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I am stuck between two career paths. How do I choose the right career for me?

The two careers I am having a tough time choosing between being a wildlife rehabilitator/ exotic vet and an orthopedic surgeon/trauma surgeon.

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Pravin’s Answer

Career choice should depends on multiple things:
1) How much do you really like to work in that field? - You should interview 3 people in that area. Ask them detail questions about
a) What they like about their job?
b) What they dislike about their job?
c) Would they recommend the job to their own son or daughter?
d) Would they select the same profession if they were to rewind their life?
After learning that, if you still like it, try to shadow them for few days and then make a decision is this what you see yourself doing for rest of your life.

2) Do you have the skillset/determination to become what you want to become? For example, I may like to become a heart surgeon but do I have mental determination to study for 12 years after high school to become a heart surgeon.

Remember, you can work hard and become whatever you want. However, it is worthwhile to put some effort upfront to understand what a field entails in long run and is that where you see yourself for next 40 years of your career.
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Bhavna’s Answer

It's important to consider both of your career options and what they involve in terms of training, specialization, income potential and job duties in order to make an informed decision.

Before making your choice, research each field: investigate job postings, read trade journals and industry surveys, and investigate communities with job opportunities in each field. Consider what kind of lifestyle each career field offers, such as hours, opportunities for advancement and the location of jobs.

Once you have a better understanding of what each career path involves and how they compare, the next step is to determine which career aligns best with your interests, goals and values. Ask yourself which role would give you the most job satisfaction, provides rewards that you find fulfilling and would enable you to use your skills and talents to the fullest. Consider your likes and dislikes and think about how each career choice would fit into your lifestyle.

Before making your decision, you may want to consult with a mentor or career counselor for further advise on which career path would be best for you and have honest conversations about the pros and cons of each option.
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Venus’s Answer

You might start by asking yourself what kind of work environment you would like to be in:
Do you enjoy working a stable job or one that roams out and about?
Do you prefer working with people or with animals?

Traditionally, people spend a third of their lives working. It's a good idea to start asking yourself what kind of person you are and the kind of environment you thrive in.
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Danusa’s Answer

You have to think about what you like, where you feel the time would fly by and where you would be happy, it's a big decision and you should spend some time getting to know yourself and identify where you would be most comfortable or happy.
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Mercy’s Answer

In my experience the surgeons do not have as much time with the patient because there is an entire team that prepares for the surgery, including anesthesia and recovery. Think about how much you want the interaction.

Mercy recommends the following next steps:

Shadow each option
Compare salaries
Compare travel
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Marti’s Answer

When choosing a career path it is best if you think about your true passions. When you are stuck between two different career choices then it might be a good idea to evaluate how long the schooling will be for each.

You might find that you can be doing one career while pursuing the next choice.

It is never a good idea to commit to long term schooling if you find that you are not enjoying the topics and you are already committed.
Find something you can do now that is in the same area of interest to see if it is something you want to pursue.

Marti recommends the following next steps:

Get a job or volunteer at an a veterinarian office that deals with these types of exotic animals.
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Jimil’s Answer

Choosing a career can be a difficult decision, especially when you are interested in multiple paths. Here are a few things to consider that may help you make a decision:

Assess your skills and interests: Both wildlife rehabilitation/exotic vet and orthopedic surgery/trauma surgery require a high level of knowledge, skills, and dedication. Consider what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, and what you are passionate about. You may also want to speak to professionals in both fields to get a better understanding of what each career entails.

Consider the educational requirements: Both fields have a long educational path, make sure you understand the time and financial investment required to pursue either path. Research the education and training required for each field, as well as the employment outlook and earning potential.

Job requirements and work environment: Research the working conditions and job requirements for each field. For example, if you prefer working indoors or you don’t like working with animals, wildlife rehabilitation might not be the best fit. If you want to work with human patients and you don't mind working in emergency conditions, orthopedic or trauma surgery might be a better fit.

Look for opportunities for cross-over: Some people pursue career path that combines both fields, for example, a veterinarian that specializes in treating wild animals or even a doctor that has an interest in conservation medicine.

Consider the long-term perspective: Think about where you see yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years. Which career would you enjoy most in the long run? Are there opportunities for advancement or career growth in the field?

Ultimately, the most important thing is to make a decision that aligns with your values, interests, and goals. It's also worth remembering that your career path may not be set in stone, and it's possible to switch fields later on if your interests or circumstances change.
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Aliya’s Answer

Hi Katelyn:

I think your career choice is great no matter which one you choose.

I'm not sure when you said Orthopedic (Ortho)... are you referring to humans or animals? Nevertheless, in choosing one of the fields, you would have to start by having good grades in high school and after. One thing I know, colleges aren't just focusing on grades. They want to see your interaction in the field you are acquiring. My suggestion would be for you to volunteer or work in a veterinary hospital or rehabilitation facility for starters. There are many people who need help in feeding, and cleaning cages for these animals. As you get better and gain their trust - you will definitely have more responsibilites in taking care of them. In a vet hospital, you will experience surgeries from Orthos to spay/neuters. See what inspires you while working for them.

Start watching Animal Planet and Disney Plus (to name a few) because they have shows about animals - that's a great way to understand their world.

In any case, I would start by becoming a veterinarian first because you could do either (Ortho or Rehab for wildlife) with more training. Veterinary School teaches you the "books" in how to treat your patients from various species (animals). Each one has different body functions, and you must understand the reason behind them. Once you graduate, you can decide to take on an Intern/Externship in the fields you are asking about. You can go online or to local bookstores that are inexpensive and look for books on healing animals. Wait until you see how many bones each animal has and why they are that way. (Example - Birds to large cats)

You could even go overseas and help in China, Africa, and Australia's animals - there is so much to do in the animal world, and if you apply yourself, you can do it!!! I wish you all the best.

Skies the limit when it comes to veterinary medicine.
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Maria’s Answer

Katelyn, I would recommend the following:
- Try to connect with a professional in each career, see if there is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about their jobs, their day to day, how their education process was, etc.
- Look into possibilities to intern at a wildlife rehabilitation facility and also at a surgeon's office, see if there are opportunities to visit if no internship opportunities. Observe what happens, ask questions to the corresponding professionals
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