Why I wanted to be a Veterinarian


Virtually every day, one of my Schuylkill County clients tell me their child wants to be a veterinarian or that‘s what the parent should have been. To the parent I say, it’s never too late, and to the child I say hurry up and help me out. But, the one thing I always think about is why I wanted to be a veterinarian. I always loved pets. Still do. But, I know loving pets is not enough. Before I started working at a veterinary clinic at age fifteen, I wanted to be a professional. A lawyer, maybe? But once I took the job and saw the variety of skills needed, in technical areas, knowledge and communications, I was sold and never looked back. Working with animals every day is a delight. But that is only part of the job.

Back when I was in college and was president of an active Pre-Vet club, only one of ten qualified applicants was admitted to vet school. Very competitive. One of the questions commonly asked in the interview process was “What will you do if you don’t get accepted into the program?”.  Honestly, I made up an answer. I didn’t have a backup plan. I never questioned the fact that I would make it. Another admissions question was “Why do you want to become a veterinarian?” Everybody knew the wrong answer was “because I love animals”. I think the admissions committees knew that love alone was not enough. It takes more than a love of animals to be a veterinarian. It takes an interest and fascination in all things related to animals. It takes a dedication to lifelong learning, an ability to focus on the task at hand and sometimes put emotions aside to do what is needed.

Every day, I am presented with a puzzle. My patients can’t talk. I depend on an owner’s observations and a thorough physical examination to tell me the pet’s story. Sometimes owners misinterpret what they see. I have to be able to figure that out. I need to prioritize what tests are indicated to help me with a diagnosis. It’s an art, not a science. On top of this, I want my patient and its owner to be comfortable with the process and decisions.

Are there days I wish I had gone to law school? Yep, there are. It’s not too late, but, I choose to stay in a profession that brings me challenges and joy. I could do other things for a living and still love pets. I think I would miss the variety and the problem solving. For now, I’ll continue with what I do, try to do some good, and love the pets in my life.


Illustration courtesy of wiley asia blog via Flickr