Becoming a Veterinarian

Masters at Work
by Boris Kachka

Little book packed with stuff. Kind of an overview about what it takes to be a vet, it follows several different veterinarians through what led them to the career, how they got into vet school and fulfilled their on-the-job training, what motivates or discourages them, what keeps them going- including job switches when they start to face burnout. The author follows one rural vet to farm visits treating cattle- it\’s not at all like it was in the James Herriot books, he keeps pointing out. Then there\’s a day spent in a small animal practice, one in a busy city on a mobile spay/neuter unit providing low-cost services, another in an animal hospital ER, and a high tech specialty treatment center where innovative procedures are created. Kind of shows a little bit of everything- hectic working conditions, co-worker conflicts, difficulty with finances, managing owner\’s expectations and making decisions based on their ability to pay, long hours and stress. How veterinary medicine compares to the very similar work in human medical care- although the gap is closing in many ways (procedures available more and more for animals that used to be just for people), the pay certainly isn\’t. Some of the chapters- the one in the small animal practice in particular- felt very jumpy, abruptly moving from one moment to the next but it just shows how fast-paced that can be. I was surprised and pleased to read about how much animal care has improved in shelters across the country. It was also nice to see how many varied types of jobs are actually out there- some veterinarians end up working in public health or in education, not being hands-on with the animals. Some people enjoy the tension and challenge of a high-pressure environment like the ER, others find they like working at a slower pace and getting to know patients better at small local practices, or that they prefer the technical side of things, not being near animals at all. Of course there\’s a good number of very brief case studies in here, telling how the animals were treated- but mostly the book\’s intent was to give an honest look at the realities and options out there for work in the field nowadays, and I think it probably does a good job of that.

Borrowed from the public library, found browsing the shelves.

Rating: 3/5                  152 pages, 2019

One Response

  1. I wish this book had been around when I was in high school! I wanted to be a rural vet ala James Herriot! Thankfully I had the good fortune of talking to a few people who were vets or had planned on being vets and then changed to humans my first year of college. I think I would not have been very happy with my career if I had actually become a vet.

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