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Hello everyone. I am very new to the whole veterinary scene. I am a freshman in college and have recently started considering becoming a vet. I have always been interested in medicine and I love animals so I feel like it would be a very good job for me. I just have a few questions about it. What is the lifestyle of a vet compared to that of a physician? And is the lifestyle of a general vet any different than the lifestyle of a vet specialist? Also I can not seem to find much info on salaries of vets so what is the average salary for a general and a specialist? I also am not sure if I could handle euthanasia so are there any specialties that do not do euthanasia? Thank you everyone who replies to this! I am very confused about what career to pursue so the answers to these questions will really help a lot.
 

MAD MIKE O7

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Hello everyone. I am very new to the whole veterinary scene. I am a freshman in college and have recently started considering becoming a vet. I have always been interested in medicine and I love animals so I feel like it would be a very good job for me. I just have a few questions about it. What is the lifestyle of a vet compared to that of a physician? And is the lifestyle of a general vet any different than the lifestyle of a vet specialist? Also I can not seem to find much info on salaries of vets so what is the average salary for a general and a specialist? I also am not sure if I could handle euthanasia so are there any specialties that do not do euthanasia? Thank you everyone who replies to this! I am very confused about what career to pursue so the answers to these questions will really help a lot.
Forst of all, welcome to the forum!

The average salary for a general practice small animal veterinarian in the US is around $88,000. If you own a successful practice you can make quite a bit more than that.

As far as how much specialists make... I can't really answer that one for you as it varies greatly by specialty. You won't specialize in veterinary school though, you will have to do an internship after getting your dvm and then become certified as a specialist.

Euthanasia is a part of the job and while it is difficult you will have to find a way to cope with it at least through veterinary school because several schools do terminal surgeries for teaching purposes. (Performing a surgery, waking the patient up, and then euthanizing)

I would highly recommend shadowing a vet for several days because I have seen several pre-vet students completely change their mind after seeing what it was like. It can be an incredibly rewarding field but it takes a special kind of person to do the job.

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DVMDream

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Forst of all, welcome to the forum!

The average salary for a general practice small animal veterinarian in the US is around $88,000. If you own a successful practice you can make quite a bit more than that.

As far as how much specialists make... I can't really answer that one for you as it varies greatly by specialty. You won't specialize in veterinary school though, you will have to do an internship after getting your dvm and then become certified as a specialist.

Euthanasia is a part of the job and while it is difficult you will have to find a way to cope with it at least through veterinary school because several schools do terminal surgeries for teaching purposes. (Performing a surgery, waking the patient up, and then euthanizing)

I would highly recommend shadowing a vet for several days because I have seen several pre-vet students completely change their mind after seeing what it was like. It can be an incredibly rewarding field but it takes a special kind of person to do the job.

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Patients for terminal surgeries are not woken up, they are euthanized while still under anesthesia. Not to mention, the majority of schools are moving away from terminal surgeries (unfortunately in my opinion).
 
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MAD MIKE O7

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Patients for terminal surgeries are not woken up, they are euthanized while still under anesthesia. Not to mention, the majority of schools are moving away from terminal surgeries (unfortunately in my opinion).
Ah sorry about that, I remembered incorrectly. Thank you for the correction

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MixedAnimals77

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Hello everyone. I am very new to the whole veterinary scene. I am a freshman in college and have recently started considering becoming a vet. I have always been interested in medicine and I love animals so I feel like it would be a very good job for me. I just have a few questions about it. What is the lifestyle of a vet compared to that of a physician? And is the lifestyle of a general vet any different than the lifestyle of a vet specialist? Also I can not seem to find much info on salaries of vets so what is the average salary for a general and a specialist? I also am not sure if I could handle euthanasia so are there any specialties that do not do euthanasia? Thank you everyone who replies to this! I am very confused about what career to pursue so the answers to these questions will really help a lot.
Would agree with most of what Mad Mike said, was going to bring up what DVMDream said about terminals. Highly recommend shadowing first. An interest in the field and a love for animals isn't strong enough to warrant being in this field. Remember animals have owners and many love Dr. Google just like patients with physicians. Debt to income ratio is high, keep that in mind. Physician compared to vet I would say have alot more freedoms from my experiences. Specialist life compared to GP does kind of depend on specialty i.e. radiologist can work from home while pathologist works in a lab, teaching is also an option. Specialist salary depends what you decide to do with it teach, research, be a specialist, etc. Do some shadowing of both. If you decide to follow this path this form can be a great resource for you, but make sure to do your research, get experience, ask questions, and try to get a true understanding for what you want in life because it's a long haul either route.
 
