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Help - I'm a qualified vet and I need some advice watch

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    Hi team,

    I know most of you will be applying or in vet school (well done!) but occassionally when I lurked on here when I was applying there was some qualified vets floating about, so if anyone can shed some light on a few things I would appreciate it.

    I don't want to be all doom and gloom for you budding young vets, but I am a 2015 graduate and if I'm being completely honest I'm fed up and not really enjoying being a practising vet. I have nothing really to complain about - I have the dream first job at my foster practice (12 vets, 100% small animal, one night a week on call and 1/4 Friday nights on call, Saturday consulting) who are all lovely and supportive. However, I absolutely dread being on call, it ruins the weekend before, and I resent my friends who don't have to do it. We're excruciatingly busy at the moment, it's been brutal for months and I'm sick of it. I also have no career plans and the idea of not knowing what I want to do (after 15 years of planning on becoming a vet) is terrifying.

    I was just wondering whether anyone on here has any advice about alternative careers within the profession e.g. working in industry/government etc because this isn't something I know anything about. I can't imagine committing to a certificate because I don't enjoy anyone aspect enough to focus most of my time on that. It's got to the point where I'm considering alternative careers altogether which seems a massive shame and a waste, and without having this identity as a vet I don't reeeeally know who I am.

    This probably isn't the right place for this, so sorry if I've upset/depressed anyone who is all excited about going to vet school!

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by Ivy14)
    However, I absolutely dread being on call, it ruins the weekend before, and I resent my friends who don't have to do it. We're excruciatingly busy at the moment, it's been brutal for months and I'm sick of it.
    I hated being on call too. My heart used to race when my work phone started ringing and always struggled to sleep.

    For me personally it all got a bit easier with experience (ie; better telephone triage of cases, handling cases better/quicker/more efficiently, etc) but those feelings never went away, even after 18+ months of experience. A large part of my "anxieties" stemmed from a complete lack of support with no experienced vets to rely on and no nursing support (but you do not seem to have that problem!).

    For me preparing for a weekend on call by stocking up the fridge with microwave meals and having a stack of new DVDs to watch made things slightly more comfortable whenever I had a brief break.

    ---

    Focus on the basics:

    Are you still enjoying your job?
    Are you still learning?
    Are you having more good days than bad?

    If it is just the on call then I would say hang in there. If not or the on call is making you that stressed and that unhappy then I would advise moving jobs (ie; to one with even less OOH or none at all).

    Even with just 12 months experience you shouldn't have too many issues finding another job without OOH if you are willing to move.

    Depending upon how you look at it the whole concept of being "on call" is exploitative, its an outdated way of practices covering their own OOH and/or unsociable hours without paying their staff any extra. It also isn't necessarily in the best interests of animal welfare (ie; stressed and sleep deprived vet trying to manage a case while under time pressure to go out on another visit).

    I personally would never go back to doing OOH unless I was a dedicated OOH vet (ie; proper nursing support, generous remuneration for the unsociable hours) or there was a "bonus" scheme in place (ie; receiving a proportion of the OOH charge or overall takings) which some practices are starting to adopt. The insane weekend on call then starts to become a "good" thing as it then pays for a nice weekend away when you next get some time off.

    Of course a lot of business owners are against this concept as it cuts into their profits!

    I also have no career plans and the idea of not knowing what I want to do (after 15 years of planning on becoming a vet) is terrifying.

    I was just wondering whether anyone on here has any advice about alternative careers within the profession e.g. working in industry/government etc because this isn't something I know anything about. I can't imagine committing to a certificate because I don't enjoy anyone aspect enough to focus most of my time on that. It's got to the point where I'm considering alternative careers altogether which seems a massive shame and a waste, and without having this identity as a vet I don't reeeeally know who I am.
    Bear in mind that the grass is always greener, every job has its good and its bad days. None are perfect.

    Focus on what attracted you to the profession in the first place and what sort of lifestyle you want. Then base your job choices and career aspirations on that.

    If you enjoy clinical practice and the issue is your current working environment then you need to find a better job in small animal practice, not jump into an industry/government/teaching job. If you want to earn serious amounts of money you need to look at owning your own practice, becoming a diplomat or leaving the profession entirely.
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    I agree entirely with the above post. I'm an equine vet and when I first qualified I used to dread those OOH calls. I was entirely on my own after my second weekend on call as a new grad. It was really tough and so much for those promises of support when I joined my first practice. I also never found OOH to be the most endearing of weekends even after many years of experience. I think a lot of the stress is down to client pressure. After having worked in practice, I worked in research (50% office/50% clinical). The organisation I worked for owned the horses I was treating and I really felt the OOH pressure totally disappear. I thoroughly enjoyed this environment but the job I was in did not hold much promise in the long term in advancing in my career, although I did my cert whilst I was there.

