Realizing my dreams and losing the guilt

This morning we didn’t have much on the schedule, so we were able to sleep in a little bit before heading out to look at some calves. Pappy had us again today, and we spent about two hours looking at a herd of stocker calves discussing signs of illness and methods of surveillance and treatment. After that we were released to spend the day however we wished.

I went straight to the grocery store to stock up for the month.


On the schedule for the rest of the day:
Food prep for the week
Working with the horses
Run +/- Jillian Michaels workout
Cleaning the house

Over the past few weeks I’ve been keeping a list of ideas for blog topics as they come to me, and today I want to talk about some important things I’ve learned in my final year or two of vet school.

It is SO important that you realize your dreams and make them happen.
I went into vet school with the pipe dream that I would one day be an upper level sport horse or Olympic team veterinarian. My first few years of veterinary school, however, I worked towards a more “practical” goal of becoming a mixed animal veterinarian with a focus on equine medicine. At some point during those first two to three years, I realized that: 1) I wasn’t able to commit 100% to being a spectacular equine veterinarian if I was working on dogs and cats and 2) I wasn’t doing justice to the dogs and cats if I was focusing so thoroughly on equine medicine. Many nights were spent discussing my future with my boyfriend. He insisted that I follow my dreams and told me a million times that he would support me and help me to get where I wanted to go (thank you so much boyfriend!). This led me to the decision to track large animal during my fourth year with an equine focus.

I had to consciously realize that my dream was not to be a mixed animal veterinarian, but to be a veterinarian who is able to travel with and treat some of the most athletic horses in the world. This created a lot of guilt for me, and it’s taken me until now to recognize it and let it go. I felt like I was betraying my training and my vocation as a veterinarian, to essentially turn my back on small animal medicine.

How many times have you heard the saying, “if you love what you do, you won’t ever work a day in your life”? And how many times during vet school have I questioned my dedication to veterinary medicine? I think these questions have stemmed from the fact that I am not happy in a hospital setting, and while I do enjoy working with dogs and cats, my true passion is for equine competition medicine. I want to be outside, at horse shows, spending time with the people who remind me of the people I grew up with. I want to work with horses like my own, and I want to help their riders get the most out of these incredible athletes that they can.

Last fall I was offered a sport horse internship (beginning this June) at one of the largest equine hospitals in the country. I am so excited that soon I will be doing exactly what I love, hanging out at horse shows all day, year round, while still practicing veterinary medicine.

So, what is my take home message for you? Do what you love. Even if you think it’s impossible or doesn’t exist, the perfect job is out there for you. It might not even exist yet, but you have to persevere and try to find a way to make your dream job happen for you.


7 thoughts on “Realizing my dreams and losing the guilt

  1. Thanks for the reminder! I’m having similar vet career doubts/a young life crisis right now so it’s good to hear that others have survived the journey and are still pursuing what they initially came in to vet school to do.

  2. Ahhh the life of a young veterinary student! How I remember those days even though it has been 16 years! Boy, does life ever fly by!

    When I applied for veterinary school, I wanted to be an orthopedic specialist. Once in vet school I decided I want to do cow/calf or feedlot medicine. Then I got into my senior year and decided that equine would be awesome. (I was raised on a farm and grew up with cows, horses, sheep, dogs, cats etc etc) Then it was time to enter the real world and pay for my education!!! Strict equine jobs didnt pay enough for me to pay my loans and truck payment and rent and eat :( cow/calf medicine was even worse! feedlots didnt want to talk to a new grad and it is very specialized.

    Holy cow, what is one to do!! I finally took a job in a rural town doing mixed animal with primary responsibly for all the equine and bovine work. I worked mixed animal practice for 4 years when I decided that I really wanted to just do large animal work.

    I started my own mobile practice and loved it. But being a woman there came the time for children and when one is on the road 16 hrs a day, one is not the best of mothers. How do you raise your kids your way if you are never home. After the birth of my son I decided that I needed to hang up the keys to my truck and go into mixed animal practice again so I could be the mom that I knew I should be! So I spent the next several years building my own practice and here I am 4 1/2 years later!

    What have I learned? Do what you want, if you can afford to do it. Veterinary medicine is an awesome career and you can do ANYTHING you want in it if yo are willing to try! So go and try sport horse medicine, if it doesnt work out, no big deal, go try something else! What your dreams are today, might not be the same dreams you have tomorrow, or they just might not be attainable and so you have to adjust them to something that will work! It took me several years to adjust to do small animal medicine again, I missed the horses but like most things in life, it is a mindset! I LOVE my job and it is not work! Even working on dogs and cats one learns something new every day and there are challenges and wonders and joy!!

    Follow your heart but dont be afraid to put up a different dream if the first one doesnt work!

    • I know what you mean. I’ve had several classmates who have switched from equine to small animal over the past couple of years because they don’t think they’re going to be able to support themselves or their horse habit.

      • Horses, unfortunately, dont pay very well and the owners/trainers are so tough to get them to trust you and believe that you know anything!!!! It took me years of getting out of the truck and having the people look me over and assume that I would not be able to do anything! You have to prepare yourself for them to automatically think you cant do the job, even when you prove you can! I have diagnosed, prescribed, treated, fixed etc etc and still had owners believe their horse shoer or chiropractor or whatever over me! It can be very discouraging at times!! The people who can afford to have horses are a tough group to penetrate and get the to trust you! And unfortunately, the same could be said for the vets that you work for! It is the nature of the business when it comes to horse work!

      • I have a seriously competitive eventing and dressage background so I can relate pretty well to my potential future clients. I’m hoping that the networking I’ve done through competing will also help with acquiring clients. I have seen classmates without an equine background struggle to relate to the equine clients and fail to convince them of their knowledge or abilities, so I can see where that might be a problem.
        I also think sport horse practice pays much better than a regular equine job, so I’m not too worried about that part yet. All of the vets I’ve worked with have been doing pretty well ;)

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