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DVMDream

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Hello everyone. I am very new to the whole veterinary scene. I am a freshman in college and have recently started considering becoming a vet. I have always been interested in medicine and I love animals so I feel like it would be a very good job for me. I just have a few questions about it. What is the lifestyle of a vet compared to that of a physician? And is the lifestyle of a general vet any different than the lifestyle of a vet specialist? Also I can not seem to find much info on salaries of vets so what is the average salary for a general and a specialist? I also am not sure if I could handle euthanasia so are there any specialties that do not do euthanasia? Thank you everyone who replies to this! I am very confused about what career to pursue so the answers to these questions will really help a lot.

The first thing I like to tell people interested in veterinary medicine is that as a veterinarian you will spend much more time with your charts, phone and clients than you will with the animals. So there needs to be recognition that while you will be practicing medicine on animals you will not spend near as much time with the animals that you would expect.

The lifestyle of a vet depends on the type of vet that you are and there are many, many different types. General practice vets, vets who specialize in surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology, vets that work with horses, food animal vets, industry vets, vets that work for poison control, vets that do hospice care, government vets, military vets, etc. So there is no one and hard answer to "what is the lifestyle of a vet".

A GP vet is going to have a different lifestyle than say an ER vet. They will also see a big variety of cases with appointment about every 15-30 minutes. A specialist vet will see those that are geared toward their specialty and don't tend to have appointments that frequently. An ER vet and some specialists will have overnight shifts and specialists can be on call. There are some "on call" GP vets too if they are in a more rural area in which an ER vet may not exist.

Someone above gave an "average salary" that is incredibly laughable as that includes specialty vets. I would say your starting salary as a GP vet is going to look around $70k give or take a bit depending upon where you live. I know people who make less than this and I personally started off making much more than this. It really, really just depends. A specialist will make more but often times not much more... $120k+ depending on the specialty and they need multiple more years of training.

Euthanasia is a gift to our field. Seriously. I urge you to shadow a few vets so you can experience this part. I recently had a wild rabbit present to me who had shattered both hind limbs with a femur sticking out of his abdomen. He was still alive, struggling to get away and clearly couldn't because two mutilated hind limbs. Options were to humanely help him along or allow him to just lay there until he died. His death could have taken minutes, hours or days. Euthanasia is definitely a kind option we can offer and honestly I wish it were present in human medicine too.

If you want a specialty you are guaranteed to not euthanize... pathology. Otherwise, be ready for it just about anywhere else.
 
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MixedAnimals77

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Do most vets have irregular hours and on call times? What about working on the weekends and holidays?
Depends on what you're doing like DVMDream said. Ex: I want to work rurally that does on call. So I work bacically 24/7-365 minus said days off. If you're in city some practices are open 8-5 and close the doors all emergencies go to an ER. Truly have variations of the spectrum based on what you're doing, where you're at, etc
 
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Would agree with most of what Mad Mike said, was going to bring up what DVMDream said about terminals. Highly recommend shadowing first. An interest in the field and a love for animals isn't strong enough to warrant being in this field. Remember animals have owners and many love Dr. Google just like patients with physicians. Debt to income ratio is high, keep that in mind. Physician compared to vet I would say have alot more freedoms from my experiences. Specialist life compared to GP does kind of depend on specialty i.e. radiologist can work from home while pathologist works in a lab, teaching is also an option. Specialist salary depends what you decide to do with it teach, research, be a specialist, etc. Do some shadowing of both. If you decide to follow this path this form can be a great resource for you, but make sure to do your research, get experience, ask questions, and try to get a true understanding for what you want in life because it's a long haul either route.