    I moved, now live abroad, still work in the equine world as vet advisor in an office based role and I thoroughly enjoy it! It's far more varied than any of my practice jobs were. Although I still work long hours and it has its frustrations at times, I get better paid than practice owner/diplomat etc, have a fabulous working environment, work conditions, great colleagues, world wide business trips and my evenings, nights & weekends are never disturbed by a ringing phone and neither do I check emails.

    Since your practice is so busy, if you feel the workload during regular hours is really wearing you down, do consider a change. It's not worth risking your mental health or a burnout. If you feel that OOH is stressing you to the extent of wrecking the weekends when you're not on call, I would support considering a role with no OOH. Maybe a smaller practice could be worth considering too?

    If you make a change to a new practice but than feel practice is not for you, there are many other roles to consider: government, pharmaceutical & nutrition industries, welfare advisory roles for charities and organisations, education (vet, vet nursing, related animal sciences), scientific research centres, academia, public health, epidemiology, OIE quarantine, regulation etc.. There are also international organisations in related areas e.g. FAO, UN.

    I would suggest keeping an eye out in the Vet Record for the feature at the back which spotlights on careers. Maybe even contact some of these people and have a chat to them. I would never have thought I would end up in my role and it was only through keeping an open mind, chatting away to people and being a bit nosy!

    I hope all works out well for you. I'm sure you will find your niche. The vet degree is very versatile and the sky's the limit!
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    If OOH is giving you problems, then look to move on somewhere without it and see how you enjoy that. I hate OOH but being only a year out am willing to put up with it for now to get what experience I can... for now. Plus, I've got a decent number of clients requesting me for their farm work now and working with them reminds me how much I enjoy my job during regular hours lol.

    I'd agree it's by no means in the interests of the patients. This week I ended up doing Monday night, which wasn't too busy, and Wednesday night, which was manic. I managed to eat my lunch Wednesday, but bar a couple of chocolate bars that was it for the day. Come Thursday evening I was about ready to quit. I'd had 2 hours sleep Wednesday night and was on my own for all the ops during the day Thursday, during which I was a liability.

    I'll give it another 6 months and then maybe move on if I'm not happy on balance as some days can be great. I'm quite keen on doing a PhD and going down a completely different career path has been something I'd be considering since 4th year of vet school but figured I had to give practice a go at least...

    If you're sick of it though then you need to think of yourself and do what makes you happy. Life's too short to screw up your mental health and relationships with those around you for the sake of a job when there's plenty of other things you are more than capable of doing.
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    (Original post by ouchthathurts)
    If OOH is giving you problems, then look to move on somewhere without it and see how you enjoy that. I hate OOH but being only a year out am willing to put up with it for now to get what experience I can... for now. Plus, I've got a decent number of clients requesting me for their farm work now and working with them reminds me how much I enjoy my job during regular hours lol.

    I'd agree it's by no means in the interests of the patients. This week I ended up doing Monday night, which wasn't too busy, and Wednesday night, which was manic. I managed to eat my lunch Wednesday, but bar a couple of chocolate bars that was it for the day. Come Thursday evening I was about ready to quit. I'd had 2 hours sleep Wednesday night and was on my own for all the ops during the day Thursday, during which I was a liability.

    I'll give it another 6 months and then maybe move on if I'm not happy on balance as some days can be great. I'm quite keen on doing a PhD and going down a completely different career path has been something I'd be considering since 4th year of vet school but figured I had to give practice a go at least...

    If you're sick of it though then you need to think of yourself and do what makes you happy. Life's too short to screw up your mental health and relationships with those around you for the sake of a job when there's plenty of other things you are more than capable of doing.
    You a farm vet or a mixed vet just out of interest?
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    Mixed, but majority farm work at the moment.
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    (Original post by ouchthathurts)
    If OOH is giving you problems, then look to move on somewhere without it and see how you enjoy that. I hate OOH but being only a year out am willing to put up with it for now to get what experience I can... for now. Plus, I've got a decent number of clients requesting me for their farm work now and working with them reminds me how much I enjoy my job during regular hours lol.
    I do have this too during the day, which is nice, but I feel more like they're coming to me for a friendly chat and I enjoy imparting my clinical knowledge, but I've totally lost enthusiasm for surgery (I hate it) so consulting is about the only bit of my job I still enjoy. Which, given I'm also only a year out, is pretty disastrous. I'm worried about moving on elsewhere and not being able to be that useful/that good in a new job because my surgical skills are behind where they should be and because I feel guilty about leaving my foster practice. So I feel stuck!

    (Original post by ponyvet)
    I moved, now live abroad, still work in the equine world as vet advisor in an office based role and I thoroughly enjoy it! It's far more varied than any of my practice jobs were. Although I still work long hours and it has its frustrations at times, I get better paid than practice owner/diplomat etc, have a fabulous working environment, work conditions, great colleagues, world wide business trips and my evenings, nights & weekends are never disturbed by a ringing phone and neither do I check emails.

