The initial image of a veterinarian for most people is of someone who is fortunate to spend every working day with cute and cuddly animals and their kind and responsible owners. While this can be and often is part of the reality of a veterinary practice, it does not describe the other aspects and possible scenarios in a day in the life of a vet. Throughout his or her career, a veterinarian may encounter abusive animal owners; aggressive or dangerous animals; and difficult recommendations and decisions.
This misconception illustrates the need for prospective veterinarians to consider the career’s diverse demands and to recognize that the profession calls upon much more than a love for animals. Of course, the career calls for a steady hand and manual dexterity to conduct surgery and other procedures. In addition, though, veterinarians need to be articulate communicators to effectively explain and recommend treatments and provide concise instructions to their staff. They need to be compassionate in the face of fatal illness and emotional owners. They need to be able to make decisions around choices of treatment or euthanasia. They must hone management skills to direct their support teams and delegate responsibilities. So, while the obvious focus of a veterinary practice is animal health, the career is clearly one which often summons observation and communication skills; compassion; and business management abilities.