The average vet tech’s career is 7-10 years. Did you know that? I did. And after 5 years in veterinary medicine, I thought I almost made it. That statistic won’t get me. Here I am. I have arrived. But it’s funny how quickly things can change.
When I became pregnant, I thought how serendipitous my situation was. I worked long but varying days as a vet tech and my husband was home during the day, working evenings and weekends as a musician. This is perfect! He’ll be home with the baby in the daytime while I’m at work, and I’ll just make sure I’m home before he has to leave. Things were falling into place perfectly; life was putting a path in front of us and we knew exactly what to do.
Then I went into labor, had a cesarean section under general anesthesia, and woke up to the most beautiful human I have ever seen lying on my chest. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. When you’re pregnant everyone tells you, “just you wait, everything is different after you have kids,” but they never tell you how. Maybe it’s something different for everyone. For me, this tiny little boy, yawning under a knitted hat, needed me more than anything in this world and I could not leave him.
Postpartum was hard for me. I had complications that made me closely examine my life in a way I’d rather not have. I spent weeks grappling with the decision: If I leave, am I giving up everything I’ve worked so hard for? If I stay, am I giving up precious time with my baby? My identity had largely become based around what I did for a living and if I wasn’t vet teching, wasn’t even working… then who was I? Ultimately my husband got a day job and I resigned. I felt horrible, like I was abandoning everyone I worked with, and after everything they’d done for me. I felt selfish. But guess what? They understood. And guess what else? Life went on without me and the whole hospital didn’t fall apart.
My son is 8 months old now, I love being a stay at home mom, and my former bosses and coworkers are still doing just fine. Maybe that should be a bruise to the ego, but it’s a relief. I am not so important that the entire system will fall apart without me. Others will not crumble in my absence. This relieves me of the guilt that I felt for doing something that was really important to myself and my family.
I know not everyone can do this. To be honest, I’m amazed that we have. If you have to work or want to work, there’s no judgment here. I felt strongly about something and I’m lucky that I was able to make it happen. But feeling strongly about it didn’t make it easy. I felt guilty, I questioned if I was doing the right thing. I questioned my whole identity.
If I’m being completely honest, I was feeling burnt out anyway, I just never let myself think about it until I actually thought about it. Then it was amazing how quickly things changed. Time and distance have refreshed my passion for veterinary medicine. I don’t know when I’m coming back or where I’m going, but I know I’m excited to see where I end up. I might feel very differently if I had never turned my whole life upside-down.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that this is a hard career to maintain. My point is, only you know what’s right for you and you have to follow your own happiness. I’m not saying quit your job tomorrow, but if there’s something else you want to be doing then try to figure out a way to do it. If you’re not happy, start looking for something else. Change jobs, or change careers. Sure, things might be upside down for a while, but you would figure it out. You can always figure something out. No job is worth your happiness, your wellbeing, or your life. They will be fine without you, and you don’t owe anyone anything. If what you’re doing is swallowing you up, get out while you still can.
Because no matter how bad it seems, things can always change.
If you need to take a break it’s okay. If you need to leave, it’s okay.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candace is a graduate of the St. Petersburg College Veterinary Technology program and Certified Veterinary Technician in the Tampa Bay Area. In addition to being a CVT, she also holds a Bachelors degree in psychology from the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg. She shares a home with her husband, son and dog Sadie. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling and changing song lyrics to make the song about Sadie.