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Need Some Advice..

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by abr, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. abr

    abr
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    Hello,

    I am faced with an extremely difficult decision at the moment.

    I cannot decide if I should continue on my path towards veterinary school, or if I should instead go to medical school.

    Ever since I was young, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. Animals (horses in particular) consume my life, and I am extremely dedicated to them.
    I have been receiving my undergraduate education, but recently I am having doubts.
    If this was a perfect world, veterinarians would earn a higher salary, and I would have no concerns.
    See, I am not in this for the money, but money IS important.
    I want to be able to live a comfortable lifestyle, and I want to be able to enjoy the things I love. Horses are my main passion, and I am an avid competitor. I haul to competitions most weekends, and I am very dedicated to the equestrian sport. I am afraid that I will not have enough time (OR money) to continue to haul/compete and enjoy my OWN horses.
    I know equine veterinarians do not make much, but I just do not have the passion for small animals.
    I love medicine, and always have, so I am now considering the (human) medical route. I am good with people and have contributed much time to community service projects. But, my passion is working with animals. I just do not want to have to give up the things that are so important to me.. I know this probably sounds selfish. I should have considered this before I started college, but this kind of thing does not really hit you until you have to start paying for things on your own.
    In either case (vet med or human med) I plan to specialize in surgery.
    I will complete my undergraduate studies, go to school (vet or med), and complete several MORE years (at least 4 or 5) to specializing in a surgical field. So, the schooling commitment is not of concern in either case.
    Although you have long hours in human medicine, the hours are often less than in vet med, especially if you are set up at a clinic where you can share on-call shifts.

    Anyone been in this situation?
    What did you decide?
    I am so puzzled and this is really eating away at me..
     
  2. Pennymare

    Pennymare Ohio State Class of 2011
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    Well, I can put in that many doctors also work long hours. My dad regularly works 8 am to 8-11 p.m. almost every week day. He is on call one week out of three. Work load and hours are probably affected by speciality, so you would have to check out specifics for surgery (and what type of surgeon).

    As for equine vets, it's true they work long hours. But if you are in a multiple vet practice, you can have a similiar on call schedule to human doctors.

    No one can tell you which you should pick. I know veterinarians who make time for the activities they want to be involved in, and I know doctors who never seem to be able to escape work. Veterinarians who choose to work in academia and universities may have the best deal---more of a 8-5 job.

    Of all health professions, you have picked two time consuming careers. It also really depends on specialities you're willing to consider... A surgeon will probably have to treat more patients while on call than a dermatologist will...
     
  3. mom2jnc

    mom2jnc UC Davis Class of 2011
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    I know the rumor is that equine vets don't make much money. However, equine vets that specialize can make a lucrative income but there is still an extreme time committment required. To be honest, it sounds like you want to earn decent money and make your own schedule but it's possible that neither vet med nor human med will fit these requirements. In the end, it's about what makes you happy. If competing with your horses and having the time and money for that lifestyle is what makes you happy, then you need to be in a profession that allows for that.

    Hope this makes sense & best of luck to you in your decision!
     
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  4. ShelterGirl

    ShelterGirl UC Davis SVM 2012
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    I have to second what Melissa said - do what will make you happy.

    Both careers will take a lot of time and hard work to achieve. Take it from me, if you pick something you aren't passionate about, all the money in the world won't make it better and you'll end up with the "I should have done this other thing" in the back of your mind all the time :)
     
  5. mistifical

    mistifical VMRCVM 2012
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    I will third what Melissa said - do what makes you happy. Either way, the next several years of your life may be rather busy, and you may or may not have much time to dedicate to your hobbies, including horses. If you can manage that, then great. However, I feel that in either field, you can eventually be able to set your own hours depending what type of practice you end up in.

    How long before you apply to school? You may even want to consider some other fields, maybe even nursing (I don't know if you'd want to be on that end of human medicine). I have a good friend who is a vet and said that if she could do it all over again... she wouldn't and she would have chosen nursing.

    Just a thought.

    I, too, considered human medicine. But since vet med has been what I've been working towards for so long and my interest in human med comes and goes, I decided to apply to vet school... if I didn't have any interviews (I had 1), I was going to consider applying to both vet and med schools the following year.

    Talk to some equine vets that you know and ask them about their hours, job satisfaction, if they could change anything, etc. Also ask some human surgeons those same questions if you are able to meet with someone.

    Good luck!
     
  6. wildfocus

    wildfocus DVM/PhD student
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    i've worked in both fields - as a hospice worker in india, a vet tech in a sa, and a program manager for a lab at a top school of medicinein the us - and had to make this decision too....

    i think the choice will become clearer if you start working in both fields - volunteer in a hospital with patients and work in an animal clinic where you treat more than horses.... you may find that you are better at one. and you may find role models who can show you how to make it all work.

    just a note about med school - adcomms there see through students just as much as in vet schools. if you don't have a passion for treating PEOPLE (not just the smarts or love of medicine), it may be a lot harder to get in...

    good luck! im sure you'll figure it out!
     
  7. OP
    OP
    abr

    abr
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    Thank you for all of your replies.

    I realize that both professions take a great deal of time, but I am trying to look at the end product and see how much time I will have.

