Student_222
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So i know that vets work very hard, and there is a lot of on-call shifts evenings and weekends. I often hear people say vets work over 60 hours a week and that it is very tough (which i don't doubt it is!), however i was just wondering is this any different from any other top professions such as law, accounting, medicine etc...?
While working long hours wouldn;t put me off (it might be slightly easier if you enjoyed what you were doing), i do worry about things like the future- when i want to start a family how I will manage to work full time as a vet and raise children (or even have any form of social life!).
I often get asked "are you sure you want to do vet med? because you know you won;t have a social life, and you know it's incredibly tough" - to which i feel like i'm not sure anymore... i think i would love it and i couldn;t imagine doing any thing else but these toughts do make me consider...
But then i just wonder is it really any different from any other job? you have to work hard if you want to do well no matter what jobs you do right? quite often lawyers, accountants etc... also work 60 hours a week don't they (perhaps they are better paid)??? so would it not be better or slightly easier to work hard at a job you love? just wondering your thoughts
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ch0c0h01ic
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(Original post by Student_222)
So i know that vets work very hard, and there is a lot of on-call shifts evenings and weekends. I often hear people say vets work over 60 hours a week and that it is very tough (which i don't doubt it is!), however i was just wondering is this any different from any other top professions such as law, accounting, medicine etc...?
While working long hours wouldn;t put me off (it might be slightly easier if you enjoyed what you were doing), i do worry about things like the future- when i want to start a family how I will manage to work full time as a vet and raise children (or even have any form of social life!).
I often get asked "are you sure you want to do vet med? because you know you won;t have a social life, and you know it's incredibly tough" - to which i feel like i'm not sure anymore... i think i would love it and i couldn;t imagine doing any thing else but these toughts do make me consider...
But then i just wonder is it really any different from any other job? you have to work hard if you want to do well no matter what jobs you do right? quite often lawyers, accountants etc... also work 60 hours a week don't they (perhaps they are better paid)??? so would it not be better or slightly easier to work hard at a job you love? just wondering your thoughts
Ultimately it depends on your job and your employer.

If you work in a well run corporate practice you will probably work close to 40 hours/week (+/- 10-20%) whereas in a "traditional" independent practice with on call work and in patient checks you could easily work 60+ hours/week (in the past I had worked 90+ hours/week with a series of busy nights on call on top of day shifts).

EDIT: Be aware that working extra hours often does not equal more money! Most overtime done by vets is unpaid, and most employers will require you to opt out of the EU Working Time Directive as part of your contract. Some employers will offer a "bonus" scheme of sorts where vets working OOH or on call get a certain percentage (normally around 10%) of their revenue from callouts but this is rare!

One of the main issues is that veterinary work is incredibly variable.

I've worked at both ends of the spectrum, and even in a well run corporate practice there will regularly be days that you work over (ie; in patient transfers, late admission of critically unwell patient, behind on paperwork because of busy day). Equally in the past there were nights when I didn't get called out at all and didn't have any inpatients (bloody rare!).

Also bear in mind that because of this you will on occasion miss social and family events, and you will have to work at unsociable times! For example, last Autumn I missed 3 major family/social events (didn't go down too well with my partner at the time!) and I've had Xmas Eve off twice in the last 10 or so years (IIRC).

It is an incredibly demanding vocation but if you can't see yourself doing anything else, or being good at anything else, then I would say go for it - if you are in any doubt do yourself a favour and get more, more varied work experience.

---

Three of the greatest issues with veterinary science, compared to medicine or law, is remuneration, career progression and pension contributions. Within medicine especially (I can't really comment on law - beyond my level of expertise!) there are fairly rigid frameworks regarding career and salary progression, and more opportunities to pursue specialisms. There has been some work within the corporate sector to introduce salary bandings and career frameworks but it is far inferior to that offered by the NHS.

That is why a lot of experienced vets get disheartened, when after 5ish years they're approaching the 90+th percentile of what they can do and earn as a GP vet. Whereas if they were a doctor within the NHS they would probably be looking at specialism training, and significant progression in skillsbase and salary potential.

Also pension contributions within the veterinary sector are pretty poor (on par with statutory minimum), compared to that offered by public sector employees (eg; NHS). You will have to consider making additional pension contributions and/or getting financial advice fairly early in your career if you plan on retiring before the age of 68 and/or with some degree of comfort.
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Leydwrc
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well this was a depressing read, I'm sitting on a vet school start in 2021, starting at 30, leaving a near six figure corporate job (which is soul destroying in all fairness). I very much thought things had got better for all and hours and pay were improving
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Student_222
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(Original post by Leydwrc)
well this was a depressing read, I'm sitting on a vet school start in 2021, starting at 30, leaving a near six figure corporate job (which is soul destroying in all fairness). I very much thought things had got better for all and hours and pay were improving
Best of luck to you, I’m sure it’ll be great! Congrats on getting in. Every vet I’ve ever spoken to says it’s the best job in the world and they love it despite all that and wouldn’t want to do anything else!
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ch0c0h01ic
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(Original post by Leydwrc)
well this was a depressing read, I'm sitting on a vet school start in 2021, starting at 30, leaving a near six figure corporate job (which is soul destroying in all fairness). I very much thought things had got better for all and hours and pay were improving
What were you expecting career/salary/aspiration wise?