Not really. We work in the hospital and our offices just like everyone else. A DVM/PhD is likely the one spending a good deal of time in a lab.

Also, despite the gains in digital radiology, most radiologists continue to work at physical hospitals as well - usually teaching or referral ones.

In terms of "freedoms"....what kind of freedoms are we talking here? I'm not sure what true career "freedoms" we have that physicians don't....other than euthanasia I suppose.

If you want a specialty you are guaranteed to not euthanize... pathology. Otherwise, be ready for it just about anywhere else.

True, but if you're uncomfortable with the idea of death then being around it most of the time most likely isn't for you either. And even that isn't guaranteed - I know several of my colleagues that have had to drop animals prior to posting (rare, but it happens).
 
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PrincessButterCup

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If you want a specialty you are guaranteed to not euthanize... pathology. Otherwise, be ready for it just about anywhere else.
Even in pathology there are times when you may need to euthanize an animal. We've had several cases at work this fall that had to be euthanized by the pathologist on duty, and we always have supplies on hand for that reason.

Edit: Ninja'd by WTF :p
 
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Hello everyone. I am very new to the whole veterinary scene. I am a freshman in college and have recently started considering becoming a vet. I have always been interested in medicine and I love animals so I feel like it would be a very good job for me. I just have a few questions about it. What is the lifestyle of a vet compared to that of a physician? And is the lifestyle of a general vet any different than the lifestyle of a vet specialist? Also I can not seem to find much info on salaries of vets so what is the average salary for a general and a specialist? I also am not sure if I could handle euthanasia so are there any specialties that do not do euthanasia? Thank you everyone who replies to this! I am very confused about what career to pursue so the answers to these questions will really help a lot.

Much poorer and underappreciated.
 
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As far as how much specialists make... I can't really answer that one for you as it varies greatly by specialty. You won't specialize in veterinary school though, you will have to do an internship after getting your dvm and then become certified as a specialist.

And a residency (~3years) after the internship. THEN, if you pass your specialty exam, you become board certified.
 
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DVMDream

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Even in pathology there are times when you may need to euthanize an animal. We've had several cases at work this fall that had to be euthanized by the pathologist on duty, and we always have supplies on hand for that reason.

Edit: Ninja'd by WTF :p

When I was on the ophthalmology rotation at school the clinician introduced us to the rotation by saying "welcome to the rotation where you will not euthanize anything."

Guess which rotation I had my first euthanasia on?
 
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MixedAnimals77

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Not really. We work in the hospital and our offices just like everyone else. A DVM/PhD is likely the one spending a good deal of time in a lab.

Also, despite the gains in digital radiology, most radiologists continue to work at physical hospitals as well - usually teaching or referral ones.

In terms of "freedoms"....what kind of freedoms are we talking here? I'm not sure what true career "freedoms" we have that physicians don't....other than euthanasia I suppose.



True, but if you're uncomfortable with the idea of death then being around it most of the time most likely isn't for you either. And even that isn't guaranteed - I know several of my colleagues that have had to drop animals prior to posting (rare, but it happens).

Just giving some different examples of where some specialists may work. By path I meant like a diagnostic lab not research and of course many specialists work in hospitals and offices including radiology. By freedoms I'm not meaning so much career freedoms I mean like in my experiences an example would be taking a month of vacation is easier to do as a physician working at a hospital or clinic with multiple docs than as a veterinarian at a smaller hospital with only 2-3 vets total. Of course there are larger hospitals and such where this works better, but just an example. Trying to be very generalized with these answers because there is such a diverse spectrum on where people fall such as salary, work place, life styles, specialties, etc.
 

DVMDream

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Man, way to mess it up.

You have no idea, I messed up everything on clinics. Every time I showed up for internal medicine... "you, again? I don't want another odd ass case."

My ophthalmology euthanasia was a 3yo weim with numerous skin lesions, skeletal involvement and blindness from blastomycosis. It was ****ing sad as ****.
 

