Day in the life of
Veterinarian – Shadi Ireifej, DVM DACVS
As is true with any other profession, being a veterinarian carries its pros and cons. It is often hailed as a rewarding and honest career, requiring a diligent work ethic and a compassionate heart for an individual to be successful. Over my 15 years as a veterinarian, having taken on many different roles, it has been my good fortune to know what is entailed on a day-to-day basis, as well as what the culture as a whole has morphed into overtime.
Perhaps the most common remark made by veterinarians regarding their workday is the enormous variety involved. No single day is the same. Every appointment will be different, any kind of species may show up with any kind of ailment, and the only consistent feature with any given day is that it be both exciting and exhausting. The day will also depend on the clinic setting; emergency hospital, speciality hospital, general practice clinic, and televeterinarian all have different daily routines and functions. In general, we begin our mornings reviewing the status of hospitalized patients, check messages left by pet owners from after-hours/overnights, and then hit the ground running with appointments and walk-in emergencies. The day may involve a sprinkling of surgical procedures, which are fit in-between appointments. A variety of tests will be run, phone calls will be made, and medications dispensed. Lives will be saved and lives will be lost. The goals of the day are to take care of our pets, ensure clients are satisfied, and complete the day in an efficient manner all while maintaining a healthy, positive work environment.
The pros of being a veterinarian are obvious. We make a difference in the lives of pets and pet parents every single day. We save lives, treat ailments, and prevent potential future diseases. We educate clients, educate the public and educate our support staff. We give a voice to the voiceless while also healing our human clients through their pets. The day is an adventure filled with highs and lows, a true professional roller coaster. We can diagnose conditions utilizing the most fundamental tools at hand. We can end suffering through euthanasia. We are admired by the community for making it through many years of rigorous training and being able to tackle a variety of species with different diseases. Perhaps the most common profession sought after by children is the veterinarian; there is something about it that resonates with everyone, including the very young.
The cons of being a veterinarian may not be so obvious. Our suicide rates continue to rise. Compassion fatigue is a real paralyzing dilemma for our staff. Pet owners self-diagnosing and self-treating their pets, claiming that veterinarians are money-hungry and writing scorning negative reviews online are all taking a huge emotional toll on veterinarians and their staff. Veterinarians are highly prone to be reported to the veterinary medical board or taken to court for unpaid client invoices. Doctors and their staff stay hours past their shift ends because of high caseloads, enormous amounts of paperwork, and understaffing issues. The profession is void of sound leadership, expedient veterinary medical board responses to the cultural toxicity, and emotional support. We have been killing our own profession for decades from the inside.
In conclusion, the obvious beauty of the veterinary progression is stifled by its more obscure ugliness. It is a respectful profession with life-changing implications, all the while being without support to increasingly negative cultural toxicity that has been known for years. As much as it is marveled at, it needs help. And the help it needs is time-sensitive. This is not meant to deter young people from becoming vets; on the contrary. Awareness is the goal. Tackle this field and make it your own. Take care of it. We are in need of new insight by young people, to challenge the staleness and complacency that has plagued it for far too long.
diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.