    I just can't see myself in a field that does not involve medicine.. I know I could make more in another field and have more free time, but I just wouldn't WANT to do it..

    I LOVE animals and all aspects of veterinary medicine. I have worked with both large and small animals (prefer large animals / equine) and watched surgeries in both fields.

    There is no doubt that I would prefer to work with animals, but surgery is surgery, and I would not mind being a people surgeon.

    This is a hard decision for me.

    Anyone know the outlook for a veterinary surgeon who has SPECIALIZED? Are there jobs available? Is the pay decent?

    I don't need to have a lot of money.. I just need to be able to support myself and my horses (without being stressed about finances) and have enough time to enjoy them..

    Why can't I win the lotto?
    ;)
     
  8. puppydogtails

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    I figure, if you are a large animal vet, you've got one large horse ownership expense out of the way--at least that would be a plus. The way I figure it, and Melissa said a few posts back, if you can wake up EVERYDAY and say to yourself, "I like what I do," then you're doing the right thing. Surgery is surgery only if you care enough. What's the use in going into medicine if you're only minorly concerned with the outcome of your patient? I love medicine, but this is why I would never go into people medicine: I care more about making sick animals I don't know better than making sick people I don't know better. Forget about the practical stuff for just a minute and ask yourself where your heart truly lies. Everything else can fall in behind that later. Following your passion is what is truly important. If you love equestrian competition as much as you say you do, then you will find time for it no matter what career you choose. I say don't worry about that, because you will make it work one way or another. Make a decisive choice as to the job you'll be doing day in and day out for 12 hours/day. Good Luck! :)
     
  9. bellai

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    abr,

    Realize that unless you plan to pay for medical school with cash, you'd be graduating with a significant amount of debt. Yeah, you can make great money as a surgeon but, would you have time to actually spend it? And, wouldn't the bulk of it go towards trying to repay the costs of your education anyway?

    I met a surgeon on a flight recently who thought that students aspiring to become surgeons/doctors was sort of foolish from a personal survival standpoint. The lesson from him was that you shouldn't pursue human medicine for the money.

    A friend of ours is a pain specialist (he doesn't see patients anymore unless it's for research) and he says that he doesn't want his own children to go into medicine because of the liability, hastle, etc. His words were "it just isn't fun anymore."

    So, take money out of the equation. Horses or people?

    I hope this was a little helpful...
     
  10. bellai

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    By the way, surgery isn't really surgery when it's a person versus an animal. Yes, it would really suck to lose an animal you were trying to save but, losing a human life brings a whole host of other problems.
     
  11. mistifical

    mistifical VMRCVM 2012
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    Because you never buy tickets?:idea:
     
  12. OP
    OP
    abr

    abr
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    LOL.
    Actually, I do buy tickets.. In hopes that I will win..
    :(

    I think I am going to stick with vet med.. It is what I love, and it is a passion of mine. Hopefully if I work hard enough, I will be able to earn enough to support my horse addiction.
    I just don't have that passion for people as I do for animals, so I don't think I could make it as far in the human medical world.
    I really am obsessed with horses and vet med, and I absorb as much info as I can. I usually diagnose my own animals before the vet even gets there..
    I know I would enjoy the veterinary field, and I really shouldn't throw away my passion and hopes just to make more money. In the end, I probably would not be happy in human medicine, and the money would not be worth it.
     
  13. Pigsfoot

    Pigsfoot Illinois Class of 2014!
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    Abr,

    you can make good money as a veterinary surgeon-i am also interested in that route, and out of curiosity i check the job postings on the AVMA board every now and then-i saw a job posted for a board certified veterinary surgeon job for a small animal surgical clinic, and the salary was $150k. If you were able to find a specialty clinic specific for surgery in an area where there are many show horses, etc-i bet the pay would be good there too. So if money is a concern-you can make it in veterinary surgery-it just may take more time. it sounds like you really love horses-you should stick with that!
     
  14. TurboVet

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    abr,
    One thing I've seen in my experience is that you can have the schedule you want to make as a veterinary surgeon- it just takes up until you're about 55, and you can just come in to do surgeries. Sometimes, you can also not work in one practice but travel between practices to conduct multiple orthopedic surgeries. The vet i worked for wasn't even board certified- he had just done a ton of ortho work and had acquired a reputation as a surgeon, and therefore got referrals because he was cheaper than a board-cert'd surgeon. sometimes it doesn't matter to a client what board-cert is, and you might be able to reduce costs by working in a rural area doing more surgeries.
     
  15. TurboVet

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    abr, i'm also in a similar boat- not the same one at all. I have 2 degrees and two complete fields of interest. I love vet med and I love comedy. and I've worked for tv shows, and love sketch comedy writing and have tons of friends in the industry. right now, i'm wrestling with 2 very distinct fields and work environments and deciding what the hell i want to do- because i certainly can't work full time at both. but i honestly can't make the decision. i don't want to go straight to vet med without trying to make it somewhere in comedy because i'll always say "what if", but i don't want to throw away the last 7 years of work toward vet med either, esp. since i actually got in somewhere this year.

    any thoughts about that one would be appreciated!
     

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