I want to be a large animal, especially equine, vet. I also want to have time to spend with my family and not be away all the time. What kind of practice should I work at for this, and is there even a way to have both family time and do the type of work I want to?
This is a follow-on to my answer to your other question https://www.careervillage.org/questions/537796/what-is-it-like-to-be-a-large-animal-veterinarian
You ask a really excellent question, and this is a HUGE area of conversation in equine practice now. To be totally honest, I think we are going through some growing pains as an industry as more and more people make family life and work/life balance a real priority. Some of us have not been good about that, and some do it really well.
Some of my colleagues have found ways to enjoy their work in equine practice and still spend the time they want with their families. Some have struggled with it and have left equine practice or left veterinary medicine altogether. (being totally honest here) How an individual veterinarian makes it work depends on their priorities and boundary-setting, and also depends hugely on the type of practice.
It might be harder to find that balance if:
- you work for yourself in a solo practice and try to cover all of your clients' emergency calls.
(a solution is to arrange with other solo practices to cover for each other, or to refer to a nearby larger hospital for emergencies)
(another solution is to work in a large group practice where the practice culture values you and your time)
- you have difficulty setting boundaries - people WILL call/text/DM at all hours of the day and night.
(a solution is to turn off your phone at the end of your work day, and tell clients you will not reply out of hours)
- you enjoy the work so much that it is difficult to turn anything down and you overdo it
(this is my problem (I find the work so fun!) but the solution is to set hours for work and hours for yourself/family)
The best way to navigate this question is probably to make an effort to meet and talk to veterinarians who have and are dealing with this exact question. This is not only a women's issue, but until recently, only women were discussing it. Fortunately, the conversation is growing and now nearly all aspects of the profession are discussing ways to address it.
As you continue through school, ask the veterinarians that you meet - whether at career fairs, or preview days/open houses, or in job-shadowing or work. Depending on the vet school you go to (and vet school is HARD on personal life but it is a finite amount of time and it is doable!) you may have more opportunities to rotate with veterinarians in practices outside of the university teaching hospital, and you can discuss it with them and see how they deal with it. At veterinary conventions there are now sessions devoted to balance, family, mental health, mindful practice, and there are lots of good strategies out there! I have spoken with colleagues who have come up with all sorts of ways to make it all work and be very happy and fulfilled. A lot of it depends on finding the right people to work with, setting expectations for yourself, your team, and your clients.
Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:
Be a vet for this type, it is very hard to stay in the office. You have to be on site to treat the pet. As a vet for this type and with your requirements, you can set up your own time to visit the pet if pet in critical condition. With high tech now, you can do on line visit if pet not in critical. This way you can spend time with your family.