Not everyone needs/must go through the Match
Every year when October rolls in, the hallways of veterinary teaching hospitals start booming with conversations regarding the veterinary matching program.
Most of you are excited about it. Then there are some who clearly know this is not for them. And finally, there are some of you that simply don't know if this specialty medicine thing is the way to go.
Don't get peer pressure get to you
Keep this in mind - everyone is different and despite the fact that your best friend always knew he/she wanted to be a cardiologist (or "insert specialty here"), that doesn't mean you need to follow advanced training as well! It is however, very easy to get "trapped" in peer pressure when most (or all) of your close friends are applying through the match.
Don't let peer pressure lead you to go through the Match if you're not completely sure that's what you want!
Don't let that happen! There are many career options in our profession, and pursuing specialty medicine is only one of them. There is nothing wrong about being a general practitioner, an emergency doctor, mixed animal practitioner, or something else. All of these are very much needed.
It is crucial to remember that caring for our patients is always a team effort - pet parent, general practitioner and a specialist, if referral has been pursued. Speaking of which, the American Animal Hospital Association has created guidelines for referral and consultation which are definitely worth the read.
How do I figure it out?
If you're on the fence regarding specialty medicine, then you have to try and figure out why you want to do it and if you are willing to commit to the sacrifices that come along with it.
Are you in for an internship only or for residency as well? It's ok if you're not sure yet. Some interns don't decide until they've had a great rotation and that is the kicker to go for residency! If you know a residency is not for you, could you get somewhat similar experience working in a practice that has specialists?
Are you willing to travel across the country depending on where you match? What about your significant other? Check out this blog post from KevinMd.com where some of these struggles are mentioned - not veterinary but the concepts are the same.
Can you afford to take minimal pay for one year (internship only) or a minimum or 4 years (internship + residency, if you match the first time for both)? Based on information from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the average starting internship salary was $32,103 for the 2017-2018 matching program - $33,595 for private practice, $27,247 for academia (source). In comparison, for the 2018-2019 training year, the average starting salary was $35,021 for all listed residencies (source). In comparison, the mean 2016 starting salary is estimated to be $73,380 (source).
These are just a few things to consider right off the bat - If you want to know more about this and the Match in general, check out our book below!