    If you make a change to a new practice but than feel practice is not for you, there are many other roles to consider: government, pharmaceutical & nutrition industries, welfare advisory roles for charities and organisations, education (vet, vet nursing, related animal sciences), scientific research centres, academia, public health, epidemiology, OIE quarantine, regulation etc.. There are also international organisations in related areas e.g. FAO, UN.

    I would suggest keeping an eye out in the Vet Record for the feature at the back which spotlights on careers. Maybe even contact some of these people and have a chat to them. I would never have thought I would end up in my role and it was only through keeping an open mind, chatting away to people and being a bit nosy!

    I hope all works out well for you. I'm sure you will find your niche. The vet degree is very versatile and the sky's the limit!
    This is so helpful, thank you so much. What you describe sounds like something I'd be very interested in but I'm guessing you had to have your cert qualifications to get to that kind of work? I have mentioned this to my parents but they think (and I can't disagree with them) that with only a year in practice I'd never have enough experience to make a move into a more advisory/less clinical role, so do you know of any of your friends/people who graduated when you did who are no longer in practice and when they moved? Sadly we don't get the vet record at work but I found out you can look at the jobs section online so I spent some time doing that the other day.

    (Original post by ch0c0h01ic)
    I personally would never go back to doing OOH unless I was a dedicated OOH vet (ie; proper nursing support, generous remuneration for the unsociable hours) or there was a "bonus" scheme in place (ie; receiving a proportion of the OOH charge or overall takings) which some practices are starting to adopt. The insane weekend on call then starts to become a "good" thing as it then pays for a nice weekend away when you next get some time off.
    I think maybe I am complaining too much - I do get £30 for every call I see after 10pm so at least when I am up all night I get paid a little extra for it. But I worry now that I'm not getting enough enjoyment out of the daytime to make up for being stressed and feeling alone and out of control all night.

    I think you guys are all correct, I probably need to stick it out for a bit and then consider moving to a job with no OOH and see whether I enjoy that more. I really don't want to turn my back on all this hard work but I do wonder if I should have done another degree entirely. Good to know it isn't just me having all these wobbles!
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    Not that it helps but I'm a trainee vet nurse (sort of, it's complicated) and I do two nights on call and every 3rd saturday. I know exactly how you feel when you say you dread them - I literally don't sleep and constantly exhausted. I just wanted you to know somebody else feels the same as you
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    (Original post by Ivy14)
    This is so helpful, thank you so much. What you describe sounds like something I'd be very interested in but I'm guessing you had to have your cert qualifications to get to that kind of work? I have mentioned this to my parents but they think (and I can't disagree with them) that with only a year in practice I'd never have enough experience to make a move into a more advisory/less clinical role, so do you know of any of your friends/people who graduated when you did who are no longer in practice and when they moved? Sadly we don't get the vet record at work but I found out you can look at the jobs section online so I spent some time doing that the other day.
    It's not necessary to have a cert, in fact there are quite a few vets with MBAs in industry but it's not a must. I don't have one although as a vet in industry I think you can easily get roped into a managerial role (as I did). Vets with people and office management skills are not easy to find. Vets are stereo-typically rubbish at handling paperwork. The work I do doesn't need x years of clinical practice, although some of the advisory roles do. In addition, practice experience is not always the stereotype though, I did practice in a clinical research environment which was great.

    There were a few from my year that left practice before 5 years of qualification. I was offered my current job 3 years before I started it, with only 3 years' experience. I turned down the offer because I had accepted another offer only days before. When the vacancy came up again the organisation phoned me to let me know. I applied again because I was ready to move on and it was a massive opportunity. After the second interview (of my second application) they called me back to the office a couple of hours later and offered me the job.
    Someone from my year, about 3yrs qualified just wrote to a nutrition company to asked if there were job vacancies and they made a position out of the request. Another spent less than 6mth in practice, did a PhD & now teaches animal/equine sciences. I also think there's someone working for one of the major drugs companies who was only a year or two qualified by the time they started.

    My advice is that if you discover practice is not for you, start exploring. You're not under any obligation to take any job that you're offered. If you feel it's not the right role for you, or a bit premature in your career don't take it. Interviews are for the candidate just as much as the employer. If people like you in interview or when you meet them, they remember. I'm involved in recruitment for my department and it's a nightmare. At our place, people that interview well, or do a good job at temp jobs etc get remembered & asked back. Network like crazy and chat to anyone and everyone to get a good feel for what's out there for you (I'm sorry I've no idea about the small animal world). The vet world is tiny and we're all connected by a lot less than 7 degrees of separation!
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    Also worth noting the number of vets in areas like research and industry are going to increase significantly with more vets qualifying. You wont be alone

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