One of the significant philosophical things that distinguish most veterinarians that I know is their desire to help. Most of us knew going into this line of work was fraught with potential hardships: 1) our employment depends in a large part on our own ability to create a job for ourselves, 2) our profession is the perennial low-earner of all professions by a wide margin with some of the highest overhead, 3) to enter the profession requires most to have 7-10 years of exceedingly expensive education, 4) our debt:earnings ratio has been climbing annually with no change in site, 5) running a private business requires extensive business acumen which veterinarians get no formal training in, 6) the market-place we work in is a hostile and very competitive place with very large players entering into the fray (i.e. Walmart, Superstore and other “big box” stores) making it an even more impersonal and mean-spirited place. Despite this, the vets I know personally forge on. Why? Because most of us have a combination of the following: 1) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, 2) overachieving type-A personalities, 3) an innate love of animals and wildlife and 4) an abiding, deep desire to help people and their animals.
When I started Valley Veterinary Services almost 20 years ago, I did so in a bit of a naïve fog. Despite the blows that the “school of hard-knocks” has dealt out, I am exceedingly proud of what this practice has become. Our clients seem to be quite fond of us and we have a truly state-of-the-art facility. No other practice has the equipment and capabilities that we have save for some large group or specialty practices. Why did I insist on having such an expensively equipped facility? There was no way to provide the kind of service that I wanted to provide without this equipment. So when a sick pet comes to us, we are able to diagnose the problems at hand as quickly as is possible and thus alleviate suffering and distress (for the pet and their human) as quickly as is possible. And we have great, highly trained staff that all work to achieve the end goal of improving the lives of patients and their people.
For me (and the colleagues that I know personally) this thing we do called veterinary medicine is more about the helping than it is about any other thing. The good feelings that this leaves us with at the end of the day makes the rocky road that we get to navigate daily more than worth it and makes me look forward to “going to work” every single day.
Posted by: Dr. Mark Steinebach