PrincessButterCup

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You have no idea, I messed up everything on clinics. Every time I showed up for internal medicine... "you, again? I don't want another odd ass case."

My ophthalmology euthanasia was a 3yo weim with numerous skin lesions, skeletal involvement and blindness from blastomycosis. It was ****ing sad as ****.
That is awful. :( I'm betting your clinician doesn't introduce the rotation the same way anymore.
 

JaynaAli

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There's no euthanasia in clinical pathology. (But seriously don't do clin path because of that fact.)

Regarding an average day, hours and salary...
My best friend does rural mixed practice and makes $55,000/year. Works 8-5 four days a week and 8-2:30 once a week. There are no emergency hospitals for over two hours in any direction, so she is on call half of the time, including weekends. She occasionally does farm calls but mostly people bring pets, horses, cattle, and goats to her.
Another friend does equine work, is internship trained, and makes 60,000/year. She pretty frequently works 8am-8pm is on call 24/7 50 weeks a year. She does mostly farm calls.
A different friend works small animal exclusive and started at 85,000/year. She works 8-5 five days a week at a clinic with no on call.
I am a path resident currently making in the low-mid 30,000 range. I work 8am-6:30ish in our lab within the hospital most weeks then come home and study for a couple hours a night. I'm on call every third week. When I was an intern I made 28k and worked about 80ish hours a week (60-100 range). When I'm boarded my salary should be about 3-4x what I make now...but I know some GP vets who make more than that. Other specialties make more (some significantly more), and others are likely similar.

I list all of these to show the variety even just among my core friend group. That doesn't even consider people in some other fields of vet med, which could include zoo vets, pharmaceutical vets, ER vets, other specialists, government vets, food inspection vets, military vets. There is no way to paint vet med with one brush. Shadow a vet (or two or three!) and see what it is like yourself before making major decisions. Actually being a vet is often quite a bit different than people imagine it, like DVMD alluded to. A common theme around here are that if you could be happy doing anything else...do that. Why? Because while those salaries are pretty good compared to a lot of other vocations, those don't take into account the debt. The debt is a SERIOUS issue in vet med. Tuition costs keep rising and salary can/will only rise so much.

My rural mixed friend? Her parents paid for her school so she doesn't have any debt and she's happy and getting by on her salary. 55k in that area goes a pretty long way, even though it's under 'average' salaries. Plus she has a husband to help with expenses and stuff.
Me? I have below average debt and will be fine, especially once I make my full specialist salary.
But my equine friend? She is single and owes over $300,000 in loans. Her 10-year repayment plan payment is almost more than she even takes home after taxes. She will never be able to pay it off and is relying on income based repayment. IBR makes thing more affordable long term, but she is still paying a could hundred a month only to see her loan balance rise rapidly due to interest. She has to save about 2x her required monthly payment amount every month for the next 20 years in order to have enough money on hand for the tax on forgiven debt in 20ish years. She is on call all the time. She is burned out by practice in general, but she feels like she can't leave given her student debt. And that is unfortunate.

Good luck as you start feeling out this profession. Use the search function on here to read about issues and experiences, and seriously, find a vet to shadow.
 
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Coquette22

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This varies immensely by specific job, specialty (or lack thereof) and location.
This. Even within a given practice, different vets work different hours.
For the first two years, I did mixed animal with on call (no ER nearby). I worked 8-5 M-F, every 3rd Saturday and on-call for 1 week in 3. On my off-call weeks, I'd work ~45 hours a week by the time appointments were done and my records were finished. On my on-call weeks, 60-70 hours wasn't unheard of including calls at all hours of the night and holidays. Right now, I'm small animal only in an area with an ER, so I'm off for all stat holidays, work ~30 hours a week Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri and every other Sat. No on-call. A friend of mine does ER overnight and works 3-4 12 hour overnight shifts a week regardless of holidays. So there's a lot of variation. For clinical veterinarians (as opposed to say epidemiologists, public health, government, pathology, etc), hours can be erratic at times. I rarely make plans for right after work because **** happens and I can't always be home at the exact same time.
 
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