A challenging career

Being in the veterinary profession is challenging and can be tough:

  • We work long hours – without practical or emotional backup
  • We assess and understand complex, and often incomplete, clinical information and at the same time exercise considerable physical skills
  • We maintain a compassionate and professional attitude towards patients, clients and colleagues, at a level of efficiency which ensures an adequate income for ourselves and the practices we work in
  • Unfortunately, we sometimes work in poorly managed organisations – many veterinary practices are small businesses where the expertise is clinically focused, and managers may have limited management skills and a less than ideal level of understanding of the needs of the people in the veterinary team
  • We deal on a frequent basis with the physical and emotional distress of both patients and clients, often without emotional support for ourselves
  • We are often physically and psychologically isolated, and the profession can often seem to be highly competitive.
  • In our UK culture, clients (and also colleagues) are very willing to complain, but this is often not balanced by positive feedback and compliments.
  • Bureaucracy and changes in the rules can place us at risk, unless we are both up-to-date and vigilant
  • We are an independent lot and it’s difficult to ask for help or even see what help might be useful
  • The Emotional Paradox – To be a good vet we need an emotional involvement with our patients, but at the same time we need the ability to detach in order to survive emotionally
  • The Critical Paradox – As scientists, in order to learn from our mistakes, we need to be self-critical. On the other hand, high levels of self-criticism can lead to depression