and the best way to get it is through hands-on experiences.
You’ll learn how to work with different types of animals.
It’s not always raining cats and dogs — vets work with all kinds of animals!
“In high school, I volunteered with our local animal shelter and the local zoo to get more experience learning about and taking care of all different types of animals,” Dr. Tyler Carmack of Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice told us.
Working with a variety of animals creates more well-rounded veterinarians who can confidently treat whatever critters come their way. You’ll also open yourself up to other aspects of animal care that may be of more interest to you than working with domestic animals.
Speaking of other ways to put your vet training into action…
You’ll learn about job opportunities outside of working in a clinic.
Through your work with animals, you’ll learn there are all kinds of ways you can utilize your training as a vet. You’re not limited to a traditional doctor’s office setting if you have your sights set on a different horizon!
For example, Dr. Elizabeth Carney of Peaceful Pet Passage is a mobile veterinarian. Rather than having patients drop by for care, she hits the road to see them where they live.
“As a mobile vet, I love being on the road versus working in an office setting,” she said.
There are also vets who rarely (if ever!) treat domesticated pets, as they specialize in other areas of animal care. Just about any place you venture that provides a home to animals works with a vet to ensure their creatures are as happy and healthy as possible. Here are a few ideas on where you can share your animal expertise outside of a clinic:
- Rescue organizations or animal shelters
- Animal sanctuaries
- Conservation societies
- State and federal park and wildlife departments
If you’re looking for a fun opportunity to work with animals, pet sitting with Rover.com is a great way to get started!
“It’s important to have practical experiences with animals, whether it be petsitting, volunteering, or working with them in another way,” Dr. Carmack noted.
“Do something that helps you stand out from the crowd of other would-be veterinarians and gives you a unique perspective on animal care.”
Guest Blogger Kelly Wright explores and celebrates the magical and mysterious bond between pets and people for Rover.com’s Animal Heroes section. If you have an amazing story about how an animal has brought joy and wonder to your life, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.