By Perry Stanfield, DVM
Are you, or any of your children, thinking about becoming a veterinarian? With the rapid expansion of the pet population in the United States, the career prospects in our profession have never been brighter. Most graduate veterinarians enter private practice, but there are many different opportunities for in government, research, and education.
Our industry didn’t always have that positive economic outlook. When I was considering being a veterinarian in the late 70s, I recall multiple veterinary journals stating job prospects were very challenging, and that in general entering the career made little economic sense. That sentiment turned out to be very shortsighted! Like all professions, ours has challenges. You don’t have to look very hard to read about them: long hours (spoiler alert, that’s always going to be a reality), challenging work/life balance, dealing with unhappy clients, and the like.
What about the positives? I have had the pleasure to work with many young people considering veterinary medicine over the years. I’ve always expressed an optimistic viewpoint: there is always going to be room for good veterinarians, regardless of the state of the economy. Historically, ours is a recession resilient profession. As far as rewards go: why not start with working with puppies or kittens? Sure, cuddling and spending time with our youngest patients is great fun. But of course, there’s more. Pets are family members. During a pet’s life, we foster bonds not only with the puppy, but also the bonds between that pet and family. It’s our job to protect that pet/family bond. It’s our livelihood. I LOVE it when parents bring their kids into the office during a pet appointment. It’s fun to watch them all grow up, together. Treating illness, figuring out problems, and performing surgery or which save pet lives is extremely rewarding. Families depend on us for medical advice, for providing medical service, and, sadly, for guidance when it is time to say goodbye to that loved one. It’s been a very fulfilling career, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have no earthly idea what I would have done for a career had I not become a veterinarian.
My advice for young people considering the veterinary profession: do not be discouraged by negative people, but be realistic. Becoming a veterinarian is an extremely competitive process. Last year over 2,000 applied to WSU college of Veterinary Medicine, and 123 were accepted. If you learn well and take tests well, you may be cut out to be a veterinarian, but don’t limit your search to veterinary medicine! If you are smart enough to become a veterinarian, you very well could have what it takes to be a physician- another very noble profession. The average “pre-vet” who was accepted into the 4-year professional program had an overall GPA of 3.7 in their undergraduate schooling, and the statistics for human medical students are very comparable.
If you are considering a career as a veterinarian, you are bound to have many questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the Kulshan doctors for answers!