I had an interesting discussion with a colleague a few weeks ago, which I viewed with both concern and a little sadness. We were discussion our children, and their professional aspirations. He expressed relief that his kids had no interest in veterinary medicine as a career. While he is a successful practice owner, he was happy that his daughters wouldn’t have to slog through years of college only to be weighted down with debt, graduate with pay lower that most other medical professions, and be increasingly under-respected by the general public.
That conversation made me step back a moment and think. I would be proud if my daughter decided to follow in my footsteps (although highly unlikely!), but I must admit to discouraging some other starry-eyed youths from entering this field. Whether you are a DVM or CVT, veterinary medicine can make harsh demands–mentally, physically, and time-related. And, the benefits are often not as tangible as with other professions. You must truly love what you do to maintain a veterinary career over many decades. Even then there is attrition, especially with technicians.
What causes us to lose our spark? Many members of the veterinary profession are active and involved into their “retirement years”. However, others drift away from veterinary medicine, never to return, or simply stay in a position that has become just a job because they can’t or don’t want to start over in a new field. I don’t anticipate this situation improving with more graduates and more debt, unless we find a way to keep these bright and enthusiastic young professionals engaged. Hopefully the innovative people who comprise our profession can find ways to share ideas regarding this situation, and keep veterinarians and technicians vibrant and optimistic contributors to veterinary medicine—for life!