By Perry Stanfield, DVM
This month I’d like to look at our profession a bit from the standpoint of a young person considering it for a career. We at Kulshan work with young people in various stages of preparation, from high school students looking for some exposure to veterinary medicine, all the way to senior students already accepted into the professional program, honing their skills prior to graduation. Most of these people have grappled with the basics of assessing a career in our profession.
What about people who have thought about it and have not taken it any further? As they try to decide if being a veterinarian is for them, what do they really need to know? I’ve been a veterinarian for while now. 30 years this past June, in fact. For anyone who wants to know about my lengthy path from high school to getting into vet school, just ask; I’ll spare you the details here. Suffice it to say, I think I’m qualified for writing this blog!
For myself, I cannot imagine a more fulfilling career than veterinary medicine. I’ve been bitten, kicked, scratched, bruised, sustained broken bones; I’ve had my share of economic hardship certainly compared to people in other professions. Those negatives pale in comparison to the positives I’ve experienced. Most of the positives revolve around the fact that pets are family members with incredible intrinsic value. The human-animal bond is a very powerful phenomenon, and I make my livelihood by keeping pets as healthy as possible for as long as possible in order to perpetuate that bond. Along the way, I get to meet all kinds of clients, mostly incredible, who when they can, go to amazing lengths to both help their pets, and who express their gratitude to me. I get to work with a great team of staff and colleagues, all with similar goals to keep pets healthy, or help them when there is a problem. And, I’m never, never bored.
What is required to become a veterinarian? Of course, a love for animals helps! Beyond that, it’s important that you can relate to people. I love to talk to young people about this; believe it or not I still hear from young people that they love working with animals more than with people. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens, and when it does I inwardly groan. You have to be able to do both. Beyond that, you have to be a very good student. You have to excel in high school, and you have to prepare well particularly in the sciences. You have to attend college and do very well in classes (vast majority of the requirement for application are science classes). Some people get into vet school with as little as 2 years of college work, but the average is closer to 4. The average student accepted into the 4 year professional veterinary program has great letters of recommendation, fantastic hours working with veterinarians, and has course work with far more A’s than B’s.
All careers have pros and cons, but veterinary medicine consistently ranks very high for job satisfaction. Jobs are plentiful, and if that changes some day, just remember: a bright enthusiastic veterinarian will NEVER have a problem finding a good job. You never know if it’s for you unless you check in out.
Have a fantastic fall everyone!