There's a lot of downward pressure by consumers regarding price, hence vet salaries haven't risen astronomically. In my own experience it's slightly above inflation, some years more, some years less.

Also the general public don't really value the work of GP vets (compared to human GPs for example), hence their salaries lag significantly behind other specialisms (eg; orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology). Human GPs are seen as specialists in their own right, however vets aren't given that distinction or paid accordingly (this isn't helped by the actions of some vets but that is a different story).
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Leydwrc
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(Original post by ch0c0h01ic)
What were you expecting career/salary/aspiration wise?

There's a lot of downward pressure by consumers regarding price, hence vet salaries haven't risen astronomically. In my own experience it's slightly above inflation, some years more, some years less.

Also the general public don't really value the work of GP vets (compared to human GPs for example), hence their salaries lag significantly behind other specialisms (eg; orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology). Human GPs are seen as specialists in their own right, however vets aren't given that distinction or paid accordingly (this isn't helped by the actions of some vets but that is a different story).
I absolutely accept this and understand this, perhaps I was naïve in thinking it wasn't as bad as some say, or by the time I got there it would have improved. I've seen owners treat vets very badly and sneer at their work, it's grossly unfair. I truly wish people were more willing to pay for their animals and realized the true cost of medicine. I lived in NY for 2 years and had a dog there - I even worked some experience in an animal hospital, people were much nicer to vets since they were used to forking out for healthcare!

Career wise - I would always want to specialize further down the line, for the sake of progress as much as for money. Salary wise I realize it'll never match a white collar manager+ role, but hearing vets earning 50-60k after 5-10years seems like a good salary to live off, especially since you don't have the need to be based in large cities. With fewer vets training, many drop outs and the rise of corporates, I hoped this would boost wages/working conditions through natural supply and demand. Again, perhaps I am being naiive.

Call this me having some doubts! Qualifying at 35, after paying privately for uni, to go back to a grad salary and awful hours seems illogical (even if the heart says otherwise - I have loved my work experience). I suppose I was hoping to see some positive change in the industry to look forward to, as opposed to much more of the same horror stories which drive so many vets away.

Is there anything more you can add so soothe my mind (or perhaps I'm in need of a harsh dose of reality..).

Cheers.
W
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ch0c0h01ic
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(Original post by Leydwrc)
I absolutely accept this and understand this, perhaps I was naïve in thinking it wasn't as bad as some say, or by the time I got there it would have improved. I've seen owners treat vets very badly and sneer at their work, it's grossly unfair. I truly wish people were more willing to pay for their animals and realized the true cost of medicine. I lived in NY for 2 years and had a dog there - I even worked some experience in an animal hospital, people were much nicer to vets since they were used to forking out for healthcare!
Unfortunately because of the NHS the majority of people have no concept of the cost of the healthcare, veterinary or human.

In addition to this the proliferation of medical and veterinary tv shows, while increasing engagement with the profession, does give a significant proportion of the public unrealistic expectations (ie; no mention of cost, little or no airtime dedicated to complicated cases/complications/financially limited cases).

Career wise - I would always want to specialize further down the line, for the sake of progress as much as for money. Salary wise I realize it'll never match a white collar manager+ role, but hearing vets earning 50-60k after 5-10years seems like a good salary to live off, especially since you don't have the need to be based in large cities.
50-60K after 5-10 years is doable but it certainly isn't the norm, especially if you're looking at working in a quiet rural or small town practice. You would have to think about management (ie; clinic director of large/successful practice) and/or specialising to some degree

With fewer vets training, many drop outs and the rise of corporates, I hoped this would boost wages/working conditions through natural supply and demand. Again, perhaps I am being naiive.
More vets are training now than ever. All the vet schools are maximising their intakes, Nottingham has just committed to a dual intake (effectively doubling their vet student numbers) and 2-3 new UK vet schools have been authorised.

If anything the increased corporatisation of practice has a downward pressure on wages (ie; fewer partnership opportunities, vet revenue has to subsidise corporate infrastructure, shareholders generally resist salary rises).

Call this me having some doubts! Qualifying at 35, after paying privately for uni, to go back to a grad salary and awful hours seems illogical (even if the heart says otherwise - I have loved my work experience). I suppose I was hoping to see some positive change in the industry to look forward to, as opposed to much more of the same horror stories which drive so many vets away.

Is there anything more you can add so soothe my mind (or perhaps I'm in need of a harsh dose of reality..).
A lot of dissatisfaction with the profession stems from working environment, which can be fixed relatively easily by finding another job, or thoroughly unrealistic expectations of what the job entails (ie; nature of work, hours, remuneration).

Focusing on job satisfaction, enjoying the people/work you do, continued development, etc are far healthier motivations, even if it means earning slightly less than you could elsewhere!

As long as I continue to enjoy what I do, and I'm earning or learning a little more year on year, I'm happy. Sure I could probably earn slightly more elsewhere, but I work with a particularly good team and a lot of the financial benefit would be offset with more commuting and less time with my family. OK I have missed a few family means or social events, but that was offset by helping my patients or colleagues (I know it's not the same but it's still bloody important to me and I have a lot of funny stories to tell).

Money is never a good motivation, and if it is the case you will never be happy regardless of what you do.

Feel free to PM me if you feel more comfortable about discussing things in greater detail.
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