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I hear it all the time: “I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but I couldn’t go through with it because [fill in the blank].”
This shouldn’t surprise you. After all, my readers and my very best clients — super pet people, in other words — are among the most likely to have considered my profession at some point.
Indeed, this expression is so common that I often wonder why, with so many vet voyeurs out there, more didn’t apply to veterinary school.
Here are the top six reasons I hear from people who try to explain why they never went through with a career in veterinary medicine:
This is, by far, the most common reason I’m regaled with by way of explanation — yet no one ever has to euthanize an animal to become a veterinarian. Performing euthanasia is neither required for graduation nor a necessary part of practice. If you’re a radiologist, for example, you can have an amazing career without having to even witness euthanasia.
Although, admittedly, it would be impossible to avoid the concept entirely. During the course of your education, you may find yourself in a room where this procedure is taking place.
Allergies are the second most common reason I’m offered. This was actually one of my personal reasons. For a long time, I couldn’t hold a cat without sneezing — a problem that worsened considerably in my late teens and early 20s. Somehow, it resolved itself after I gave birth to my son. Why, I’ll never know, but it's a good thing that I decided to rebel against my body and go to vet school, anyway.
Of course, not everyone can do that. Nonetheless, plenty of vet students with allergies to certain kinds of animals make it through every year. And now that so many schools offer programs to accommodate specialties in more hands-off fields, like clinical pharmacology and pathology, it’s getting easier for those with allergies to endure an education in animal medicine.
This is actually a very good reason if you’re interested in treating patients. Believe it or not, most of a clinical veterinarian’s work requires good people skills. That is, unless you head off into veterinary research or writing, which is easily doable.
This is a decent reason, too. Not being able to treat treatable patients because of money issues can be frustrating. And economic euthanasia kills me. The inequity of it all is a serious buzz kill in my line of work.
Some individuals say that they can't handle guts and gore — yet I find that most people can get used to it.
Not being good at math and/or science is a pretty good reason. But I still think that a significant percentage of people who offer this rationale are more than capable of getting through the grind if they really, truly want it.
Check out more opinion pieces on Vetstreet.
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