Today was a big day for me. My eighteen months of maternity leave has finally come to an end and I would have been returning to work as a registered veterinary technician at the same small animal hospital I’ve been employed with for over nine years now.
But instead, I’ve chosen to take a big leap and concentrate all of my efforts on helping families adopt rescue dogs with the Pawdoption Guide Membership Experience I’ve created, whilst caring for my young family.
This is huge for me because I am such a proud RVT!
I have always loved what I do. I’ve been an advocate for my profession while regularly enjoying the pursuit of continuing education. I thought I had the coolest job in the world; as a registered veterinary technician you’re ALWAYS on your feet and you get to dabble in so many things. One minute you’re prepping and monitoring a patient in surgery, the next you’re taking x-rays, running lab work, reading cytology, or providing client education. The day-to-day work I did was everything I had dreamed of during the two years I spent obtaining my college diploma for this role.
That being said, working in a vet hospital is anything but perfect. Even though the role fulfilled me, I seriously considered leaving my vet clinic a few times during my career there. I always chose to stay for the standard of care and professionalism that they upheld. I just didn’t think anyone else could match it.
So How Did I Get Here…
In 2019 when I started my own business, Pawdoption Guide, I had no idea when or if it would become a full-time gig. I merely started it thinking that I should have a backup plan because many technicians dealt with burnout or short careers. At one point, I had heard that the average career length for vet techs was 5 years! Probably, in part, because our low salary was and is easily matched by other job opportunities. Shift work, physical demands, and clinic atmosphere most likely played a role in this too. That statistic was an eye-opener for me.
Now, there are certainly some technicians who stay in the field long term but I would not hesitate to say that the majority of them don’t have children. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine is not an easy field to be in while raising children and my priorities changed quickly with the birth of my two kids.
I realized how much time I would be sacrificing with them if I worked the rotating shifts of an RVT. There would be weeks at a time where I wouldn’t see my kids following dropping them off at daycare in the morning. I decided I wasn’t okay with this.
Let me be the first to acknowledge my privilege to be able to make a choice like that or even have the financial stability to do so. I am very fortunate.
When I went back to work following my first maternity leave, I was able to negotiate a stable work schedule with no rotation. However, in doing so, I had to relinquish most of my participation in surgery duties. This was almost unthinkable for me, my identity as a vet tech was wrapped up in this aspect of my work, yet I gave it up because I could not imagine the alternative.
It was definitely the right choice for me and I got used to the new norm but my job no longer held the balance and satisfaction that it once had. This, along with a second child was really the tipping point for my in-clinic career.
At this point, I was creating a lot of free resources and courses to empower dog adopters in their dog adoption journey, and completing each one of them enlivened my passion for dog rescue and adoption. I could never have imagined being so fulfilled by something other than my RVT duties in an animal hospital. So, with this personal growth came the awareness that I must continue to pursue this new passion.
The nail in the coffin, so to say, was when I set out to write my resignation letter. I did what most people do and googled “resignation letter template.” The template I came across looked great and had all the necessities, plus a few optional things. One of them is to mention a memorable achievement, big accomplishment, or highlight of your career.
I thought, “Sure, how hard could that be?” Well, I must’ve sat on that question for hours, maybe even days. I just kept reliving my 9 years as an RVT at this small animal hospital and all of the opportunities where I showed initiative, leadership or brought something to fruition. I thought of many things but I could not find even one thing that felt worthy of that title. Not one. Every example that came close had a mental asterisk beside it for one reason or another. The truth is, as a veterinary technician you do so many tasks. The accomplishments are many, yet that’s all expected of you. The authority to see projects or tasks through the way you may want to is seldomly possible. The vet or boss is always overseeing you and has the final say.
For me, it was suddenly and overwhelmingly clear that although I enjoyed the tasks I performed as a tech I was left feeling unrewarded because I didn’t feel I could take full responsibility for my accomplishments. I wanted the ability to lead, not just contribute.
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea and think that I resent my workplace for this revelation. I honestly don’t think I would have had a different result recalling a 9-year career at any other clinic. The really joyous or impactful memories for me all surrounded the camaraderie I experienced as a team or with my individual colleagues.
It just comes down to the role description of a registered veterinary technician which is to work alongside and assist the veterinarian. This was no longer serving me.
In comparison, with just 2 years under my belt as an entrepreneur, I can name 10 things or more that I’m immensely proud of accomplishing and have provided me with personal and professional growth. That resignation letter gave me the clarity I needed to turn my side-hustle into a full-time gig while confidently leaving my in-clinic vet-tech career. Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly the way onward and upward for me as an RVT.
About the Author:
Bethany Muir is a seasoned RVT from Kitchener, ON Canada, who is passionate about rescuing pets. She proudly uses her RVT skills to empower dog adopters in locating, adopting, and integrating their dream rescue dog via her Pawdoption Guide Membership Experience. Find out more by listening to weekly episodes of the Pawdoption Guide Podcast or visiting her website.