The Student Room Group

Veterinary Medicine/ Vet work-life balance

I have heard that vets have a horrible work-life balance and are overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, does anyone have an input on this as this is the only con to this career for me however I don't want to be miserable for the rest of my life and some people have made it out that all vets regret doing it etc
Vet med is definitely a career that you really have to love in order to succeed. As you say, there is horrible work-life balance and we are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. This is all evidenced by the retention crisis occurring in the profession. I saw a statistic recently that showed the average new grad vet lasts 6 years in the profession before leaving. Additionally, veterinary surgeons have the highest suicide rate of any other career. The work is stressful - as with all healthcare professions. But the clients can be awful and hurtful. Many do not understand that you are on their side and will accuse you of only wanting their money etc. People will blame you if they cannot afford medical care for their pets.

Are things improving? Ehh... Work-life balance is getting a bit better as 4 day working weeks for vets are becoming common, however you may still find that you regularly have to stay behind after your shift finishes. Pay is ever so slightly creeping up due to the shortage of vets, however this isn't by much at all and you can still only expect to get paid £30-60k in general practice (not great considering you do similar work to a doctor and have high work stresses and risks, alongside out-of-hours shifts).


Does this mean you shouldn't be a vet? I don't know. It depends on who you are.
For me, I acknowledge that I am going into a stressful, underpaid career. But it's worth it because I get to help animals and their humans daily, and contribute to society in a meaningful way. I also just love the job: communicating with owners, working up a case, the problem solving. I can't imagine myself doing anything else, no matter how hard it is.
As a vet student, I am constantly building my hobbies and assessing my work-life balance, to ensure that when I start work as a vet I will be able to focus on my mental health and (hopefully) be more resilient when facing these problems with the career. I also know that if I get burnt-out, a veterinary degree is highly useful in many other industries and research, should I wish for a career change, or some time away from clinical practice.

One of the biggest problems at the moment is people entering the vet course with rose-tinted glasses, not quite understanding what they're getting into. By asking questions like these, you're doing the right thing to prepare yourself.

P.S. not all vets regret the job. I know quite a few who love it. :smile:
Original post by louisvbird
Vet med is definitely a career that you really have to love in order to succeed. As you say, there is horrible work-life balance and we are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. This is all evidenced by the retention crisis occurring in the profession. I saw a statistic recently that showed the average new grad vet lasts 6 years in the profession before leaving. Additionally, veterinary surgeons have the highest suicide rate of any other career. The work is stressful - as with all healthcare professions. But the clients can be awful and hurtful. Many do not understand that you are on their side and will accuse you of only wanting their money etc. People will blame you if they cannot afford medical care for their pets.

Are things improving? Ehh... Work-life balance is getting a bit better as 4 day working weeks for vets are becoming common, however you may still find that you regularly have to stay behind after your shift finishes. Pay is ever so slightly creeping up due to the shortage of vets, however this isn't by much at all and you can still only expect to get paid £30-60k in general practice (not great considering you do similar work to a doctor and have high work stresses and risks, alongside out-of-hours shifts).


Does this mean you shouldn't be a vet? I don't know. It depends on who you are.
For me, I acknowledge that I am going into a stressful, underpaid career. But it's worth it because I get to help animals and their humans daily, and contribute to society in a meaningful way. I also just love the job: communicating with owners, working up a case, the problem solving. I can't imagine myself doing anything else, no matter how hard it is.
As a vet student, I am constantly building my hobbies and assessing my work-life balance, to ensure that when I start work as a vet I will be able to focus on my mental health and (hopefully) be more resilient when facing these problems with the career. I also know that if I get burnt-out, a veterinary degree is highly useful in many other industries and research, should I wish for a career change, or some time away from clinical practice.

One of the biggest problems at the moment is people entering the vet course with rose-tinted glasses, not quite understanding what they're getting into. By asking questions like these, you're doing the right thing to prepare yourself.

P.S. not all vets regret the job. I know quite a few who love it. :smile:

Thank you so much for your reply, I’m quite similar in that I couldn’t imagine myself doing much else and I think I have many hobbies and sports etc that make me love life even more and couldn’t imagine not doing them. The 4 day week is defo something I would consider if I become a vet. From the work experience I have done I loved every second of it but a lot of the vets in the clinics said ‘if you have any other interests then go for those interests’ which I thought was fair enough but also strange. I just want to be prepared going into it as I know it is going to be difficult, but like for me before going into a levels for example everyone in the year above me told me not to do the subjects I chose because they are so difficult and will ruin my life etc, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them as I love my a levels and sixth form life. So I don’t want to just listen to the people telling me not to as I think I will regret it but I also don’t want to go into a career knowing I may be miserable (a bit extreme but u get it ) 😂
Original post by Milliewest2
Thank you so much for your reply, I’m quite similar in that I couldn’t imagine myself doing much else and I think I have many hobbies and sports etc that make me love life even more and couldn’t imagine not doing them. The 4 day week is defo something I would consider if I become a vet. From the work experience I have done I loved every second of it but a lot of the vets in the clinics said ‘if you have any other interests then go for those interests’ which I thought was fair enough but also strange. I just want to be prepared going into it as I know it is going to be difficult, but like for me before going into a levels for example everyone in the year above me told me not to do the subjects I chose because they are so difficult and will ruin my life etc, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them as I love my a levels and sixth form life. So I don’t want to just listen to the people telling me not to as I think I will regret it but I also don’t want to go into a career knowing I may be miserable (a bit extreme but u get it ) 😂


I don’t have much to add to the reply above, but perhaps vets saying that are to make sure you really do want this life and are prepared for it. Like, no matter how much anyone could tell me things like that, I’d still have chosen the career, which may mean we do properly want it and aren’t looking at it through rose tinted glasses. I think only you can make the decision, some sacrifices may have to be made, occasionally I struggle with the “why am I doing this” as a vet student dealing with the course stress (mostly around exams) but like now I am on a clinical placement I know why - it’s an 8:30am-7pm day and it went by so fast, and I was so excited for every next case we were seeing. If it’s right for you, don’t let people put you off, I’ve also spoken to a lot of vets that absolutely do love their job.
Completely agree with Ramble. Especially, "If it's right for you, don't let people put you off." - but you do need to ensure that it is right for you first.


Keep doing your work experience placements and reflect on what the vet actually does and how much time they spend typing up notes and talking to tricky clients, compared to just the animal handling stuff. If you're still doing A Levels, you can still research other careers you might be interested in. It won't count against you and it's best that you make an informed decision about what you're getting into!

And if after all that you still truly want to be a vet, my main advice would be:
Get your support system in place now. Surround yourself with supportive, understanding people. Make time for your hobbies now. Make it routine to do things you love and step away from studying. That way, by the time you are a vet (or vet student!) and have a stressful day, you will already have the tools you need to cope.


I hope this helps. Good luck with your journey. :smile:
(edited 11 months ago)

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending