We just got featured on Dr. April Kung’s podcast at Realize.vet! We had a great conversation that hopefully will be helpful to all of you, regardless of if you’re considering applying to vet school or if you’re a little ahead of that and deciding if specialty medicine is for you.
To make your life easier, we decided to compile a list of comments/questions you may have after listening to the recording/video.
Feel free to chat with us or simply comment below if you have additional questions! Don’t be shy, we love hearing from you!
1. If you are pursuing a career in veterinary medicine because you don’t “want to deal with people”, you’re in the wrong field.
Remember that there is a parent attached to the pet you’re seeing, and more often than not they are carrying a lot of emotion and worry with them into the exam room. This is very much like human pediatric medicine, where your patient might be too young to talk or unable to offer you detailed information on how they feel. Some of these pet parents will make our lives difficult despite the fact that we’re on the same team and with a common goal: making their pet feel better.
2. Not being taught by board-certified specialists doesn’t mean your education is less valuable or that you know less than other veterinarians taught by these people. Remember that vet school is just the beginning. There is a whole new world of knowledge out there, and it’s up to you to be in charge of your own education!
3. If you want to see how things are done elsewhere, create those opportunities!
Do your research, reach out to people, and see what’s available that can be useful for your career!
4. Not working at a specialty practice doesn’t mean that you can’t practice good medicine.
You should always offer the standard of care. If you’re not sure how to proceed with a case, you can always chat with a specialist near you and/or refer the case. Do not make financial decisions for the pet parent! Your job is to offer what the pet needs, and if finances are an issue, then tweak your diagnostic/treatment plan.
5. Unpaid internships are rare
I was lucky that this was even a possibility, as it saved me one whole year. At that time it was either accept the unpaid position or apply for the next year’s matching program when I would be a better candidate (per Match standards – see our posts on the Match and check our ebook for more information).
Plus, keep in mind this position was only possible because of my performance while I was at Washington State University. I was deemed capable when compared with other internship candidates by the faculty and things moved on from there. Do not think that it happened because it was “free labor” or that you can simply obtain unpaid positions if you are independently wealthy. You’ll always have to prove what you’re worth before something like this happens.
6. Not matching is not the end of the world
Many current board-certified specialists did not match for their internship/residency the first time they applied. The Match is not a perfect system and sometimes really good applicants go unmatched.
7. Our profession comes with a lot of stress
And it is up to each one of us to find ways to manage it and other conditions that will arise. Make sure to check these blog posts: Compassion Fatigue and the Challenges and Struggles of being a Veterinarian Part 1 and Part 2. Also, head on to our curated resources page with additional tools for your wellbeing. Raising awareness to these issues is one of our main goals. We as a profession need to come up with ways to improve our own quality of life!
8. There are many international veterinarians training to be specialists in the US
Being a foreign national and not having the ECFVG or PAVE does not mean pursuing advanced training is impossible. There are many more hurdles, but it can be done! We have a whole chapter on our eBook for international applicants and a blog post as well: Can I apply through the VIRMP as a foreign educated student/veterinarian?
9. If you’re not sure which specialty you want to pursue (or if you want to pursue it to begin with), don’t apply just yet. You want to be certain that you really want what you’re applying to and that it will be a good fit for you!
10. Medical errors will happen, no matter where you are in your career.
And when they do, you must learn from them so that you don’t make them ever again! Plus, you need to disclose them. Both in the medical record and to the pet parent. Luckily, most of the time these have no consequences to the patient, but that’s not to say that it’s alright to be lax about mistakes – even small ones!
11. No matter where you are in your career, learning is an active process. Make the most of it and learn as much as you can from your mentors!
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