One of my favorite songs is “I Lived” by One Republic. The lyrics include:
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived.
Isn’t that what we all want to do? If I could give a new graduate one piece of advice, it would be, “Don’t limit yourself.” The veterinary degree that you sweated bullets to earn can open up a multitude of possibilities.
Like most of you, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian about as soon as I could form coherent thoughts. And like you, I adopted a wide variety of critters when I was a child: snakes, gerbils, fish, dogs, cats, turtles, and even a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Growing up, I worked hard, got good grades, and spent a lot of time with a variety of veterinary mentors to figure out my focus. When I was accepted into veterinary school at Michigan State, I knew that I wanted to practice small animal medicine, so I built my electives around that choice. I couldn’t envision doing anything else with my life.
When I graduated, I found a job with a progressive small animal practice in Midland, Michigan. My bosses were excellent mentors, both clinically and in terms of client service. But I had married a classmate and he wasn’t faring so well, so I followed him to Minneapolis, where he found a job in industry, and I took the only job available in a not-so-progressive small animal practice.
In that era, industry jobs were viewed as the “dark side.” (How could you leave practice?) But far from being dark, I saw my husband thrive. He was partnering with colleagues in practice; helping train them to provide the best care possible for their patients. And for the first time in our professional lives, we not only had time for a personal life, but could actually pay our bills.
Our next move was to Kansas City; again, we moved because of my husband (this time, he got a promotion). There weren’t many practice jobs available and I couldn’t find one that matched my practice philosophy. I saw how happy my husband was professionally, so I thought, why shouldn’t I investigate an industry job?
A veterinary journal was looking for an editor at the time. I had always loved English in high school and college, and the position was a great fit. I collaborated with specialists and honed my editing skills. I eventually grew into a position where I oversaw all things clinical, including the journal, website, and CE conferences.
It was professionally fulfilling and I stayed for quite a while. But eventually, I felt stale. About this time, I had a conversation with a friend who told me that he likes to reinvent himself every seven years to grow and feel challenged. I got it. So I looked at my options and moved on again.
I’m now with Putney, a veterinary generic pharmaceutical company. It’s an amazing small company with a very entrepreneurial feel. More importantly, what we do is vital to veterinary medicine. Our mission is to make pet healthcare more affordable by providing veterinary approved generic drugs so that clients can make decisions based on their pet’s medical needs vs. their paycheck. I feel proud to be a part of that mission.
The position involved a move from Kansas City to Portland, Maine, which wasn’t easy for my husband (but it was my turn for a move). The change in scenery has been fantastic – the ocean, mountains, lakes, lobsters. We love it.
I don’t know where you are on your own professional journey, but I want you to know that there are a lot of options out there and many ways to fulfill your passion for veterinary medicine, even if you’re sure you know exactly what you want to do right now. I recommend that you own every second of your experience. See places, do things and take the risk of trying something new. For me, that has been the key to no regrets.
Dr. Tracy Revoir graduated from Michigan State University (Go Green!) and practiced in Michigan, Minnesota, and Kansas. She is currently Manager of Veterinary Support for Putney, located in beautiful Portland, Maine.
This post made possible by: